We were recently successful in securing a very significant award of damages for the guardian of a gentleman who sustained injuries of the utmost severity in a road traffic accident, leaving him with a severe traumatic brain injury, loss of speech, a very limited ability to communicate and an inability to walk.
The initial offer from the insurers of the driver was for £1 million; the case eventually settled pre-proof for £6.5 million.
This was a complex action on a number of fronts. The defenders admitted primary liability but argued contributory negligence based on an allegation that the injured party had not been wearing a seatbelt at the time. That allegation was denied, and there were no witnesses able to speak directly to the issue. Experts had to be engaged to examine the whole facts and circumstances and determine on the basis of the mechanics of the accident and the injuries sustained, whether it was more likely than not that a seat belt had been worn; and also to give expert evidence as to whether the wearing of a seatbelt would have made any difference to the injuries sustained in the circumstances of the accident in question. Clearly, these issues had the potential of significantly affect the level of damages awarded. The expert identified and relied upon for the pursuer in this case is acknowledged as one of the world's leading experts on transport safety, and had given advice to the Inquiry into the death of Princess Diana.
The injured gentleman had been an NHS in-patient since the accident for some 5 years prior to the settlement. It was generally acknowledged that therapies which could have assisted in improving his quality of life were simply not available on the NHS and the primary aim was to secure damages sufficient to enable him to be discharged to his own home with a dedicated and personalised package of care in place, close to his extended family. The insurers opposed this, arguing that his medical needs made it more appropriate that he remain long term in NHS care.
An interim award of damages was made pending a final determination of the case, and this enabled us to put in place an interim care package sufficient to satisfy the treating consultant that it was appropriate to discharge him from NHS care. Care needs were 24/7, and the care package required input and advice from numerous experts - nursing, occupational therapy, physio and language therapy, dieticians and case managers.
Apart from some exceptional medical negligence cases, few personal injury cases in the United Kingdom have ever settled at a level in excess of £5million.