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Queensland solicitor’s ‘extraordinary’ error criticised by judge

A Queensland judge criticised a solicitor for making an “extraordinary and regrettable” error in his client’s claim for compensation.

user iconNaomi Neilson 02 August 2023 Big Law
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In determining whether a woman was entitled to compensation from Allianz Australia for a motor vehicle accident, District Court Judge Ian Dearden accepted her evidence that a vital piece of missing information on the insurance claim was her solicitor’s fault.

Lawyers for Allianz Australia had argued she was not an honest and reliable witness because of the failure to disclose a 2009 car accident.

“The plaintiff’s submissions frankly acknowledge that if there is to be criticism of anyone, it would be the solicitor who prepared the notice of accident claim form,” Judge Dearden said in his judgment.


The woman submitted she engaged the same solicitors’ firm in respect of her three claims of damages, the notice of accident claim was completed by the firm, and she signed where her lawyer told her to.

“With respect, it seems to be an extraordinary and regrettable oversight on the part of that solicitor, given the solicitor’s access, presumably, to the law firm’s records,” Judge Dearden said.

While Judge Dearden said the failure to disclose was “unfortunate”, he accepted the woman acknowledged this and did disclose part of it in the medical records she submitted to support the claim.

Judge Dearden added this information was also easily accessible to Allianz Australia’s lawyers through WorkCover records.

“Accordingly, I reject the submissions by the defendant that the plaintiff was an inherently unreliable witness,” Judge Dearden said.

“On the contrary, I considered the plaintiff to be an honest and frank witness, making concessions where appropriate, and I have no hesitation in acting upon her evidence in these proceedings.”

Allianz Australia was ordered to pay the woman the sum of $285,122.63 in damages for her motor vehicle collision.

The matter is Towell v Mooney & Allianz Australia Insurance.

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