June 2018 – Lead Article


The Future Economic Loss Paradigm Is Changing

Most personal injury claims have a significant component costed for future economic loss.  Injured plaintiffs are typically absent from the workplace for weeks or months and more often than not, have insufficient paid sick leave or lack income protection insurance policies to span this unexpected gap.

worker sitting 3 (1)

In addition, the ability or otherwise of the plaintiff to return to the workplace may also be significantly compromised.  Even if a return is possible, lesser duties attracting lesser pay may be obligatory.


It had always been my programme to offer a spectrum of future employment for the Court to consider.  I typically subdivided those roles into sedentary, semi sedentary or laborious in nature.  Over the last 30 years or so, I suspect that I have placed thousands of call centre operators, car park attendants, gate attendants, telemarketers and waitresses.  In reality, all of those jobs have been filled!


As we approach the second quarter of this 21st century, occupational descriptions are changing dramatically.  Those of us who are relatively unskilled yet desirous of significant incomes are attracted to the mining and resources industries.  It is not uncommon for an unskilled or semi-skilled individual to be earning in excess of $150,000 per year as a fly in-fly out miner.  Many of those tasks do require physical competence.  Duties include the operation of large and potentially dangerous machinery, lifting heavy objects, working in confined spaces and manipulating heavy tools.  Only a fortunate few will have more sedentary duties in an office in a mining environment or be restricted to the kitchen or the store warehouse.  With the vagaries of the international export market, it is probable that these jobs will not persist forever.

Astronaut in outer space against the backdrop of the planet earth. Elements of this image furnished by NASA.

Astronaut in outer space against the backdrop of the planet earth. Elements of this image furnished by NASA.

In this new era, those plaintiffs with an education will be dealing almost constantly with computers.  Some could be trained as programmers whilst others will still be required to enter data.  Telecommunication roles and opportunities in the auditory and visual arts will also appear.  Consultancies and advisorships may expand the world of finance.

future telecom worker (1)

Those of us who do not have an education or who lack formal trade skills or qualifications will find future times much tougher.  Sales jobs with incomes based on commissions will become more frequent.  Uber driving could be an option for part-time employment and a small subset of plaintiffs will seek to opt out of society and live “off the grid”.


In essence, our ability to cope with the employment needs of our injured population is not keeping pace with future remunerative demands and opportunities.  This will therefore lead to an increased burden upon our already strained systems of insurance.  Premiums will rise, social service demands will climb and litigation in this personal injury sphere is likely to become more common.


Do you have any solutions?