David’s Story: Motorcycle accident with split liability
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Charlotte Morgan, a Senior Associate in the Serious Injury team at Enable Law has recently settled a case for a 43-year-old man who sustained catastrophic life changing injuries in a road traffic collision.
David was riding his motorbike along an A-road with a 60mph speed limit. The road was fairly quiet but David had three cars in front of him when the driver of the car at the front decided to stop his car abruptly and use a dropped kerb to do a three point turn. It transpired that he had realised that he was going the wrong way. David seeing the traffic coming to a standstill decided to overtake the stationary cars in front of him leading to a collision with the car that was in the middle of performing its U-turn.
The drivers’ insurers and solicitors denied liability
The drivers’ insurers and solicitors initially denied liability and said that David was entirely to blame for the accident, as he overtook stationary traffic rather than stopping. However, David could not have guessed that the driver at the front was planning to do a U-turn as the majority of drivers using A-roads that realise they are going the wrong way continue on their route and only manoeuvre when they find a natural turning point such as a junction to do so safely.
As the two sides could not agree on who was at fault for the incident, we went to a collision investigation and reconstruction expert to help us understand what had happened.
After receiving that report, we eventually settled liability on a 50/50 basis meaning that David had to accept 50% responsibility for the accident with the driver of the car accepting the same proportion of blame.
After resolving liability, we were able to obtain substantial interim payments for David so that he had funds to appoint a case manager and to engage with rehabilitation.
Prior to the collision, David was a fit and healthy man who worked full time and lived independently. Sadly, David sustained extensive injuries. He sustained fractures to his pelvis, both legs, elbow and spine. He sustained abdominal injuries but of most significance was a severe brain injury.
We engaged several experts
It was necessary to get expert evidence from experts in the fields of neurology, neuropsychology, neuropsychiatry, orthopaedics, colorectal surgery, life expectancy, ENT, accommodation and care who provided reports on David’s injuries and his future prognosis as well as his ability to work and what sort of professional support he would need to live as independent a life as possible.
The evidence concluded that although a substantial recovery from the orthopaedic injuries had been made, David had reduced walking tolerance, difficulty using stairs and may in the future need a joint replacement. Because of these issues, our experts advised that his two storey house would not be suitable accommodation for him going forwards and recommended that he should move to single storey accommodation The neurological evidence concluded that David’s brain injury was unlikely to improve meaning he would have difficulties for the rest of his life with executive function and memory, will be unlikely to ever return to any form of paid work, and lacks capacity to manage his own financial affairs. He is likely to need professional support in the form of a case manager, support worker and deputy for the rest of his life.
During the course of the claim, the Defendant’s solicitors obtained surveillance evidence of David which had been filmed over the course of many months and which according to them showed his mobility as being good. Having obtained the expert reports mentioned above, we were able to argue that even though David was mobile for short periods of time he got tired very easily and the likelihood was that as time passed his mobility would decrease, and so moving to more suitable accommodation would be in his best interests.
We eventually secured a multi-million pound settlement for David plus provisional damages so that if in the future, David were to develop epilepsy, he could come back for more compensation. Due to David lacking capacity, the settlement required the approval of the Court.
The Enable Law Mental Capacity team was appointed at an early stage of the claim to manage David’s funds on his behalf and invest them responsibly to ensure that they will last for David’s lifetime and provide him with the professional care and support he needs to live the best possible life.