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Written on 19th February 2024 by Claire Roantree

Boyes Turner’s head injury solicitors have secured a £7 million settlement for a client who suffered a severe brain injury with devastating long-term consequences whilst riding on the bonnet of a moving car.

Car surfing is dangerous and can cause serious injury

Riding on top of a moving vehicle, sometimes known as ‘car-surfing’, is dangerous and can lead to very serious injury. Our client’s partial responsibility for the accident and injury or ‘contributory negligence’ was reflected in the settlement by a 40% reduction in compensation. However, we fought for our client’s right to compensation because, even in these circumstances, the driver of a vehicle is responsible for the safety of their passengers. In this case, the driver knew that their friend was on the bonnet and should not have driven the car. The driver failed in their duty of care by driving away and our client had a right to be compensated for injuries caused by the driver’s negligence.

Admission of liability and contributory negligence

The driver’s insurers initially responded to the claim by strongly denying that their driver was responsible for our client’s injury. The driver was then prosecuted in the criminal court and after pleading guilty was convicted for causing serious injury by dangerous driving, leading to a custodial sentence and disqualification from driving. Following the criminal conviction, the driver’s insurers admitted liability in the claim, subject to contributory negligence for our client’s own behaviour.

Lifelong disability from severe brain injury

Our client suffered a severe brain injury and was left with a combination of neurological, neurocognitive and neuropsychiatric problems, behavioural disorder, personality change and an increased risk of epilepsy. Additional disability from the brain injury included impaired balance, grip strength, sense of taste and smell, numbness in one arm and hand, and cognitive (mental) problems with speed of processing, learning, attention and concentration, decision making, planning, organising and memory. Emotional and behavioural effects of the brain injury include irritability, anger, agitation, verbal and physical aggression, mood swings, impulsivity, rigidity in thinking, perseveration (repeated responses), disinhibition, low motivation and fatigue. Our client has no insight into the extent of these problems and lacks mental capacity but is physically mobile. Our client’s complex condition requires management by 2:1 support to avoid further injury and appropriate accommodation.

£700,000 interim payments and rehabilitation

Our request for extensive rehabilitation for our client was refused by the driver’s insurers. We also rejected an unacceptable conditional offer of funding. Instead, we secured interim payments totalling £700,000, which helped pay for case management and rehabilitation. We were able to move our client from an unsuitable social services-funded rehabilitation placement to a neuro-rehabilitation centre and then into supported independent living in a rented property, with multi-disciplinary team (MDT) support, care and therapies, including speech and language therapy, occupational therapy (OT), neuropsychological and neuropsychiatric treatment, as well as paying for medical expenses and a suitable car.

As our client’s care needs are so extensive, and a reduction in compensation for contributory negligence was anticipated, our community care team also secured significant social care funding to help pay for round-the-clock care.

£7 million compensation in out-of-court settlement

Our client’s case was scheduled for a trial to decide on the extent of the contributory negligence. Whilst preparing for trial, we negotiated a £7 million out-of-court settlement during a joint settlement meeting (JSM) with the driver’s insurers. The settlement reflects a 40% deduction for contributory negligence from the claim’s potential full value of over £11.5 million.

Our client’s compensation is protected by Court of Protection deputyship. The family’s privacy is protected by an anonymity order.

If you have suffered a serious injury that was wholly or partly caused by someone else’s negligence, you can talk to one of our experienced solicitors, free and confidentially, to find out more about rehabilitation or making a claim by contacting us.