Martin Faull

Damages claims in motor vehicle accidents become complicated when liability issues arise. Those complications can be compounded when the client and the defendant were travelling in the same vehicle and were known to each other.

In this case, Lindbloms lawyers faced the prospect of their client receiving 25 per cent less in damages because the defence claimed he wasn’t wearing a seat belt.

The story

The client was a back seat passenger in a car that veered off a Highway, in rural South Australia, and collided with a tree.

The client was 16 years old and in year 12 at the time of the accident, and was achieving good grades at school. The client planned to work in the family business and eventually take over the running of the business. He was also very active, playing music and a variety of sports.

The client was ejected from the vehicle when it impacted with the tree, resulting in a brain haemorrhage, serious lacerations and two fractured ribs. He underwent brain surgery, was unconscious for a number of weeks and spent six weeks in hospital before he could be transferred to a rehabilitation unit. As a result of the accident he had a permanent brain injury resulting in slower thought processes.

Legal strategy

The defence admitted that the accident was the result of the negligence of the driver, but argued that the client was not wearing a seat belt and therefore the liability should be shared and the damages reduced by 25 per cent. This was not admitted by the client.

As leading legal experts in damages resulting from motor vehicle accidents, Lindbloms lawyers Martin Faull and Tiffany Laslett began work obtaining evidence about the extent of the client’s injuries, the impact those injuries would have on his life moving forward, in particular his future economic loss.  They also assisted with finding treatment providers who were leaders in their field and have the insurer pay for their assistance.

They argued that the fatigue, balance and dexterity issues resulting from the injuries impaired his ability to work and engage in social and recreational activities.

They demonstrated he suffered from poor memory, very slow information processing, reduced drive and other impairments of executive functioning as a result of the crash, and that he was not capable of independent living.

Due to the client’s young age, they were able to obtain damages payments for past and future economic and superannuation losses and future care and treatment costs, resulting in a damages payment in excess of $3 million.

The outcome

The client could not remember anything from the accident, so was not able to comment definitively on whether he was wearing a seat belt. However Martin and Tiffany provided evidence that he always wore a seat belt, and organised for an expert to explain that a pocket knife sheath worn on the client’s belt could have impacted with and released the buckle when the car rolled and struck the tree.

As a result of that evidence the insurer reduced its offer by only 15 per cent, rather than 25 per cent. This meant about an extra $300,000 in damages for the client – a result that makes a huge difference to the young man’s future.

Need advice?

Brain injury compensation claims are unique and complex, requiring support from a highly experienced lawyer.

Contact Martin Faull from Lindbloms for a free initial discussion about your needs.