NSW Work Injury Damages – McCormick v Mt Pleasant Stud Farm Pty Ltd (No. 2) [2021] NSWDC 489

If you have suffered a work-related injury resulting from your employer’s negligence, you may be able to make a work injury damages claim (WID).

In NSW, a claim for WID may be made under a combination of the common law tort of negligence, the Workers Compensation Act 1987 (NSW) and the Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act 1998 (NSW).

In the recent NSW District Court case of McCormick v Mt Pleasant Stud Farm Pty Ltd (No. 2) [2021] NSWDC 489, the plaintiff successfully made a WID claim against his employer and received the sum of $1,395,525.

The plaintiff in this case claimed that the defendant was negligent in the manner in which it required him to perform his duties as manager and trainer at its thoroughbred horse stud farm. He claimed that as a result of the defendant’s negligence, he suffered injuries to his neck, right arm and shoulder that deprived him of any income earning capacity.

The claim arose out of an accident that occurred at the defendant’s premises on 29 December 2014 when the plaintiff was 49 years of age. The plaintiff fell from a horse that he was breaking in as part of his duties as a trainer. The task was known by both the defendant and the plaintiff to be hazardous because of the unpredictable nature of large, young horses. It was ultimately held by Sidis ADCJ that the defendant acted negligently towards the plaintiff by not taking reasonable precautionary action to guard against the risk of injury in this process by providing the plaintiff with an assistant who was capable of controlling the horse during the breaking in process.

In NSW WID claims, workers with work-related injuries are limited to being able to claim damages for past loss of earnings and future loss of earning capacity. As a result of the severity of the injuries suffered by the plaintiff in the case of McCormick v Mt Pleasant Stud Farm Pty Ltd (No. 2), the plaintiff was certified as unfit to work in the field in which he was experienced and for which he was educated. It was held by Sidis ADCJ that, even if the plaintiff did have residual capacity for employment, the plaintiff would present very poorly to a potential employer due to the extent of his ongoing disabilities.