CRIMINAL INJURIES VICTIM RECEIVES FULL AWARD OF $75 000.00
In the matter of Taylor v Paindelli  WADC 160, the Court on appeal from an award made by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Assessor, dismissed the appeal of Mr Taylor and confirmed that Mr Paindelli was entitled to compensation of $75 000.00 as awarded by the Assessor.
The basic findings of fact were that on Thursday, 15 July 2010, Mr Paindelli was outside a nightclub in Fremantle, where he had been drinking and was heavily intoxicated. A verbal altercation broke out between Mr Taylor and a female friend of Mr Paindelli. Mr Paindelli criticized Mr Taylor for the manner in which he had spoken to the female friend, whereafter Mr Taylor punched Mr Paindelli in the face with a clenched fist. At that stage, Mr Taylor walked away, went to a nearby rubbish bin, removed a glass bottle, smashed it and walked towards Mr Paindelli striking him in the face. Mr Paindelli fell to the ground and whilst he lay there, Mr Taylor struck him again several times to the face and walked away.
As a result of the aforementioned attack, Mr Paindelli suffered multiple facial lacerations with a temporary complete loss of vision in his left eye due to a dilated non-reactive pupil and a prolapsed iris. Mr Taylor was left with residual ophthalmic, cosmetic and psychological injuries.
In the Appeal, Mr Paindelli provided the Court with a further affidavit which in terms of the relevant legal principles the Court had a general discretion to receive and admit. The affidavit was duly presented and admitted by the Court. In his affidavit Mr Paindelli stated that after having a discussion with his General Practitioner there was a possibility that he may require laser surgery to improve his vision and further facial surgery to reduce the size of the scar tissue on the inside of his cheek. In this regard the Court was of the opinion that there was no expert evidence to support those statements, either as to the need for the surgeries or when they would occur. No significant weight was placed by the Court in that regard. With regards to his psychological injuries, a clinical psychologist report was presented wherein it was indicated that Mr Paindelli suffered several psychological symptoms prior to the assault consistent with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The Court concluded that it accepted the evidence of the Clinical Psychologist and found that Mr Paindelli had suffered PTSD previously but also as a result of the offence, that there were symptoms which would be ongoing and permanent, in the sense that they will continue for the foreseeable future. However the Court was of the opinion that the Psychological injury was only mild because Mr Paindelli has been able to cope for some years without medication that are commonly prescribed for anxiety and depressive type symptoms and because he was able to cope without clinical treatment.
In calculating the general damages, the Court came to the conclusion that an appropriate award for lost earning capacity (past and future), pain and suffering and loss of amenities of life, should be assessed in the order of $125 000.00. This was because in the Court’s view, Mr Paindelli’s economic, ophthalmic and psychological injuries should not attract significant awards but were it not for the scarring the Court would only have allowed a modest award for pain and suffering and loss of amenities of life. However, the Court considered the scarring to be cosmetically serious, which will permanently inform his psychological health and impair his happiness in most domains. The Court on Appeal, confirmed the award of the Assessor in the sum of $75 000.00, being the maximum allowed pursuant to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act.
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