Teen's blog affects judges view on compensation claim
A MACKAY teen's credibility came under fire during a compensation case because her schoolgirl blogs revealed different career aspirations to those claimed in court.
Monica-Leigh Reitano was 17 when she was taken to the Mackay Mater Hospital with back injuries following a rear-ender at a roundabout in 2008.
She was awarded $139,026 damages in a judgment published online on Monday for past and future losses associated with her injuries.
But Justice David North expressed doubts about both her mental and physical injuries following the crash.
He said the information she reported to doctors and psychologists did not match other documents sourced for the hearing which showed she attended music festivals, events at hotels and that she had been a bridesmaid.
"There were other examples of a preparedness to either misstate the facts or consciously confabulate," he said.
Among many examples, Justice North noted Ms Reitano's claims the injury had denied her the opportunity to study journalism and work as a foreign correspondent overseas.
"I was sad that I would not be able to fulfil my ambition as a foreign correspondent," Ms Reitano, 23 at trial, said.
"Prior to the accident, I enjoyed sport, socialising with my friends, going out to see music, watching movies and being active."
Ms Reitano said she had ongoing back and chest pain which worsened with certain activities.
She said she still had intermittent spasms, numbness, tingling and sleep issues.
But Justice North said during the trial, "a different picture emerged in evidence".
He said she even laughed when she was confronted about her "false persona" making false claims on social media sites.
"In cross-examination it was pointed out to her that in her application for university admission, journalism was recorded as a third preference and she admitted … that when she blogged as a school girl her expressed ambition was to be a psychologist," he said.
"(She) admitted that in the years subsequent to the accident she made no applications nor made any attempts to obtain any jobs, placements or work experience as a journalist with any prospective employer."
Justice North said he formed the impression Ms Reitano could not be relied upon to give an accurate account of the effects of the accident.
He said he accepted some social media accounts "might be attributable to the vagaries of youthful and forgivable exuberance or indiscretion".
But Justice North said he reached the firm view her self-reporting of pain and suffering, and the extent it had affected her life, could not be accepted.
The payout includes general and special damages, past and future economic loss, interest and lost superannuation based on the view the justice formed.