David Knifton KC

Call 1986
Silk 2018


"David is extremely bright and his ability to grasp complex matters is second-to-none. He is the best there is, he has excellent communication skills, and he is able to express himself very clearly."

The Legal 500 2024
Photo of David Knifton KC

Personal Injury

David practises exclusively in high-value personal injury and clinical negligence cases, primarily on behalf of claimants. He is recommended as a leader in those fields by both Chambers & Partners and The Legal 500. He will generally only accept new instructions in cases with a value in excess of £1m, and typically achieves settlements each year totalling over £20m.

His personal injury practice covers the following areas:

  • brain injuries
  • spinal cord injuries
  • claims for loss of a limb
  • other catastrophic injuries

Described by the Head of PI at a major UK firm as “a terrific advocate with a great natural bedside manner”, and by a partner at another leading firm as “simply excellent”, solicitors consistently praise his superb advocacy, thorough preparation, attention to detail, approachable and accommodating nature, clear and well-reasoned advice, excellent negotiation skills, and great empathy with lay clients, whom he involves in every part of the litigation process. Chambers & Partners describes him as “An excellent strategist who is completely trusted by clients and will fight tooth and nail to get the best result possible”, whilst The Legal 500 describes him as “a determined and able advocate.”

He has a particular interest in difficult liability issues, such as failures to wear seatbelts or cycle helmets, pedestrian contributory negligence, claims brought by injured servicemen against the MOD and claims arising from aircraft accidents.

An acknowledged expert on the application of the Ogden Tables, he has extensive experience of drafting complex Schedules of Loss in high-value claims, and invariably produces a spreadsheet indicating settlement parameters for any joint settlement meeting, providing the client with clear advice to enable them to make difficult decisions. His experience and proven track record in negotiations consistently leads to outstanding results.

Personal Injury Cases

MIB v Lewis (2019): Landmark ruling, in which the CA upheld a judgment that the MIB was directly liable under the EU Motor Insurance Directives for catastrophic spinal cord injuries caused by the use of an uninsured vehicle on private land. Although the injuries did not arise out of the use of the vehicle on a “road or other public place”, and hence fell outside the scope of the compulsory insurance requirements under Part VI of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and of the MIB’s liability under the Uninsured Drivers’ Agreement, the MIB was held liable under the Directives as an emanation of the state. Permission to appeal or to refer the case to the CJEU was refused by the Supreme Court.

O’Malley v Powertherm (2009): A claim for catastrophic brain injury and resultant quadriparesis sustained by a 28 year-old man who fell from scaffolding at work, which was settled at a global value in excess of £8.2m.

Borowski v Sands & MIB (2009): Believed to be the highest ever award against the MIB at that time, this was a catastrophic brain and spinal injury claim, brought by a passenger who was not wearing a seatbelt, which settled (after a 20% deduction for contributory negligence) at a global value of £8.125m.

Pearson v Mohammed (2015): A tetraplegia claim for a taxi passenger, who was not wearing a seatbelt, where a settlement (after a preliminary trial resulting in a 25% deduction for contributory negligence) with a global value of £7.31m was negotiated.

M v MOD (2018): A claim for severe brain injuries suffered by a Navy pilot who fell from the deck of an aircraft carrier, in which David negotiated a total award valued at over £7.1m.

MW v Hussain (2017): Catastrophic brain injury suffered by a blind member of the traveller community deliberately run down by a car, in which David’s collaborative approach led to a settlement worth over £7.16m, including provision for a farmhouse with space for visitors’ caravans.

Carver v Bingham (2014): Damages totalling £6.85m recovered for severe brain injury sustained by a pedestrian in a hit and run accident. David’s meticulous assessment of each head of loss and constructive approach to negotiations enabled recovery on a 100% basis, despite a significant risk of contributory negligence.

S v Jones (2020): £6.375m settlement negotiated on a provisional damages basis for a young man who suffered paraplegia as a result of a motorcycle accident, when his previous legal team had advised the claim was worth no more than £2.4m.

Fargher v Webb (2014): Claim for catastrophic brain injury sustained in the Isle of Man by a car passenger whilst not wearing a seat-belt, where a 100% liability judgment was nevertheless obtained, leading to settlement for £5.5m.

Hazlewood v Control Risks (2013): Damages of £5m recovered for incomplete tetraplegia suffered by a close protection officer working in Iraq.

G v MOD (2019): A total settlement worth almost £4.2m was secured in respect of an above-knee amputation to a soldier whose inadequately-armoured vehicle was struck by an IED in Afghanistan, after the MOD was persuaded to abandon its combat immunity defence.

