LOSS OF EARNINGS: CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE AND CAUSATION

The need to prove that a claim for loss of earnings arises from the negligence complained of can be overlooked. A failure to consider the key issue of causation can lead to claims being made which, ultimately, cannot be proven.   An example of this can be seen in the decision of Mr Justice Nicol in Manzi -v- King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust [2016] EWHC 1190 (QB)

THE CASE

In an earlier judgment the  judge had dismissed a claim for damages for clinical negligence. In a short supplemental judgment, at the request of the claimant, he considered the award that would have been made if the claimant had been successful. The claimant made a claim for loss of earnings.

THE JUDGMENT

“Lost earnings
  1. The Claimant claimed that she would have returned to work for 3 days per week 1 year after the birth of Harry (i.e. in May 2012) and would have continued so to work until July 2013, following which she realised that she was pregnant with Elsie. She claims that she would have earned the equivalent of what she had earned as a legal secretary at Reynolds Porter Chamberlain until her departure from them in about May 2008. She says that because of what had happened following the birth of Harry, she was unwilling to leave him and so could not go back to work as she had planned. Her full time salary, she says, would have been £23,000 and her claim for 15 months at 3 days per week with an additional allowance for an increase of 5% p.a. comes to £14,046.
  2. The Defendant raises a number of objections to this head of claim. It is sufficient for me to say that I fail to see how this head of loss flows from the Defendant’s alleged negligence. The Adjustment Disorder, even on the Claimant’s case, was over by May 2012. It could not have been that which caused her not to return to employed work. I recognise that there are difficulties for anyone seeking to re-enter the job market after an absence, but the Claimant in any case had not worked since about May 2008 and so would anyway have faced that difficulty. She says that she felt unable to leave Harry to return to work, but if those feelings were not part of her Adjustment Disorder (which, as I have said, on her own case had come to an end by the time she had planned to return to work), there is not a sufficient causal link for the Defendant to be liable for this head of loss (even assuming it had been negligent).
  3. I would not have awarded anything under this head.”

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