In this appeal judgment, the court dealt with an insurance claim in which the insured’s motor vehicle was written off in a collision.
The insured claimed damages in his summons based on the market-related value of the vehicle. The issue on appeal was whether the insured had produced evidence that supported his pleaded case on quantum.
The insured confirmed in cross-examination that he claimed as damages the market-related value of his vehicle. Yet, said the court, he had presented no evidence at all on the market value. He conceded under cross-examination that he had no knowledge of its market value.
The only evidence presented by the insured to establish the damages was a written settlement quotation supposedly provided by the bank who had financed the purchase of the vehicle, stating the settlement amount due to the bank under the finance agreement. The appeal court pointed out the insured had not pleaded damages based on the settlement amount. Nor incidentally had he even proved that amount adequately.
The case which the insurer had to meet was not whether on a particular interpretation of the agreement the insurer was obliged to pay the settlement amount. That was not the case pleaded.
The appeal court said that it is trite that it is for a plaintiff to prove its damages. Where the insured had elected to frame his damages as the market-related value of the vehicle he bore the onus of proving the damages so pleaded.
The insurer was entitled to defend the action on the basis that the insured had not discharged his onus. There was no duty on the insurer to plead or present evidence to prove an alternative quantum of damages.
The appeal court found that the insured had failed to prove his pleaded damages. The appeal was upheld and the claim dismissed.
In the fog of a claim and litigation, first principles may be lost sight of. An insured bears the onus of establishing its claim on the balance of probabilities including the quantum. And the dispute must be decided on the pleaded case.