Motorcyclist left paralysed in collision receives £1.5m damages

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Motorcyclist left paralysed in collision receives £1.5m damages

21st July 2010

A man who was left paralysed from the waist down after being knocked from his motorcycle has received £1.5m in an out of court settlement.

The man, who was in his 40s, suffered a serious spinal injury in the incident, which happened as he made his way to a job interview in London in 2005. Following a lengthy legal battle, serious injury specialist Matthew Clayton of Fentons Solicitors LLP successfully negotiated the settlement on behalf of his client.

"The morning of the incident, he had been riding his motorbike through heavy traffic on the approach to a set of traffic lights," said Matthew, a partner with the firm. "The road was a wide dual carriageway with a speed limit of 50mph, but traffic was congested and so my client was manoeuvring his bike between two queues of slow-moving vehicles, a move described as 'filtering'."

"As he continued to pass between the lines of traffic, a Lexus car pulled out from the offside lane and moved across to the nearside lane - knocking my client from his motorbike. He was taken from the scene to King George Hospital, Essex, where he was admitted for a day before being transferred to the Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire."

Matthew said his client's devastating injuries had left him wheelchair bound. "He sustained damage to his spinal cord which has resulted in paralysis of the lower half of his body," he said. "He also sustained fractures to his right shoulder and ribs and damage to his knee. He remained at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital for three months, where he underwent specialist physiotherapy and hydrotherapy treatments."

Matthew said his client continues to experience pain in his shoulder and back, made worse because he is permanently sitting down.

"He also suffers from a constant sensation of pins and needles in his legs, despite the paralysis," said Matthew.

The Lexus driver's insurance company contested liability for the incident, and Matthew and his client attended a trial at the Royal Courts of Justice in June this year, where the judge was presented with evidence from both parties.

"The defendant claimed that he used his mirror on no less than four occasions before moving out to the space provided for him in the other lane by a motorist who flashed him to say it was clear to move into the gap," said Matthew. "He also said he was indicating for a number of seconds before he performed the manoeuvre.

"But when interviewed by police at the roadside just 15 minutes after the collision, he had simply stated that he was flashed, indicated and moved towards the other lane - and it was only after hearing a loud bang behind his vehicle that he looked into his mirror to see the claimant's motorcycle lying in the road behind him. Under oath he conceded that this initial statement was a more accurate description of his actions than the statement prepared for the trial," said Matthew.

He added that road collision experts from both sides agreed that the practice of 'filtering' between lanes of slower-moving traffic was not only permissible but a well-recognised method of negotiating slower-moving traffic.

"The Judge found that primary liability for the accident lay with the defendant, as the claimant was there to be seen," said Matthew.

One week after the ruling, the defendants began settlement negotiations. "We were keen to ensure our client would be able to live as full a life as possible," said Matthew. "He will need care, treatment, specialist equipment and new accommodation as he rebuilds his life, and it was vital that his financial security was assured.

In July 2010, Matthew settled the claim for £1.5m. "The settlement takes into account not only my client's lost prospective earnings, but also the huge expenses - such as relocating to a specially-designed home and case management costs - he will likely incur over the coming years," he said.

"While no amount of money can make up for what my client has lost, he can now begin to move on with his life safe in the knowledge that he does not need to worry about paying for his own future care and treatment."

How can Fentons Solicitors help?
Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for victims of serious spinal injuries.

If you think that you have a case or require further information contact Fentons on 0800 0191 297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.