Lead Article

Social and Recreational Activities


Whilst most attention in personal injury and medical negligence claims focusses upon impairment assessments, causation, economic loss and future therapeutic needs, it is also reasonable to assess losses of social and recreational enjoyment that may follow a traumatic incident.


Some plaintiffs are extremely active and were so up until the time of their subject injury.  Many are outstanding golfers, engage in triathlons or regularly have overseas jaunts for snow skiing and touring.  A serious injury with ongoing impairments and disabilities may permanently diminish or even remove the ability for the injured plaintiff to return to some semblance of lifestyle activity.

Your orthopaedic expert is well positioned to assist with this analysis.  Whilst some injuries are truly irretrievable, the adverse effects of others can be diminished quite significantly by the provision of splints, braces, orthoses and prostheses.  A stiff, painful ankle could be splinted, allowing a return to some limited bush walking and hiking.  Advice can also be offered on modified techniques to accomplish tasks which were previously taken for granted.  The provision of a motorised golf buggy for example may allow a previously keen golfer to make at least a limited return to that favoured recreational pursuit.

At a personal level, I believe that addressing this important issue of social and recreational capacity is a vital part of any medicolegal report.

It is vital that the expert listens to the plaintiff.  Establishing an easy rapport facilitates the gleaning of these personal details.  Some patients are more adaptable than others.  Relatively trivial injuries to some may invoke major lifestyle changes for others.

Separating genuine complaints from self-serving exaggeration is equally vital.  You will benefit from engaging an expert who is experienced, sympathetic and realistic.