Drug driving: Passenger receives significant settlement following serious collision

Our client had been out drinking and socialising with her friends when she was offered a lift home by the Defendant. On the journey home, the Defendant’s driving became erratic and he subsequently lost control of the vehicle, causing it to leave the carriageway and collide with some trees. The Defendant was subsequently breathalysed by the police and found to be high on cannabis. He was prosecuted for causing serious injury by dangerous driving and driving whilst under the influence of drugs.

The claim

The Defendant’s motor insurers refused indemnity to their policy holder but remained liable as S.151 Road Traffic Act Insurer.

Initially the Defendant’s insurers argued illegality as a complete defence to the claim, suggesting that our client accepted the lift when she ought to have known that the driver was intoxicated through drugs. They also alleged that our client was partly to blame for her injuries by failing to wear a seatbelt. We successfully rebutted the seatbelt allegation on the basis that there was good objective evidence from both the ambulance records and the vehicle examination notes to show that the offside rear seatbelt had been in use during the collision.

Injuries to our client

Our client suffered a significant head injury, multiple orthopaedic injuries and psychological symptoms. She suffered loss of consciousness in the collision and had a period of approximately 8 days post-traumatic amnesia where she lost her memory and did not recall family visiting her whilst in hospital over the Christmas period. Understandably she became a very nervous passenger and delayed learning to drive. As a female in her early 20s, she was also very self-conscious about her appearance and the residual scarring left from the surgery she required. 

We obtained evidence from a neurologist, neuropsychologist and neuroradiologist supporting the claim that our client had suffered significant cognitive impairment as well as personality and behavioural changes following the accident. In addition, we obtained evidence from experts in spinal orthopaedic surgery, plastic surgery, psychiatry and pain management to provide supportive evidence of the ongoing symptoms.

Interim payments and future support

We were able to obtain interim payments during the case as well as private psychological treatment funded by the Defendant Insurers under the Rehabilitation Code 2015, which our client found extremely helpful in providing her with some coping strategies when she started driving lessons.

At the time of the accident our client was studying at college and had planned to go on to University to train to become a lawyer. The accident had a negative impact on her studies and due to the head injury, she had problems with loss of memory and concentration. We were able to negotiate a six figure settlement for our client. Her compensation included a sizeable sum for the injuries she suffered and the unnecessary pain and psychological sequelae she endured as a result. She was also compensated for future loss of earnings, gratuitous care that had been provided by family and future treatment for the scarring, together with ongoing psychological treatment and vocational rehabilitation.

The claim was conducted by Moore Barlow, with assistance from Niamh Hills, Solicitor in the Serious Injury Team at Moore Barlow LLP.  In addition, advice was provided by the Barrister, Counsel Mr David White of 12 Kings Bench Walk.

My grandmother had previously used Moore Barlow for a personal injury claim and following my accident I searched for solicitors, deciding to go with Moore Barlow.  This being my first personal injury claim, I was very happy with the service I received and the support throughout my claim made the whole process a lot easier.  In the unfortunate event I need to use these services again I will be sure to go back to Moore Barlow.

The client

I am delighted to have secured a substantial settlement for this client, who was a pleasure to work with throughout the litigation process.  To her credit she has been able to find alternative employment and was fully engaged with the rehabilitation process to maximise her recovery.  I wish her every success in her future.

Moore Barlow lawyer

This was a real team effort and I am very pleased that we were able to secure a fair settlement for the client in this complex case.

Counsel Mr David White, Barrister