In the matter of Marshall v Corbett & Anor [2023] QDC 211, the plaintiff, Mr Keith Daniel Marshall, commenced court proceedings in the Queensland District Court against the defendants, Ms Lynn Corbett (first defendant), and her insurance company, Allianz Australia Insurance Limited (second defendant), seeking damages for personal injuries and losses as a result of a physical and psychiatric injuries suffered by him during a motor vehicle accident.

On 3 June 2019, a motorcycle that the plaintiff was riding collided with a motor vehicle that the first defendant was driving.

The primary issues for the District Court were:

(a) was the accident caused by the first defendant’s negligence;

(b) if liability is established, was the plaintiff contributorily negligent; and

(c) if liability is established, what is the appropriate assessment of damages.

The plaintiff submitted that, whilst he has largely recovered from the injuries sustained as a result of the accident, he has suffered losses for which he is entitled to damages in the total amount of $295,361.90.

The second defendant denied liability and disputed quantum.

In this matter, the plaintiff took part in two police interviews. The first police interview was entirely consistent with the plaintiff’s evidence which is that the first defendant wrongfully pulled out in front of the plaintiff. In the second police interview, however, the police put the first defendant’s account to the plaintiff. In the account the plaintiff provided the police in the second interview, the plaintiff not only agreed with the first defendant’s account of how the collision occurred, but he also conceded that he had seen a vehicle travelling in front of him and that by the time he appreciated that it was slowing down because he was looking at the traffic lights up ahead, it was too late to avoid a collision.

On 22 November 2023, the District Court provided at [40] to [42]:

Of course, the onus of proof rests on the plaintiff. For the reasons given the plaintiff has not met the standard of proof required and I am not persuaded that the collision did not occur as described by the first defendant.

Having so concluded, I am not satisfied that the first defendant was in any way negligent in the driving of her motor vehicle relevant to the collision. The most likely cause of the collision was the plaintiff, when travelling in excess of the speed limit at the time and focusing on the upcoming traffic lights, failed to pay due attention to the road immediately in front of him until it was too late to avoid a collision. In other words, the collision was caused solely by the negligence of the plaintiff, such negligence being constituted by:

(a) failing to keep a proper lookout;

(b) failing to travel at a safe speed; and

(c) failing to keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front.

For these reasons the plaintiff’s claim must fail.

Furthermore, the Court provided at [44]

Notwithstanding my findings above, I am nevertheless required to assess the quantum of damages that would otherwise have been ordered.

The District Court assessed damages, despite the fact that they are not payable as the plaintiff’s liability claim failed, as follows:

General Damages – ISV of 30, totalling $52,900.00;

Past Economic Loss & Interest – $73,234.00;

Past Loss of Superannuation – $6,891.00;

Future Economic Loss – $0.00

Future Loss of Superannuation – $0.00

Past & Future Special Damages – $3,000.00

Ultimately, the District Court ordered that the plaintiff’s claim be dismissed. The District Court ordered that the parties are to be heard in relation to any cost order/s against the plaintiff.

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