A professional tennis coach and keen cyclist, who was run over by a hit and run driver and suffered terrible brain injuries, is to receive four million pounds in compensation following a judgement in favour of his bicycle accident claim at London´s High Court.
Patrice Gougam (55) from Enfield, Middlesex, had been cycling along the A1000 Barnet to Hatfield road in November 2009 when the accident happened. He was run over by a Land Rover driver by Michael Elliot (66) of Potters Bar, Hertfordshire who drove away from the scene of the accident, unaware of the injury he had caused – only to give himself up on his return journey later in the day.
Patrice suffered catastrophic brain damage which left him in a coma for three weeks. He spent six months at the National Hospital for Neurosurgery and Neurology in Bloomsbury, London, before being transferred to a hospital closer to his home where he remained for a further fifteen months. He now requires round-the-clock care and he is wheelchair bound and unable to feed himself.
Assessing Patrice´s bicycle accident claim, the High Court heard that Michael Elliot had been found guilty of reckless driving, had served eight months in prison and been banned from driving for three years as a result of the accident. Finding in favour of the claimant, the Court awarded four million pounds to Patrice, to be administered by his wife Virginia.
A girl, who suffered traumatic brain injuries when hit by a car at the age of seven, has had her child injury claim settlement approved by Mr Justice Popplewell at London´s High Court.
Leigh Ann Blinkthorn of Caister, Norfolk, is now twenty-three years old and requires the permanent assistance of two carers due to an aggressive personality disorder which was triggered as a result of her injuries.
Mr Justice Popplewell heard that although the accident occurred in January 1996, settlement of Leigh Ann´s child injury claim has taken fifteen years due to the changes in her care requirements and the fact that she has been placed in different residential care facilities when her parents have been unable to provide sufficient help for her.
The child injury claim settlement, which consists of a lump sum payment of 2,875,000 pounds and annual tax-free, index-linked payments of 191,758 pounds, will enable Leigh Ann to now live permanently with her parents – Colin and Joy. The total value of the settlement package is estimated to be around 9 million pounds.
Approving the child injury claim settlement against the driver of the vehicle responsible for Leigh Ann´s injuries – Stephen Hall of Norwich, Norfolk – Mr Justice Popplewell paid tribute to the “tireless care and dedication” provided by Leigh Ann´s parents and said “I hope that this settlement will bring a little enhancement to all your lives”.
A man, who suffered catastrophic brain injuries when his motorbike was in collision with a car, has had an undisclosed settlement of his motorbike accident claim approved in London´s Royal Court of Justice.
David Buchan (28) of Watford, Hertfordshire, sustained the injuries in February 2005 after his bike was hit by a car driven by Mark Whiting of Hatfield, Hertfordshire, and following a long period in intensive care had titanium plates inserted into his head.
Since his accident, David suffers from depression, has impaired senses of smell and taste and has suffered a partial loss of sight. Although he has learned to walk again, he can only manage short distances with the aid of a stick and it is unlikely that he will ever be able to work again.
Mr Justice Langstaff at the Royal Courts of Justice heard that settlement of David´s motorbike accident claim had taken so long because of a dispute over liability and, although the undisclosed compensation settlement was believed to be substantial, represented just one-third liability on behalf of the defendant.
Approving the settlement, the judge paid tribute to David´s mother – Ann – and the remarkable levels of care and support she had provided for her son during his recovery.
The family of Zoila Tellez, who was killed in a tragic railway accident, have had a negotiated settlement in excess of 36 million dollars for wrongful death compensation approved by an Illinois County District Court judge.
Zoila (44) of Chicago, Illinois, was travelling in a car with her husband Jose and pregnant daughter Adriana in June 2009, when the family pulled up to red lights at a level crossing just outside of the city. The train that was due to pass was a Canadian National Railways goods vehicle, which consisted of 114 freight wagons – 76 of which were tankers filled with liquid ethanol.
Due to heavy rain, a nearby retention pond had overflowed, washing away some of the ballast beneath the track and, as the Illinois Court heard, leaving the rails “hanging in the air”. The approaching train, ignorant of the hazard ahead, derailed shortly before the level crossing at which the Tellez family had pulled up, causing several of the ethanol tankers to explode and setting the Tellez car alight.
Jose and Adriana Tellez managed to escape the accident with severe burns – Adriana miscarrying her baby soon after – while Zoila Tellez was unable to get out of the vehicle and burned to death.
