Rialas v Mitchell

[1984] 128 SJ 704;

PERSONAL INJURY, DAMAGES, CARE, COSTS, CARE OF THE INJURED PLAINTIFF, REASONABLENESS, FUTURE COST

Facts

The infant plaintiff, aged 6 and a half, was crossing the road when he was struck by a van driven by a van driven by the defendant. The defendant admitted liability for the accident. As a result of the accident, the child sustained a severe brain damage. He could not sit or stand without support, he suffered severe spasms and was unable to speak. The child could answer with ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ by moving his eyes to the left and right. The plaintiff was totally dependant on others and must be looked after day and night. The family of the plaintiff was determined to look after him, despite the fact that it was actually cheaper to have him looked after in a private institution. The plaintiff was awarded £350,965 in damages, out of which £143,552 for future care and attention. The defendant appealed his liability for the future costs of care given that it was cheaper to have the child looked after in a private institution.

Issue

Is the defendant liable for the costs of care of the injured child by his parents, given that there is a cheaper option?

Held

The appeal was dismissed.

(1) The defendant will be liable for the cost of home care of the injured child, if it is reasonable for the plaintiff to be looked after at home, despite the fact that there is a cheaper option.

(2) It is up for the plaintiff to show that it is reasonable that he is looked after at home.