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Evans v Pontypridd Roofing Ltd [2001] EWCA Civ 1657

QUANTIFICATION OF DAMAGES

Facts

Due to the negligence of the defendant roofing company, the claimant fell from a roof, causing severe injuries to his right arm. As a result, it was necessary for his wife to give him extensive physical care and assist him with almost every physical task. The claimant developed severe clinical depression and became suicidal (a condition which he had a known predisposition to). He also began to rely heavily on his wife for emotional support.

At first instance the judge granted an award of damages for the gratuitous care provided by the claimant’s wife, based on the claimant’s requirement for constant care. However, the defendant appealed, arguing that this was excessive as many of the care activities provided were not strictly required as a direct result of the claimant’s physical injuries.

Issue

The issue before the Court of Appeal was whether the assessment of damages should include psychological elements of care such as companionship or emotional support, or should be limited strictly to the physical care which was required to assist with activities the claimant could not undertake as a result of the injury to his arm.

Held

The Court unanimously upheld the award made by the trial judge. It was held that although the requirement for a causal connection between the care requirement and the negligence was strict, there is no limitation to physical or medically prescribed care. Each case must be determined on its unique facts. In the words of May LJ:

“The services should not exceed those which are properly determined to be care services consequent upon the claimant’s injuries, but they [are] not… limited in every case to a stop-watch calculation of actual nursing or physical assistance” (para. 30).


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