In two separate lawsuits following the tragedy, it was revealed that the County Sheriff´s Office had previously alerted the Canadian National Railways communication centre in Montreal about the potential hazard, but the employee who received the warning had not been trained about how to respond to the alert, and the message was never transmitted to the train driver.
Lawyers for the family also discovered that a weather alert had been sent to the company´s Edmonton office two hours before the tragedy, but the employee there had not read the full message as so many alerts were being delivered that evening. Canadian National Railways admitted that had the messages been dealt with in a prompt and efficient manner, an engineer would have inspected the track before allowing the train to proceed and would have therefore prevented the accident.
Acknowledging that the death of Zoila Tellez and the injuries to her husband and daughter were due to neglect, insurers negotiated a settlement which sees Jose Tellez receive 22.5 million dollars, while Adriana had a separate settlement of 13.75 million dollars approved by the judge.
A twenty year old student, who was knocked from his bicycle by a negligent motorist in February this year, has died from his injuries just weeks after his family secured a multi-million dollar settlement to provide life-long care.
Nathan Krasnopoler from Baltimore, Maryland, was cycling in the University Parkway of Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, which he attended as a sophomore student, when he was in collision with a car driven by 83 year old Jeannette Marie Walke of Baltimore.
In May, Mrs Walke pleaded guilty to negligent driving and was fined $220.00 while Nathan lay in a coma at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. Although the family were reported as being happy with the criminal case outcome – they did not want to see Mrs Walke jailed for her crime – they proceeded to claim $10 million in damages from her in a civil action, as their insurance policy provided inadequate coverage for Nathan´s care.
Although the case never went to court, and the amount of the final settlement has never been disclosed, it is understood that an amount approaching that initially claimed has been paid from both Mrs Walke´s personal assets and her car insurance company (many Maryland insurance policies have an upper liability limit of $30,000). Mrs Walke has also had to relinquish her driver´s licence as part of the settlement.v
Owners of a bar at a Texas golf club have been ordered to pay almost one million dollars to the family of a driver who was killed in a road traffic accident, after they served alcohol to the customer responsible for causing the vehicle collision.
Lance Shelter (42) was tragically killed in a road traffic accident when the car he was driving was in collision with a vehicle driven by a golfer who had been served alcohol when already displaying signs of intoxication.
District Court Judge Dana Womack heard at Fort Worth District Court, Texas, that the Southern Oaks Golf Club in Burleson, Texas had sold 12 cans of beer to Mark Charles Pierce prior to him starting his round of golf.
Southern Oaks employees sold Pierce a further six cans of beer after he had played nine holes, and then a mixed alcoholic drink at the conclusion of his round, despite Pierce showed signs of intoxication. Pierce then drove from the golf club, and was responsible for the accident that killed Lance Shetler, a father of three and inventor of medical devices that benefited children.
Claiming that Lance would still be alive had the Southern Oaks Golf Club adhered to their own policy against over-serving patrons, his family sued the bar owners and won their case – being awarded almost one million dollars in wrongful death compensation by Judge Womack.
A Canadian man, who suffered severe brain damage when the vehicle in which he was a passenger was involved in a collision with another car, has been awarded 4.2 million dollars in one of Ontario´s biggest road traffic accident lawsuits.
Larry Greenlaw (52) of Angus, Ontario, was a passenger in his friend´s Toyota Echo when, in February 2007, it was involved in a road traffic accident with the Subaru Impreza driven by Luc Saulnier. Larry´s friend, Benjamin Dunnett, Saulnier and two passengers in Saulnier´s car were transported to Royal Victoria Hospital by ambulance with non-life-threatening injuries, but Larry had to be airlifted to the Royal Victoria Hospital and then transferred to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, where he spent one month in and out of consciousness with bleeding in the brain.
As a result of the accident Larry sustained a catastrophic brain injury, resulting in severe cognitive impairments, and requires 24-hour care along with on-going treatment.
At the court hearing in Barrie, the jury heard that Larry does not understand that he is no longer the same as he once was and wonders why he needs a “babysitter”. His condition was likened to Alzheimers and the jury heard that, because of this, Larry cannot be left along for longer than five minutes.
The action had been filed against both Dunnett and Saulnier – with both denying liability for Larry´s injuries – however, after a five day trial, the jury found Dunnet (the driver of the car in which Larry was travelling) 80% responsible for his injuries and Saulnier 20% liable.
Larry and his wife were awarded 4.2 million (Canadian) dollars to cover the costs of his ongoing care which was understood to be the largest amount ever awarded in a juried personal injury trial in Barrie.
A 22 year old handyman, whose life was shattered when the car in which he was a back seat passenger was struck from behind by a drunk driver, has been awarded 15.4 million dollars in the Supreme Court of Florida.
