Suncorp has successfully denied a seriously injured BHP mine manager – who “found a way to cope” with demanding positions – injury compensation reflective of his stellar earnings.
41 yr-old Michael Nucifora and his wife were injured in a highway motor crash in July 2011. The “stoic and determined” Nucifora suffered neck and back injuries including a compression fracture to his thoracic spine and an injury to his coccyx.
After 3 weeks off work, he resumed his usual at least 12.5 work hours/day, enduring agonising pain and modifying how he performed tasks to get his job done. With “pain his constant companion”, Michael claimed no loss of salary whatsoever up to the time of the court hearing.
Even so, with a weekly take-home pay with bonuses of $8.5k, he ought – so contended his lawyers – be awarded at least a modest $700k (one year’s normal benefits) for the risk of early retirement; having to work less hours, or not qualifying for production bonuses.
But the at-fault vehicle insurer Suncorp argued the future loss award should be zero. Calculating the present value of just one year’s loss of net wages at $145k, the Supreme Court at Rockhampton allowed a ‘global’ future income loss of $280k as part of a total damages award, including expenses, of just $330k.