£1.9m Awarded Following Grenoble Coach Crash

A Shropshire man was awarded compensation when the High Court sitting in London approved a £1.9m settlement. Lanyon Bowdler's catastrophic injury specialist Neil Lorimer said: “It has been carefully calculated to meet the claimant's extensive needs now and for the rest of his life. The fund will be held and managed by the Court of Protection and will be used to meet those needs. Part of the award also replaces his extensive loss of income following early retirement.”

24 passengers brought successful actions in the High Court of which this claimant was the last. They were being transported from the French Alps ski resort of Vars to Grenoble Airport for their return flight to Manchester Airport on 5 January 2007.

All but two of the passengers were a party consisting of pupils from a local school in Shrewsbury, the majority of whom were travelling with their parents. our client had organised the trip.

The accident occurred at approximately 06.35 hours on a mountain road just outside of Mizoen. Numerous flashing warning notices of black ice were passed by the coach along the alpine road. Notwithstanding the warnings of black ice, the darkness and the winding road the tachograph recording showed the coach to have been travelling at a speed of approximately 60mph at the time of impact.

The driver lost control of the coach when it hit ice. The coach smashed into a rock face, then spun 360° before demolishing a telegraph pole, striking the other side of the coach and coming to rest against a crash barrier, on the other side of which was a steep drop down the side of a mountain.

The claimant was found on the roadside near to where the first collision occurred. He was the most seriously injured passenger. Two of the parents on the trip were medics and they attended to the claimant and provided him with emergency treatment which, together with the considerable input at Grenoble Hospital, saved his life. Our client is extremely grateful for their assistance particularly when they were both involved in the accident.

The driver was prosecuted and convicted on 11 December 2009 of a driving offence and received a €600 fine.

Civil proceedings were brought against the driver, the local coach operator and their insurers in the High Court in England. Although the accident occurred in France and involved French defendants under European law a victim of a road traffic accident occurring in the EU can bring their claim in their home Court i.e. England.

Lanyon Bowdler acted for 24 claimants in total, the majority of whom sustained minor to moderate physical and psychiatric injuries. There was a complex dispute in the action with respect to whether the law to be applied to the issues of liability and assessment of damages should be French law or English law. Ultimately all of the issues were resolved by out of Court settlement with this particular case being the last to settle. A total of £2,125,250.00 in damages has been awarded.

Our client said: “I just want to say I am very grateful for all of the support and hard work put in by my solicitors, Neil Lorimer and his colleagues from Lanyon Bowdler. I also want to thank all of my family and friends, my rehab team plus the local community for all their help and support. Also, the staff at the school where I was teaching at the time of the accident have helped enormously.”

The case was the most serious injury of all the claimants. He sustained a serious brain injury and was in a critical condition in hospital in Grenoble before being flown back to the Princess Royal Hospital where he remained for several weeks. He suffered bruising and bleeding of the brain and required neurosurgery, plus a fracture of the skull. He suffers from headaches, dizziness, loss of smell and taste, deafness of the right ear and loss of balance. He has suffered a change of personality and the effects of his injuries continue to have a significant impact on his day to day life.

Following intensive rehabilitation and retraining together with very considerable effort and determination on the part of our client he managed to return to work teaching IT. However despite his best efforts he was unable to sustain his employment and is now medically retired.