The claimant was entitled to receive damages from all three defendants for loss of earnings and pension following her early retirement due to the cumulative physical and psychological effects of three separate motor vehicle accidents.Appeals by two defendants concerning their liability to pay personal injury damages for loss of earnings and pension, and the calculation of those damages. In 1993 the claimant ('P') suffered injuries in three separate road traffic accidents. The defendants in P's consequent legal actions were the culpable drivers in each of those accidents. In 1996 P retired as a deputy head teacher, citing as her reason the effects of the accidents on her. In all three accidents she suffered whiplash and, in the third accident she sustained a lower back injury. The trial judge awarded P damages for, inter alia, loss of earnings and pension entitlements. They calculated those damages on the basis that P would have continued working until the age of 60 and apportioned them between all three defendants, given the cumulative impact of the accidents. On appeal, the first and second defendants argued that P would not have had to retire but for the occurrence of the third accident and they should, therefore, not have to contribute to the award for financial losses arising from her early retirement. The first defendant also challenged the trial judge's finding on the probable age of P's retirement from teaching but for the accidents.HELD: (1) The two medical experts giving evidence at the trial agreed that the effects of the accidents were cumulative and were responsible for the chronic pain state from which P subsequently suffered. It followed that P was entitled to compensation for any consequences of the cumulative physical and psychological impact of the three accidents. (2) The medical experts also agreed that by 1995/1996 P's medical condition led to her early retirement. Although P herself said she may not have retired but for the occurrence of the third accident, her early retirement was, on the medical evidence, caused by the cumulative effects of all three accidents. (3) Accordingly, the trial judge did not err in finding all three defendants liable to pay damages for financial losses arising from P's early retirement. (4) The finding as to the probable age of P's retirement was a finding of fact that was open to the trial judge.Appeals dismissed.For the Quantum Report in this matter see, Marina Carol Pearce v Lindfield & Ors (2003) LTLPI 15/5/2003.

[2003] EWCA Civ 647

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