04 MAR 2015
Paul Tate (a protected party, by his litigation friend the Official Solicitor) v Ryder Holdings Ltd & Anor  EWHC 4256 (QB)
Personal Injury – Damages – Negligence
High Court, Queen’s Bench Division: Kenneth Parker J
16 December 2014
The claimant, then aged 11, was hit by a bus. He sustained a severe brain injury. A liability apportionment of 70-30 in favour of the claimant had been approved previously, and damages were assessed by the court. The defendant did not succeed on several arguments for having large discounts applied to the damages.
The claimant was knocked down by a bus and suffered a skull base fracture, bruising to the temporal lobes and cerebral oedema. He also suffered a contused lung and fractured pelvis; these injuries healed quickly. After slowly regaining consciousness over a few months, he began rehabilitation. The claimant was more aggressive and impulsive after the accident, and he had difficulties with concentration and memory.
Over the next few years the claimant resided in a number of residential care institutions. His behavior was disruptive and often he did not comply with his care regime. Later on, alcohol and drug use, violent behavior and unsafe sexual conduct became issues for his carers, and there was difficulty finding a suitable placement for him. The claimant was diagnosed with a severe personality disorder, and he required 24 hour care to support him.
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The defendant argued that the claimant was demonstrating personality characteristics which would have developed in any event. In cross examination the defendant’s expert reversed his view on the type of personality disorder suffered by the claimant, to agree with the claimant’s expert that it was an organic personality disorder caused by the brain injury. The defendant argued that the claimant would have lived ‘a life of irregular, menial employment and unstable, probably chaotic relationships’ in any event. Despite hearing evidence about the claimant’s difficult upbringing, the judge was not willing to accept the defendant’s bleak conclusions about what the nature and quality of the claimant’s life would have been but for the brain injury.
Substantial awards were made for care, PSLA, Court of Protection costs, lost earnings and other heads of loss. A reduction of 20% to the future care costs was made on the basis of likely future non-compliance with his care regime.
The painstaking analysis of the claimant’s needs in this case highlight the reality that the liability apportionment means the claimant’s needs may not be fully met. The claimant’s deputy will have a very difficult task in balancing the competing needs while managing the claimant’s finances.
Summarised by Adam Dyl & Robin Stewart, Anthony Gold Solicitors