Penningtons Manches’ travel law team has recently recovered a substantial damages award for a client who was injured in a road traffic accident in France in 2003. The settlement is particularly significant since the defendant’s French insurers initially offered EUR 11,000 in compensation.
Liability was conceded by the insurers at an early stage and Penningtons Manches then proceeded to evaluate the claim. The client had suffered multiple injuries in the accident, including a trapped nerve in his right wrist, a groin injury which led to a hernia, an injury to his foot, several broken teeth, exacerbation of a previous neck problem, extensive bruising and soft tissue damage. Medical experts also agreed that he sustained a minor head injury which led to post-concussion syndrome causing problems with memory, concentration, anxiety, fatigue and low mood over a two year period.
The French insurers issued proceedings in France in an attempt to ensure the claim was heard there. Following four years of litigation, Penningtons Manches successfully persuaded the French Supreme Court that an English court would be the correct jurisdiction to determine the claim. This was very much to the client’s advantage since it meant he could recover damages according to English law, resulting in a much more generous award.
The accident occurred at a critical time in the claimant’s career, at the end of a one year work sabbatical. He was just about to establish a telecommunication consultancy business capitalising on his position as one of very few people worldwide capable of building and rolling out new 3G networks. By the time he had recovered enough to be able to recommence his work, he had lost ‘relevance’ in the market and his skills were no longer in demand. Although he tried to re-enter the industry, he was unable to regain his former status. Penningtons Manches therefore argued that he deserved a substantial award for loss of earnings and for missed opportunities.
The defendant’s insurers made no concessions in relation to future earnings and contended that the claimant’s inability to secure a similar level of employment was unrelated to his accident. They also suggested that the fledgling business would have failed since there was little demand in the highly competitive market due to a telecoms crash. They maintained that any loss of earnings should be restricted to a two year period when he was unable to work.
The case involved complex evidence from employment and industry experts as well as forensic reports. Penningtons Manches also obtained supportive statements from high level business colleagues within the telecoms industry.
It did not prove possible to settle the matter at a joint settlement meeting and the case therefore transferred to the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court for a seven day trial. In the run up to the trial, the defendants made a Part 36 offer of £750,000, plus costs, which was accepted. The claimant was thrilled with the final outcome.