Passenger injured after driver falls asleep at the wheel

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Passenger injured after driver falls asleep at the wheel

18th October 2010

A 19-year-old man who sustained multiple injuries when the car he was a passenger in crashed into the central reservation of the M4 after the driver fell asleep, has been awarded £500,000 in compensation.

Vijay Mehan, a road traffic accident specialist at Fentons Solicitors LLP, said his client was extremely lucky to have survived the crash which could so easily have ended in tragedy in 2006. "My client remembers lying at the side of the motorway in extreme pain, with the driver stood over him in tears repeatedly apologising for falling asleep," said Vijay.

The client was taken by ambulance to Great Western Hospital in Swindon with extensive injuries including a shattered left ankle, compound fractures to the right leg, fractured ribs, a protruding right shoulder-bone, severe concussion and numerous lacerations to his head, back, face and arms.

Undergoing immediate surgery to his left ankle, the man had an external frame fitted and a nail inserted into his right leg. He was then transferred to Frenchay Hospital in Bristol where he stayed for four weeks, receiving skin grafts and undergoing surgery to his legs before returning to Great Western Hospital for a further month.

He was discharged from hospital in a wheelchair, and after five months was still largely immobile. Referred to a private medical expert, the client was advised that his left ankle required a fusion operation, which could only take place once the nail initially inserted in his leg - which had now become infected - was removed and replaced with a large metal plate.

The operation to remove the nail was carried out nine months after the victim was first discharged. Further skin and muscle grafts were taken and his leg placed in a cast for five more months. The ankle fusion operation was finally carried out in September 2008, some three years after the accident. But it was then discovered that the man's right tibia had become infected and required immediate surgical intervention.

"Due to his injuries, my client has had to endure three years of immobility and surgery," said Vijay. "Previously employed as a groundsman laying kerbs and road surfaces, the nature of his injuries means he will never again be able to return to this type of work - work he was both skilled at, and enjoyed."

The settlement took into account the pain, suffering and loss of amenity the claimant faced, his future care and assistance including extensive physiotherapy, lost earnings since the accident and future lost earnings calculated until retirement age.

"We are pleased with the outcome of this case," said Vijay. "As well as the settlement we were able to secure several interim payments to help fund the numerous surgical procedures and operations my client had done privately. Although no amount of money can compensate the ordeal and lost opportunities he has suffered as a result of his injuries, this award will hopefully help him to move on with his life."

The driver was subsequently convicted of being over the drink-drive limit and dangerous driving. He was sentenced to eight months in a young offenders institute and disqualified from driving for three and a half years.

In September 2010 Vijay, acting on behalf of his client, settled the case with the defendant's insurance company for the gross sum of £500,000.

How can Fentons Solicitors help?

Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for victims of road traffic collisions.

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.