Litigation Personal Injury 10/5/99

Walker v Nice (1999) QBD (Settled out of court) 16 March 1999

Plaintiff: Male, divorced, 31 years old at date of accident; 35 years old at date of settlement.

Incident: The plaintiff was injured on 8 September 1994 when his car collided with the defendant's, who had been driving on the wrong side of the road. While the defendant's insurer took responsibility for the crash, it disputed that the accident had caused the plaintiff's multiple sclerosis.

Injuries: Following the accident the plaintiff suffered headaches, dizziness, blurred vision and difficulty focusing. He also suffered cuts and bruises, pain in his neck, back and chest and had difficulty walking for two months. In November 1994 he suffered numbness and reduced sensation in his left leg and by January 1995 he was increasingly unable to coordinate his speech and retain his balance. In July 1995 he complained of an altered sensation in his arms. In October 1995 he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The plaintiff's condition had severe deleterious effects on his career ambitions. Prior to the accident he had been seeking a career as a computer consultant. Because of his disability he had to take alternative employment in a job that would be manageable if his health continued to decline.

Award: u150,000 total damages.

Plaintiff's solicitor: Dawson & Co

Plaintiff's counsel: Elizabeth Ann Gumbel QC

Caroline Ann Walters (By Her Sister & Next Friend Sarah Mickelwright) v Chichester Health Authority (1999) QBD (Turner J) 26 April 1999

Plaintiff: Female, 40 years old at date of accident; 47 years old at date of settlement.

Incident: The claimant suffered from chronic schizophrenia and was a patient at the defendant's hospital, which specialised in treating such acute psychiatric disorders. The claimant had made a number of suicide attempts, and had often been under close scrutiny. She resided in a first floor room facing a sash window on the corridor outside. No staff were on duty by the window and the area was not in view of staff further down the corridor. On 5 October 1991 the claimant was in her room with her door and the top of the nearby window left open. The claimant was injured when she climbed out the window and fell or jumped to the ground. She brought an action for damages alleging that: (i) the defendant had been negligent in failing to ensure the window was shut and posed no risk of harm; and (ii) there had been a breach of statutory duty under the Occupiers' Liability Act 1957.

Injuries: The claimant broke and displaced the mid-portion of her back between spinal discs T5 and T6. She was left with motor and sensory complete paraplegia from the chest down, permanently confined to a wheelchair. She remained a residential patient at the hospital but was treated as an NHS patient. Her medical needs had increased, needing intensive care on a daily basis. Medical evidence agreed she had a 5 to 10 per cent risk of developing a spinal cyst in the future. The effect would vary depending on the location of the cyst but it was undisputed that her condition would seriously deteriorate as a result.

Award: u253,536 total damages. The figure agreed was reduced to account for the inherent risks of litigation and the potential difficulty in establishing the liability of the defendant, which it continued to dispute.

Plaintiff's solicitor: Stewarts

Plaintiff's counsel: Andrew Spink

Cases from LAWTEL's PI Quantum Database. Contact Deborah Talbot on 0171 970 4823