POTTS v FROST – FULL COURT  - EXPENSES INCURRED BY THE PARENTS OF A PLAINTIFF TO MEET INJURY RELATED NEEDS

The parents of Joshua Potts expended the sum of approximately $38,000.00 on injury related needs. The parents were not parties to the litigation and Joshua Potts was not able to establish a legal liability to reimburse them.  However, Joshua Potts sought to recover these expenses pursuant to Griffiths v Kerkemeyer (1976-1977) 139 CLR 161, where the High Court followed Donnelly v Joyce [1974] 1 QB 454 (CA) which is authority for the proposition that expenses incurred gratuitously by relatives and friends of a plaintiff are compensable and the injury related need is the basis upon which those expenses are recoverable and the actual cost is the measure of damages which the tortfeasor is required to pay. In so far as the injury related need is met by others, this is an irrelevant consideration as between plaintiff and tortfeasor.  All very just and appropriate, save that it is suggested that the decision in Griffiths v Kerkemeyer  is directly in conflict with an earlier decision of the High Court in Blundell v Musgrave (1956) 96 CLR 73, which is authority for the proposition that expenses are only compensable where a plaintiff has a legal liability to pay those expenses.

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