David Knifton KC secures £4m settlement for below-knee amputee

June 19, 2023

Following last-minute negotiations ahead of a scheduled JSM, David Knifton KC has secured an award worth approximately £4m on behalf of a 19 year-old man who underwent a below-knee amputation following a devastating accident at a farm.

The Claimant, who was aged 16 at the time of the accident, was working as a farm-hand during his summer holidays, having completed his GCSEs. A keen member of the Air Cadets, his ambition had been to join the RAF as a helicopter pilot. Whilst assisting the farmer to move some heavy lengths of angle iron using a front loader, the jib suddenly detached and the load fell, causing a severe crush injury to the Claimant’s left foot. Despite emergency hospital treatment, the foot could not be salvaged, and he underwent a below-knee amputation 3 days later.

The Claimant had been very active prior to his accident, enjoying sports such as cycling, shooting, snorkelling and water-skiing, as well as training for a private pilot’s licence. Although he will no longer be able to pursue a career in the RAF, he hopes to qualify as a commercial pilot. He is presently studying for a degree in land management. The settlement included a significant sum for loss of earnings, reflecting the disability consequent upon his amputation, despite the inevitable uncertainties in determining how his career might otherwise have progressed.

Liability was promptly admitted, and a number of substantial settlement offers were made at an early stage, which David advised the client to reject until his prosthetic rehabilitation was completed and the full extent of his future needs was known. Having successfully used both an Ottobock prosthesis with quick-release interchangeable feet for different activities, and undergone a trial using an Empower prosthesis with a powered ankle, a substantial claim for lifetime prostheses was formulated, which David conservatively valued at nearly £1.5m. This included the continued provision of the below-knee prosthesis with interchangeable feet, including attachments for running and skiing, together with a separate water activity limb and the Empower. There were also substantial claims for adaptations to his parents’ home, and for the purchase and adaptation of his own bungalow in the future.

Commenting on the settlement, David Knifton KC observed: “This case illustrates the importance of gaining early advice and input from a silk with extensive experience of amputee claims. The final settlement was double the value of the initial offer. By engaging a first-class team of experts, and ensuring that the client had the opportunity to trial appropriate prostheses and demonstrate their value to him, we had the evidence to formulate a claim which will ensure that he remains able to pursue as many of his pre-accident activities as possible, notwithstanding a life-changing injury. I wish him every success with his future career, whatever that may be.”

David Knifton KC was instructed by Dan Thompson and Yvonne Hall of Forster Dean Solicitors.