Damian Horan, Siobhan Thomas and Niamh Hills secure judgment for catastrophically brain injured child following a contested High Court trial in London – Master Bronte Brown & Miss Lacey Brown v Mr Cosmin Sestras and others
Our client was a rear seat passenger in a vehicle being driven by his mother along the A10 in Hertfordshire when the incident happened. The car was travelling in the offside lane of a dual carriageway when they became aware of a black Mercedes driving dangerously close behind and tailgating them. The mother felt pressured into changing lanes due to the driving behaviour of the Mercedes but was unable to do so due to an HGV lorry travelling in the nearside lane. The Mercedes then swerved from behind their vehicle and overtook them in the nearside lane, narrowly missing the HGV lorry, before cutting sharply back in front of them. The mother braked to avoid hitting the Mercedes, causing the vehicle to spin out of control and roll down an embankment, before hitting a tree and coming to rest in a field.
The driver of the offending vehicle left the scene, subsequently alleging that they were unaware of the incident.
The most significant injuries were suffered by the young male passenger who sustained a severe traumatic brain injury with severe facial laceration and a degloving injury to the scalp, which required reconstructive surgery to the right eyelid. He also suffered from posttraumatic migraines and developed ADHD symptoms as a result of the traumatic brain injury. He was airlifted from the scene and taken to the specialist paediatric neurological department at the Royal London Hospital. During his time at the hospital and since then, he has received extensive support from the national charity; the Child Brain Injury Trust.
His older sibling, also a rear seat passenger, suffered a broken leg and severe PTSD.
Their mother suffered whiplash injuries to her neck, severe bruising caused by the seat belt as well as significant psychological injuries.
Enquiries were made by the Police to establish the identity of the driver of the black Mercedes. Appeals were made for any witnesses to come forward. An eyewitness who wished to remain anonymous had followed the black Mercedes and obtained the registration number which they gave to the police. The offending vehicle had also been captured on an ANPR camera leaving the A10 shortly after the incident. The police subsequently arrested and interviewed the driver for the offence of causing serious injury through dangerous driving. They submitted a case to the Crown Prosecution Service who unfortunately felt there was insufficient evidence to mount a criminal prosecution.
We obtained a copy of the anonymous call together with further police material, including witness statements. With this evidence we were able to build a clear picture of the events leading up to the incident, and crucially, a clear and detailed description of the culprit vehicle and their front seat passenger.
The claim was initially pursued against Aviva as the motor insurer of the black Mercedes. Whilst the driver admitted to driving along the A10 around the time of the incident, they denied knowledge of any involvement.
Proceedings were issued in the High Court against the driver and Aviva, who alleged that the incident was caused by the mother for losing control of her vehicle. We were therefore forced to include the mother in the litigation to ensure that our clients as innocent passengers were able to recover damages.
The Defendant insurer claimed that compensation should be recovered against the Motor Insurers’ Bureau under the Untraced Drivers’ Agreement. However this was not an attractive route for the client’s family, who were adamant that the driver of the Mercedes was responsible.
This was a highly unusual situation in a civil claim where the identity of the offending motorist was the key issue in the trial. The Defendant driver backed by household insurance company; Aviva, maintained he had been innocently accused and that he was being dragged to court by the brain injured child’s family and accused of bare faced lying.
In addition, Aviva and their legal team blamed the children’s mother for causing the accident and subjected her to years of unnecessary anxiety, financial stress and worry, as well as depriving her and her injured children of any funding for rehabilitation.
The case was listed for a 5 day trial in the High Court. Susan Rodway KC represented the Claimant. We called various witnesses to court, including 2 passengers in our client’s vehicle who were less seriously injured, as well as the investigating police officer.
We also relied on accident reconstruction evidence, which included evidence in relation to the tyre marks caused by the vehicle as it left the carriageway, as well as helpful research in relation to the make and model of the offending vehicle.
The Judge found in favour of the Claimant. She found that we had established on the balance of probability that the driver of the black Mercedes was indeed the Defendant Mr Sestras. She decided that Mr Sestras was not an honest witness in stark contrast to the witnesses called on behalf of the Claimant. She further held that allegations made in relation to the mother’s driving were unfounded and she dismissed them, holding that she was not to blame in any way for the accident.
Now that we have successfully obtained judgment, we can apply for immediate funds to provide private therapy and rehabilitation for our brain injured client, as well as supporting his family who have suffered for too long without any support.
We will also do further work on quantifying the value of the claim. Our client’s injuries are very severe and it is likely his damages claim will be in excess of £10 million.
I am delighted we were able to secure a successful outcome for a very deserving client who will now have a much better future.Damian Horan
This was a tragic case for the whole family. The judgment will now enable much needed funding for rehabilitation and help improve our client’s quality of life moving forward.Siobhan Thomas
This case underlines the value of instructing a first class legal team who will make sure that no stone is left unturned in the pursuit of the right outcome.Susan Rodway KC of 39 Essex Chambers
This is a great result and truly demonstrates the need for all of us to place the family at the heart of the case. It is so pleasing to see this outcome and that much needed funds will soon be available to assist the family. We are delighted that the truly excellent team at Moore Barlow were able to achieve this fantastic result.Lisa Turan; CEO for the Child Brain Injury Trust
The Child Brain Injury Trust was set up in 1991 by health professionals to research the effects of traumatic injury on a child’s developing brain. The charity offers a UK wide service providing non-clinical & non-medical practical advice, information & support across clinical & community settings to support families following an acquired brain injury.
How Moore Barlow can help
Moore Barlow has worked with and supported the Child Brain Injury Trust for many years. The support they provide to children who have suffered catastrophic brain injuries, including our clients, has helped to change so many lives. Moore Barlow has a close working relationship with the Child Brain Injury Trust, and we have witnessed first-hand the positive impact the Trust’s support can have on families affected by childhood brain injury.
Achieving appropriate compensation is often complex, and requires exceptional legal support. As one of the UK’s top personal injury law firms, we are consistently praised by the independent legal directories, Chambers UK and Legal 500. Some of our lawyers are also medically qualified, providing a high level of knowledge and understanding. We regularly secure multi-million pound settlements for our clients, and we will work hard to achieve the best possible compensation for you, to cover your future financial, care, medical and practical needs. And with Moore Barlow, in most cases clients receive 100% compensation.