Self-employed pensioner may still claim loss of earnings

The Court awarded damages for loss of earnings to a taxi driver who at the time of the accident was 61 years of age.

This was decided by Mr Justice Silvio Meli on 4 December 2013 in the case Alfred Axisa vs Roger Attard and Citadel Insurance plc.

Axisa had instituted a lawsuit against Roger Attard after he was injured in a traffic accident on 5 May 2003 at George Borg Olivier Street, St Julian's. During the lawsuit Axisa died and Emanuela Axisa took over the case. Axisa was claiming damages emerging from his taxi and injuries he sustained from the accident. The Insurance Company Citadel Insurance plc was called into the action and pleaded that this insured client Roger Attard was not totally responsible for the accident. Attard did not file a statement of defence and therefore, the Court concluded that the defendant was totally responsible for the accident. This was due to his excessive speed.

From the evidence produced, it resulted that Attard has skidded into the opposite lane and crashed into Axisa's taxi. With the impact the car spun and the plaintiff lost consciousness. The Court examined two medical reports of Alfred Axisa. From the first report it resulted that Mr Axisa was taken to hospital four hours after the accident and from the X-rays the plaintiff broke his left knee and suffered an impact in his back. He spent two months with a plastered leg, however, Axisa continued to complain about his knee. In a second medical report, it resulted that Axisa did not limp, however, felt uncomfortable when he knelt. The doctors calculated that he had 2% permanent disability. The Court held that the declaration of disability was illogical since all the medical experts held that the plaintiff had recovered from the consequences of the collision, but at the same time allocated a permanent disability percentage. With regard to the calculation of damages, Mr Justice Meli analysed the documentation presented in the case. From these documents the plaintiff suffered €6,732.24 in damages to his vehicle. 

As regards to loss of earnings, the plaintiff was 61 years of age when the accident took place and died five years later. The Court took into consideration his income, increases to his income, inflation and that the Court reduced 20% since he is receiving a lump sum and the fact he was self-employed and had no intention to retire. Mr Justice Mali concluded that the income lost was €30,500.

Therefore the Court ordered Attard to pay a total of €37,232.24 to Axisa's heir. 

Malcolm Mifsud is a partner with Mifsud & Mifsud Advocates

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