High Court awards £55,000 in personal injury case

06 February 2013

Court award £55,000 for '.. . very significant scarring...' on a young woman's face sustained in a boating accident.

A young woman who sustained injuries in a boating accident has been awarded £55,000 compensation. The award comprised £40,000 for what has been described as ‘…very significant scarring on her face particularly on her forehead and nose’, and £15,000 for injuries to her neck and nose.

In reaching its view as to the value to be placed on the scarring the court has taken into account the plaintiff’s evidence as to how it embarrasses her and how she keeps seeing it in the mirrors which confront her during her job as a hairdresser.

The plaintiff was involved in an accident on board a boat which she alleged was being driven in an unsafe manner. The boat had been carrying the plaintiff and a group of friends on the river Bann. The plaintiff alleged it was being driven around in circles, and across its own wake, causing such disturbance that the plaintiff was thrown across the boat, sustaining injuries to her face on impact with a pole, or part of the structure of the boat.

There was extensive disagreement between the parties on the facts of the case.

The plaintiff maintained she had remained seated during the outward and return journey and denied the defendant’s allegations that she had got up from her seat to speak to a friend. She asserted the only instruction given by the defendant was given when she had called out to him that she could not hold on – and that he had replied ‘hold on’.

The defendant’s case was that he had warned the passengers to stay in their seats on both the outward and return journey. In his evidence he said another man, a Mr Brown, had been wake boarding from the boat and that he had steered slowly in a circle to pick him up, at which point, despite his repeated warnings for them to stay in their seats, the girls were swapping seats and ‘carrying on’. He ascribed the plaintiff’s injuries to her unruliness on the boat and to her attempt to swap seats with one of her friends. He also gave evidence that the girls were intoxicated – although could not say whether the plaintiff had been drinking.

The court accepted the plaintiff’s account of the accident which it found to be entirely believable. It was noted that Mr Brown was not called to give evidence thereby creating a clear evidential gap in the defendant’s case. The court also noted there was no evidence whatsoever to support the repeated references to the plaintiff having been intoxicated and commented it was difficult to resist that the claims of the plaintiff’s intoxication were smokescreen to cover up for the absence of an otherwise credible defence to the proceedings.

As driver of the boat, the defendant had a duty of care to his passengers analogous to the duty a driver would have to passengers in a motor vehicle. The court found the defendant breached that duty and his unsafe manoeuvres caused the Plaintiff to be thrown from her seated position and sustain her injuries.

If you have had an accident and sustained injuries as a result of the negligence of another party, or have any queries in relation to this article, please submit your enquiry in the form below. Worthingtons have an experienced Litigation team who will be happy to contact you to discuss any potential claim you may have.

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