Derek was knocked down by a motorcyclist but there was evidence that Derek may have walked in front of the motorbike and caused the accident.
Derek, an 81 year old voluntary guide at the Tate Britain Gallery on Millbank in Westminster, was walking to work in the early evening of Monday 09 June 2008.
In order to get to work he needed to cross Millbank and while doing this Derek was hit by a motorcyclist, who was driving towards Westminster at the time.
Derek had no recollection of the impact, nor indeed his precise actions in the moments leading up to impact. Extensive searches were made for CCTV footage of the collision but no footage existed.
But the defendant motorcyclist had a clear account of what happened, and was supported by the only traceable independent witness to the collision. They both said that Derek had been standing by the side of the road, which comprised of three lanes, before he moved into the road and positioned himself in between the edge of the first lane of traffic, a bus lane, and the second lane of traffic.
They alleged that, without warning, Derek suddenly started to run across the road to get to the safety of the central reservation. In doing so, Derek ran into the path of the defendant motorcyclist, who claimed he was riding his motorbike at 30 mph (the speed limit on the road). Derek's actions gave the motorcyclist inadequate time to react and he hit Derek, approximately one metre away from the central reservation.
Derek was taken by air ambulance to the Royal London Hospital. He suffered life threatening injuries including a head injury, fractures to his second and third cervical vertebrae, further fractures to his first, second, third and fourth lumbar vertebrae, a number of rib fractures, a severe fracture to his right arm and a series of fractures to his pelvis resulting in a two to three centimetre separation of the pubic symphysis.
Further fractures were sustained to the right hip, right knee, and left ankle. Derek also suffered a number of internal injuries which left him with erectile dysfunction.
Derek required a large number of surgical procedures at the Royal London Hospital where he remained until 13 July 2008 when he was transferred to the Charing Cross Hospital, where he remained until 18 august 2008.
Derek was finally transferred to the Lady Skinner Hospital before being discharged on 09 September 2008. Derek's recovery was further complicated by the development of Dupuytren's contracture (where the fingers bend towards the palm of the hand and can not be fully straightened).
Before the road accident Derek was extremely active, taking part in competitive dinghy racing and sailing. As a result of his injuries Derek was unable to return to such activities, indeed he had problems walking much further than a mile, something that was never remotely an issue.
Mark Bowman first met with Derek whilst he was at the Charing Cross Hospital. An immediate needs assessment was organised and paid for by the defendants.
Mark began investigations into liability and the police report obtained following the police decision to take no action against the defendant motorcyclist. The defendant insurance company initially refused to make any form of admission of liability, based on the evidence of their client and the evidence of the independent witness.
Following lengthy correspondence, the defendant insurance company eventually made an offer on liability whereby whilst the motorcyclist would be primarily liable, Derek's damages would be reduced by 74%, to reflect his fault in causing the accident. Mark and Derek decided to reject this offer.
Extensive research was conducted so as to asses the likely findings that a Court would make with regards Derek's actions, on the basis that the account provided by the Defendant and the independent witness were correct. It was felt that a reduction of anywhere between 50 and 75% was possible.
In the meantime, expert evidence was obtained from a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon and a Consultant Urologist, in order to assess Derek's condition and his likely future prognosis. Following receipt of the reports, negotiations with the Defendant insurance company commenced, and Derek accepted the sum of £95,000 in compensation, this including a notional 60% deduction to account for his own contributory negligence. Derek will not pay any legal fees from this amount.
At the end of the case, Mark said:
"The settlement represents a very good outcome in what was a very challenging case. Unfortunately we were faced with extremely unfavourable evidence on liability and it was clear that Derek would face a significant deduction for his own actions. £95,000 represents a substantial sum of compensation which I hope helps Derek in the years to come.
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