A v Wood (2018): Settlement of £3.9m was negotiated on behalf of a motorcyclist who suffered severe brain and brachial plexus injuries in a collision with an oncoming car, despite evidence that he had failed correctly to fasten his helmet.

R (a protected party) v Vieira (2016): Damages of over £3.8m were recovered for a woman who sustained a brain injury and above-knee amputation in a devastating car accident.

K v Tradex (2020): Damages of £3.8m secured on behalf of a young man who suffered a severe brain injury in a car accident, in what is believed to be the first JSM conducted entirely remotely.

TP v Watson (2016): Catastrophic brain injury claim, where David’s Schedule of Loss (described by the judge at approval as “fabulous”) enabled rapid re-calculation of settlement parameters when the discount rate review was announced on the eve of the JSM, leading to negotiation of a £3.5m settlement.

B v MOD (2015): A claim for severe brain injury sustained by an Army recruit struck by a pace stick thrown by his drill sergeant, where a settlement worth over £3.28m was approved.

Stagnell v Jenkinson (2013): Damages of £3.25m were recovered in respect of a very severe brain injury suffered by a vehicle passenger who was not wearing a seatbelt.

W v Freightliner (2020): An award of nearly £3.2m was secured on behalf of a mechanical fitter who suffered a below-knee amputation after falling into an inspection pit.

M v MOD (2020): An award totalling over £3.1m was secured on behalf of a Territorial Reserve officer who suffered a major depressive disorder when his inadequately-armoured vehicle was struck by an IED in Afghanistan.

Craddock v Hardman (2014): Catastrophic spinal cord injury claim on behalf of 5 year old boy injured in a road traffic accident, where a settlement of £3m was achieved.

S v E-On (2018): David negotiated a settlement of £2.75m on behalf of a young woman who underwent a below-elbow amputation as a result of suffering an electrocution at work.

Williams v Manor Bakeries (2014): A claim for catastrophic brain injury suffered by a fitter whilst dismantling a steel column at work, where a settlement of over £2.5m was negotiated, ensuring that his future care needs would be met if his marriage failed.

Speed v MOD (2016): A settlement worth over £2.35m was negotiated for an Army captain who suffered severe brain and orthopaedic injuries in a mountaineering exercise.

M v MOD (2020): An overall settlement worth over £2.15m was negotiated on behalf of a Royal Marine who suffered multiple orthopaedic injuries when his inadequately-armoured vehicle was struck by an IED in Afghanistan.

W v S Evans & Sons Ltd (2019): Catastrophic injury claim, in which the Claimant suffered amputations of both hands in an industrial accident. A settlement of £2.1m was negotiated. Although the Claimant ultimately derived limited assistance from myoelectric prostheses, the settlement included the full purchase costs of a suitably-adapted bungalow, together with substantial carer support.

M v Harper (2020): Damages of £1.9m recovered for a brain injury sustained by a child pedestrian struck by a car, where there was a significant dispute between experts as to the nature and severity of his injury.

Browne v Ward & Burke (2017): Damages of £1.85m were recovered on behalf of a construction worker who suffered bilateral below-knee amputations when his legs were crushed by steel piles, despite a firm denial of liability.

N v Walker & EUI Ltd (2019): Severe brain and orthopaedic injuries to a young female passenger in an RTA. The Defendants sought a deduction for contributory negligence, arguing that she had encouraged the driver to drive dangerously. A settlement of £1.7m was negotiated, including a contingent claim for future care costs.

C v British Steel (2021): Damages of over £1.63m were secured for a 63 year-old man who suffered an above-knee amputation when his leg was crushed by the gearbox and axle of a slag cart on which he was undertaking maintenance.

A v Patel (2018): Damages of £1.5m on a provisional basis obtained on behalf of a young man who was struck by a car which mounted the pavement, resulting in severe orthopaedic injuries to both legs, requiring extensive surgical reconstruction.

Haines v Stobart (2018): Damages of £1.4m negotiated on behalf of an HGV driver who suffered a functional neurological symptom disorder, leading to significant disability, following a minor back injury when the step of his cab collapsed.

Wickenden v Mehmood (2017): A below-knee amputation to a motorcyclist, in which David negotiated a settlement of £1.4m.

Moran v Buffaload (2017): Damages of £1.4m negotiated on behalf of a coach driver who suffered incomplete tetraplegia in a road traffic accident.
S v B (2020): David secured an award of over £1.2m for a pedestrian who suffered a severe brain injury when he stepped in front of a car whilst drunk, after a previous QC had advised that the claim had little prospect of success.

King v MIB (2021): A net settlement of £1m was negotiated shortly prior to trial on behalf of a motorist who suffered a below-knee amputation in a high-speed collision, where liability was likely to be apportioned on a 50:50 basis.