Case Summary: Hariharan v Vojtisek & Anor [2020] QDC 276

Court: District Court of Queensland
Citation: Hariharan v Vojtisek & Anor [2020] QDC 276
Parties: Balasubramanyam Hariharan (Plaintiff) v Evelyn Jane Vojtisek (First Defendant) and Allianz Australia Insurance Limited (Second Defendant)
Judge: Kent QC DCJ
Date of Judgment: 30 October 2020
Hearing Date: 28-29 September 2020
Outcome: Judgment for the plaintiff in the amount of $269,840.64


The case involves a motor vehicle accident on 15 February 2017, where the plaintiff, Balasubramanyam Hariharan, was “T-boned” by the first defendant, Evelyn Jane Vojtisek, who ran a red light. The plaintiff sustained a cervical spine injury, leading to ongoing pain and a 5% permanent impairment. Liability was admitted by the defendants, with the second defendant being the insurer.

Key Issues:

Injury and Impact:

    • The plaintiff, an Indian-born Australian citizen, worked as a folder machine operator in Melbourne.
    • The collision resulted in a generalised musculoligamentous injury and aggravation of pre-existing cervical spine degeneration.
    • The plaintiff experienced pain, stiffness, tingling, and a restricted range of movement.

    Economic Loss:

      • Prior to the accident, the plaintiff intended to work both in Australia and India, eventually returning to Australia permanently.
      • Due to the injury, he was unable to continue his work in Australia and relocated to India.
      • The plaintiff claimed significant economic loss due to his inability to work as a folder machine operator.

      Medical Evidence:

        • Dr. Cook, the plaintiff’s orthopaedic surgeon, confirmed the injury and its impact on the plaintiff’s ability to work.
        • The defendant’s expert, Dr. Dickinson, argued that the plaintiff’s symptoms were due to pre-existing conditions and not the accident.


        The court favored Dr. Cook’s evidence over Dr. Dickinson’s, acknowledging the significant impact of the accident on the plaintiff’s life and work capabilities.

        General Damages:

          • Assessed under Item 88 of the Civil Liability Regulation 2014 (Qld), resulting in $10,620 for a moderate cervical spine injury.

          Past Economic Loss:

            • Calculated from the date of the accident to the present, considering the plaintiff’s inability to work in Australia and his residual earning capacity in India.
            • Total past economic loss was assessed at $82,450, with interest amounting to $593.64 and past superannuation loss at $7,263.

            Future Economic Loss:

              • The court considered the plaintiff’s ongoing inability to perform heavy manual work and his intention to return to Australia.
              • Future economic loss was assessed at $152,373, with future superannuation loss at $13,541.

              Special Damages:

                • Past special damages were agreed at $1,000 and future special damages at $2,000.


                The court awarded the plaintiff a total of $269,840.64, covering general damages, past and future economic loss, superannuation, and special damages. This case highlights the complexities involved in assessing economic loss and the importance of credible medical evidence in personal injury claims.


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