Review Panel: Principal Member John Harris, Dr Ian Cameron and Dr Trudy Rebbeck
- The Review Panel had regard to various studies addressing annular tears and determined that although the accident could have caused an annular tear, it did not cause the Claimant’s annular tear.
- The Review Panel considered that the Claimant’s symptoms were more likely attributable to damage to other musculoskeletal structures and psychological distress, than the annular tears.
The matter of Muradi v QBE Insurance (Australia) Ltd  NSWPICMP 59 involved a 23-year-old Claimant who was thrown off his motorbike after being rear-ended by the Insured vehicle.
At first instance Medical Assessor Berry determined that the Claimant sustained a minor injury for the purposes of the Motor Accident Injuries Act 2017. The Claimant successfully applied for a Review contending that he sustained a non-minor injury because an MRI scan taken following the accident had revealed annular tears at C5/6 and C6/7.
The Review Panel Decision
The Panel served papers addressing findings of annular tears on MRIs. Despite being given the opportunity to provide submissions addressing these articles, neither side did.
The Panel’s examination of the Claimant revealed symmetrically reduced ranges of motion in the cervical and lumbar spine. Neurological examination of the upper and lower limbs did not reveal any abnormalities.
The Panel was not satisfied that either of the annular tears identified on the MRI scan were caused by the subject accident.
In support of their findings, the Panel noted that:
- The symptoms reported by the Claimant (including neck pain and stiffness) were consistent with a whiplash disorder of Grade I or II severity.
- There is essentially no relationship between pathology in the intervertebral disc (such as annular tears or disc bulges) and symptoms in people with whiplash.
- Various papers had shown that annular tears were just as common in asymptomatic 20-year-olds as symptomatic 20-year-olds, and the presence of annular tears was not associated with neck pain.
Whilst the Panel accepted that it was conceivable that an accident of this nature could cause an annular tear, they were not satisfied that the accident did cause the annular tears - having regard to the various studies.
They found that it was more likely that other factors (such as damage to other musculoskeletal structures and psychological distress) were contributing to the Claimant’s ongoing pain.
The Review Panel therefore considered it unnecessary to address the issue of whether an annular tear caused by the accident constitutes a non-minor injury.
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