April 14, 2023

A 60-yr-old motor mechanic who was thrown over the handlebars of a motorcycle he had just serviced and was test riding on a dirt road, has been awarded more than $1 million for a serious brain injury that resulted from the farm bike accident.

Adrian Antaw conducted the repairs for friend Edward Valks who occupied the farm property near Gunnedah in October 2017.

Unknown to the mechanic, a metal disc from a disused plough had been placed on the road for use as a jump by Valk’s children on their bicycles.

As the front wheel passed over it at about 30 kph, the rear side of the disc stood up and lodged between the mudguard and the rear wheel, locking the wheel and stopping the motorbike in an instant.

Antaw – who had not been wearing a helmet – was treated initially at Tamworth Base Hospital before being air-ambulanced to at John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle.

He was transferred back to Tamworth Base Hospital two weeks later where he remained for rehabilitation until the end of November 2017.

The diagnosis was that of an extremely severe traumatic brain injury with high probability of ongoing cognitive and behavioural impairments. Its severity was a product of the absence of any head protection.

By the time his claim for injury compensation came before Justice Michael Elkaim in the NSW Supreme Court, Valks had filed no defence to it, indicating that he was not insured for the consequences of the accident.

Neuropsychologist Donald Rowe gave evidence that Antaw was suffering a post-traumatic stress disorder and major depression contributed to by the extent of his ongoing pain. In Dr Rowe’s view Antaw would never work again and was at permanent risk of developing post-traumatic seizures and epilepsy.

Neurosurgeon, Professor Michael Fearnside, assessed his injuries at 40% whole person impairment with the judge noted that the mechanic had gone from a self-sufficient working man to a person in daily pain.

Because Valks had not responded to the claim, contributory negligence by reason of the mechanic not wearing a helmet, was not alleged.

Thus the court was not in a position to apportion any responsibility – which would ordinarily have been in the order of 25% to 50% – to Antaw himself.

The judge allowed non-economic loss at 50% of a most extreme case – the figure contended for by Antaw – but would have allowed up to 60% had a higher figure been asked for.

That percentage translated to $352,500 in general damages. While the claim for past gratuitous domestic assistance was rejected because it did not clear the threshold, future domestic and care assistance was allowed at $405,000.

Together with loss of income (past and future) of $217,000, total damages came in at $1.038 m. It remains to be seen if any of that can be collected from the uninsured defendant.

Antaw v Valks [2023] NSWSC 310 Elkaim AJ, 30 March 2023 Read case

Categories: Farm worker injury , Motor Cycle Accident

Was this article helpful?
people found this article useful

Get in touch with us

Online Now

Welcome to Carter Capner Law! I'm here to assist with enquiries and gather details. How can I help today?