Dwight Grant of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was seated in a friend´s stationery car, when it was struck from behind at speed by a car driven by Matthew Lyons of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Dwight sustained multiple skull fractures, frontal lobe brain damage and facial injuries in the collision and spent two weeks in intensive care having reconstructive surgery.
Following his discharge from hospital, Dwight developed a seizure disorder that could not be controlled by medication and Judge Mily Rodriguez-Powell at the Supreme Court of Florida heard that the damage that had been done to Dwight´s brain affected his decision making ability and short-term memory. It was testified that Dwight will never be able to work again.
The claim for personal injury compensation was brought against Matthew Lyons when it was discovered that Lyons was nearly four times over the legal alcohol limit when the accident happened, and it took a six person jury panel very little time to find in favour of the plaintiff.
Their award of 15.4 million dollars compensates Dwight for past and future pain and suffering (6 million dollars), past and future medical care (6.7 million dollars) and past and future loss of earnings (2.7 million dollars).
A New York woman, who sustained severe neck injuries in a bus crash, has been awarded 300,000 dollars personal injury compensation at the St. George Supreme Court, Staten Island.
Lydia Batson (61) of Graniteville, New York, was a passenger aboard the Manhattan bound X17 bus, when it was in collision with a another vehicle at the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge toll plaza on July 27. 2006.
Lydia suffered neck injuries which aggravated a pre-existing condition stemming from a similar incident three years previously, and had to undergo surgery to repair the aggravated condition and three neck discs injured in the most recent accident.
After seeking legal advice, Lydia filed for personal injury compensation against the City Transit Authority and, following medical testimony which confirmed Lydia´s claim, a jury at the St. George Supreme Court found in her favour and made the compensation award of 300,000 dollars.
A minister´s wife and parent counsellor from Iowa, who suffered extensive brain damage in a road traffic accident in 2004, has been awarded 11 million dollars by an Illinois judge.
Carla Link (56) of Burlington, Iowa, was returning home from a family Labor Day excursion in June 2004, when the van in which she was travelling was struck by a trailer which had become detached from the pick-up driven by Clovis Crane (31) of Lebanon, Pennsylvania.
Mr Crane had fallen asleep of the wheel of his vehicle, and his consequently erratic driving had caused the trailer to become detached. It collided with the Link´s van and caused it to crash into guardrail – after which it rolled over three times.
Carla was thrown through the passenger window as her seatbelt snapped due to the force of the impact, and suffered a broken vertebrae, ribs, collarbone and forearm. She also sustained damage to her spine, pelvic area and legs, and was diagnosed with brain trauma and damage to her nervous system on arrival at hospital. Carla´s husband and daughter also suffered minor injuries.
Although having healed from many of her injuries, Judge Jeff Ford at the Champagne County Court heard that Carla is confined to a wheelchair and still suffers a skin sensation akin to being on fire because of the nerve damage. This exceptionally painful condition will remain with her for the rest of her life.
Liability was not contested and, making his announcement of the 11 million dollar award, the judge stated that it represented Carla´s medical bills (which amounted to 699,000 dollars), the loss of a normal life, physical disfigurement and her pain and suffering.
Claims for whiplash injury compensation are the highest in Europe claims James Dalton – Assistant Director of Motor and Liability for the Association of British Insurers.
Speaking in Leeds at the 2011 Whiplash Conference, Mr. Dalton stated that three-quarters of personal injury claims in the UK are for whiplash injury, and insurers are paying out nearly two billion pounds each year for whiplash claims.
According to figures revealed by the Association of British Insurers, approximately 1,200 claims for whiplash injury compensation are made every day in the UK – six times more than the claims received in a year from people claiming workplace injury compensation.
The Association of British Insurers estimate that the volume of whiplash compensation claims adds an average of 74.00 pounds to British motorist´s insurance premiums and, in his speech, Mr. Dalton called on the government to quickly implement their proposals on civil justice reform.
The changes, claimed Mr. Dalton, would ensure that genuine claimants received fair compensation and access to rehabilitation services more quickly, while the potential for fraudulent claims would be decreased.
An eight year old boy has been awarded almost 300,000 dollars in wrongful death compensation after his mother was killed in a road traffic accident due to the driver of the car in which she was a passenger being under the influence (DUI).
The unnamed boy from Douglas, Colorado, was just aged seven years when, in August 2009, his mother Grace was returning from an evening out with friends. The car in which she was travelling was being driven at excessive speed by Dominick Wilmer who, the Colorado Superior Court heard, was drunk and high on pot.
