Claimant Awarded Periodical Payments Under New Legislation
Neil Lorimer, partner and head of the personal injury department, successfully settled a claim for a claimant who suffered a very severe concussive closed head injury resulting in significant brain injury, fractures to his neck and a broken jaw following a road traffic accident.
The claimant, was travelling in his 1952 Series MM Morris Minor vehicle when he was hit head on by a vehicle travelling on the wrong side of the road. The driver of the other vehicle was uninsured. Due to the severity of the head injury, the claimant now requires 24 hour supervision. This is at present provided by his wife, with support from an enabler and Headway Shropshire.
Due to the fact that the defendant was uninsured, the claim was pursued via the Motor Insurers Bureau, an organisation set up to compensate the victims of negligent uninsured and untraced drivers. The MIB accepted the defendant drove his car negligently but argued that the claimant was partly to blame as he had not fitted his Morris Minor with seatbelts and should lose up to 25% of his damages.
We argued that it was not compulsory under the criminal law to fit seatbelts to a vehicle of that age, that it would affect its aesthetic quality and that the claimant was not acting unreasonably as many owners of such vehicles including enthusiasts, Magistrates and teachers have not fitted seatbelts. If a Court had found in favour of the defendant it would have had a massive impact on classic car owners.
The expert evidence showed that if seatbelts had been fitted it could well have significantly reduced the injuries. Settlement was reached with the Bureau, giving no discount for the seatbelt argument, for a lump sum of £450,000 and then periodical payments for the rest of the claimant's life starting at £25,000 per year and increasing to £45,000 in November 2011.
A new law giving the Court powers to award Periodical Payment Orders came into force on 1 April 2005 and as such this was one of the first cases to take advantage of these new powers.
This matter made front page news in the Shropshire Star newspaper. The claimants wife told reporters that she was very pleased with the outcome. She said: 'I can't praise Mr Lorimer enough and he has worked his socks off for us. Our lives have totally changed. My husband was a well respected businessman but had retired. To look at him now you would think he was the fittest man in the world but he can't be left on his own for more than an hour. He wants to be like he used to be.'