More pain for cop who saw driver's legs chopped off
A MAJOR insurer is appealing a million-dollar compensation payout awarded to a police officer who suffered severe PTSD as a result of attending a fatal car crash where the victim's legs were chopped off.
AAI Limited on Monday told the Queensland Court of Appeal it should not be liable for David Paul Caffrey's crash-induced mental health trauma because attending fatal crashes was part of his paid employment as Queensland Police member and it was a "foreseeable" outcome of his job.
Mr Caffrey - a 20-year veteran of the force - attended a crash at the Beerburrum-Woodford Rd and Glasshouse-Woodford Rd at Hennessey Hill on Valentine's Day in 2013.
The driver - Bryon Neil Williams - was in a critical condition with substances oozing from his head and his legs severed.
The police officer climbed into the wreck, clearing Mr Williams's airways and supporting his head as he waited for paramedics to arrive.
Mr Williams's parents came to the scene and after learning their son would die, Mr Caffrey took their hands and told them: "Let's go say goodbye".
The driver died shortly after, with Mr Caffrey watching on.
"You see (your children) coming into the world, you never imagine burying them, do you?" Mr Caffrey said during his Supreme Court civil case for compensation from Mr Williams's vehicle insurer AAI.
"But (it) took me about two years to remove my son's face from that.
"His face was superimposed on the lad's (Mr Williams's) face.
"I just kept seeing my son."
Mr Caffrey began drinking substantial amounts of alcohol, he was often angry and also suicidal, leading to a diagnosis of PTSD and his forced retirement from QPS in July 2014.
Justice Peter Flanagan ruled Mr Williams's negligence included a "failure to drive the vehicle at an appropriate speed and to maintain proper control of the vehicle".
Mr Williams had also consumed alcohol, methamphetapmines and marijuana before getting behing the wheel.
Justice Flanagan awarded Mr Caffrey more than $1 million including $70,000 for general damages, $318,262 for past economic loss and $469,490 for future economic loss.
AAI Limited's barrister Peter Dunning on Monday told the appeal judges that attending crash scenes was a foreseeable consequence of policing.
Mr Dunning argued volunteer emergency services personnel could claim liability compensation through the civil law courts but that professionals such as police and paramedics were treated differently.
However, he argued police should not be given a "common law remedy" and that rather, their compensation should be covered as part of work conditions, for example disability cover.
The judgment will be delivered on a date to be determined. - NewsRegional