David Knifton KC and Chris Allen secure damages of £2.75m for amputee

April 25, 2024

At a recent settlement meeting in Manchester, David Knifton KC and Chris Allen successfully negotiated a damages award of £2.75m for a Lithuanian man who suffered devastating injuries to his right leg in an accident on 7th May 2018, eventually leading him to undergo an above-knee amputation.

The Claimant, who had been living in the UK since 2016, was riding as a pillion passenger on a powerful motorcycle taken for a test drive by his brother. Unfortunately, his brother lost control of the vehicle, causing it to collide with an oncoming car. As a result, the Claimant suffered a mild head injury, together with fractures to his spine, pelvis and ribs, from which he had fortunately made a complete recovery. More significantly, however, he suffered a number of complex open fractures to his right leg, associated with a de-gloving injury to his foot and a dissection of his femoral artery. Despite undergoing a series of salvage operations, the leg could not be saved, and he underwent an above-knee amputation almost 2 years later.

Since his brother was not insured to ride the motorcycle, a claim was made against the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB). Whilst accepting that the accident had been caused by his brother’s negligence, the MIB denied liability, seeking to rely on Clause 8 of the Uninsured Drivers’ Agreement, which excludes liability where a claimant was voluntarily allowing himself to be carried on a vehicle and knew that it was being used without insurance. They relied on a statement given by the Claimant to the police, in which he accepted that he did not know whether his brother had passed a motorcycle test or was insured, and asserted that they would invite the court to infer that he knew his brother was uninsured.

Whilst recognizing the significant risk that liability might be excluded under Clause 8, David and Chris advised the client against accepting an offer to apportion liability 70:30, and assembled an experienced team of experts to assess his needs and enable the claim to be quantified. At the same time, substantial interim payments were obtained so that the Claimant could undergo trials of a number of sophisticated prosthetic limbs.

During negotiations at the JSM in April 2024, David and Chris were able to present a compelling explanation for valuing the claim in excess of £3m. In particular, the quality of the Claimant’s expert evidence enabled them to rebut many of the MIB’s assertions seeking lower valuations of a number of heads of loss. The agreed settlement of £2.75m allowed a discount of only 15% for the liability risk. The award will cover the Claimant’s lifetime prosthetic requirements, the cost of purchasing and adapting a suitable bungalow, his care and therapy costs and loss of earnings, together with an agreed figure of £200,000 for his injuries. Counsel for the MIB confirmed that the settlement amount had been agreed because of the constructive approach taken by the Claimant’s legal team.

Commenting on the settlement, David Knifton KC explained: “This case demonstrates the enormous advantage of engaging an experienced team of counsel from an early stage, enabling us to advise on suitable experts, to assess the liability risks, and to quantify the claim accurately. By the time of the JSM, the Claimant had complete confidence in our advice, enabling us to negotiate the best possible settlement on his behalf.”

David Knifton KC and Chris Allen were instructed by Usha Nayee of Optimal Solicitors, Manchester.