Wilmer was arrested after the accident and convicted of vehicular homicide for Grace’s death and that of another passenger in the car. No other vehicle was involved in the accident. Wilmer is now serving a 13-year prison sentence.
The High Court in London has awarded what is thought to be the largest personal injury compensation package ever awarded in the UK to Chrissie Johnson, now aged 20. The award was for severe injuries, including brain damage, that occurred in an traffic accident in November 2006, when she was a passenger collided with a lorry on the Epping Road, near Ongar, England.
The family has already received a payment £2.5 million, with another lump sum of £4 to be paid immediately. However, the the most notable element of the award is taxfree payments of £300,000-a-year to cover the costs of providing care for as long as the victim lives.
The total value of the compensation package has been estimated at £17 million.
Such as system of annual payments is under investigation in Ireland.
Google has been named in a road traffic accident claim in the United States. It has been claimed that Google Maps provided Lauren Rosenberg of Los Angeles, California, with dangerous walking directions while she was Park City, Utah.
The compensation claim is primarily against the driver of the car, but Google is also named in the lawsuit because it is alleged that Google Maps told her to walk along “Deer Valley Drive” – which happens to be State Route 224 and does not have a footpath. Google has defended itself by pointing out that the mobile version of Google Maps has a warning: ‘Walking directions (beta): Use caution’. Interestingly, the desktop/laptop version of the warning is more specific about the dangers of using Google Maps for walking directions and contains additional text: “Use caution–This route may be missing sidewalks or pedestrian paths.”
In a ruling that will have important implications worldwide for compensation cases, the US government has proposed a civil penalty of $16.4 million on Toyota because the company “knowingly hid a dangerous defect” that caused its vehicles to accelerate unexpectedly. Toyota was initially praised by US authorities for the way it handled recalls to repair faulty accelerator pedals on more than 8 million cars globally (including 2.3 million cars and trucks in the USA).
However, it later emerged that Toyota waited at least four months before reporting the faulty accelerator pedals to US regulators, in contravention to safety regulations that require safety defects to be reported in five business days.
Toyota is facing at least 177 consumer and shareholder lawsuits seeking class-action status and at least 56 suits claiming personal injuries or deaths caused by sudden acceleration incidents. The United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has estimated that 52 people have died in Toyota accelerator-related crashes. A much higher number of people have escaped death but been injured. On April 9th, 2010, the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ordered all federal lawsuits related to the Toyota recall should be heard together at the Central District of California before Judge James Selna.
There is also an unusual case of a Toyota Camry driver who claimed he tried to stop his car but crashed into the back of another car, killing three people. The driver in the read end car accident was sentenced to eight years in prison. The conviction was unusual because the car was clearly out of control having dodged cars at an intersection prior to finally crashing, and the driver had family members in the car. The investigation at the time focussed on the brakes, which were found to be working correctly, rather than investigating the accelerator.
Toyota car owners in the USA are also suing for the reduced resale value of the cards due to the recalls. The claim is supported by various industry guides to the resale value of cars, such as Kelley Blue Book, which lowered the resale value of recalled Toyota cars by an average of 3.5 percent. The price reduction was up to $750 for a Toyota Sequoia. The lawsuits related to lost resale value are considered a much greater financial liability than the lawsuits related to crashes because there are millions of Toyota car owners that may be entitled to compensation. In a previous recall in the USA, Ford Explorer owners were given vouchers worth between $300 and $500 towards the cost of a new Ford car.
Toyota Recalls in Ireland
Toyota Ireland announced in February that it was recalling 26,000 cars in Ireland, although this number was later reduced to just over 18,000. There was immediate speculation that drivers whose car was subject to the recall but ignored the recall and any potential problems with their vehicles could be potentially liable in the case of an accident and even face charges related to negligence. Toyota Ireland issued a statement on the issue of legal liability: “A driver of a potentially affected vehicle could only be the subject of a charge under the Road Traffic Act if involved in an accident if he or she is aware that their vehicle is the subject of this recall campaign and that he or she is aware of the signs of wear and tear, symptomatic of the defect in the accelerator mechanism and they have become apparent, namely the accelerator sticking or becoming slow to return to idle, and they continue to drive the vehicle in this condition.”
Toyota is clearly exposed to product liability claims due to its faulty accelerators, and will no doubt be involved in many road traffic accident claims, as well as pedestrian accident claims, claims from passengers in car accidents, and most of all, claims for rear-end car accidents where the rear driver is driving a Toyota car.