Hudgell Solicitors’ expertise in handling complex, life-changing personal injury claims has been recognised by the company being shortlisted for the ‘Outstanding Case of the Year’.
The case, handled by experienced legal executive Jane Woodcock, involved a German airline worker who lost and arm and leg following an aircraft tyre explosion.
The worker had been given a faulty nitrogen rig by a ground-handling company based at Manchester Airport, leading to an explosion as he inflated an aircraft tyre, causing his catastrophic, life-changing injuries.
In order to bring the case to a successful conclusion – and a total settlement in excess of €1.75m – Mrs Woodcock had to fight for the case to be held under UK law, and set an international precedent for future cases of a similar nature.
The case took four years to resolve, involving firms of solicitors, barristers and witnesses in the both UK and in Germany, and ending in a High Court of Justice ruling in London.
It is now one of three shortlisted finalists in the category at The Eclipse Proclaim Personal Injury Awards, which are now in their seventh year and celebrate the excellence of individuals and organisations across the personal injury claims sector.
“This was a really complicated case, but one which we knew we had to win to secure our client the damages he deserved,” said Mrs Woodcock.
“We were just delighted to bring the case to a successful conclusion for our client, who through his sheer determination to overcome his catastrophic injuries is still working today.”
Mrs Woodcock had initially expected the case to be relatively straight forward. The Air Accident Investigation Bureau found the rig to have wrongly been measuring pressure in BAR rather than the internationally used psi – leading to the tyre inflating to a pressure 14 times higher than expected – meaning the UK ground handling company appeared firmly in the frame as sole defendants.
However, the matter became complicated when they sought to rely on a contractual agreement between them and the airline, which contained an indemnity clause in relation to liability for accidents.
This left the possibility of the claim having effectively to be pursued against the German employer and to be decided under German law, which operates in a very different way with regard to employer’s liability claims, leaving the client in danger of missing out on substantial damages he was entitled to under English law.
The matter was further complicated by the operation of the German Social Accident Insurance system and the relevant German Social Accident Insurance body seeking to recover their financial outlay in relation to cost of care, prosthetics, lost earnings, aids and equipment already provided and to be provided in the future to Mr Donkers – a figure in excess of one million euros.
The applicable law argument was resolved in the High Court of Justice in London, where His Honour Judge Brian C Forster QC found in favour of her client and the English defendant, ordering that the case be determined under English law.
The German airline and UK ground handling company contacted Mrs Woodcock and agreed a joint settlement for her client totalling 750,000 euros, and they also jointly settled with the German Social Accident Insurance, taking the total value of the case to 1.75m euros.
Managing director Neil Hudgell, said: “We are delighted to see that Jane’s hard work, over a number of years on this case, has been recognised with her being shortlisted for this award.
“As a firm, we are increasingly placing a focus on handling life-changing, high-value claims in which clients need the highest level of expertise, but also to be represented by a legal firm which is completely dedicated to securing the best outcome them.
“This case highlights our dedication to doing just that, and we obviously wish Jane all the best for the awards night, as we certainly feel she deserves to win.”
The awards are being held at the Grange St Paul’s in London on Wednesday, November 12.
Another Neil Hudgell Solicitors lawyer, Sean Gordon, is also in the running for a national award, as one of three shortlisted in the category of Compliance Officer of the Year for the Modern Law Awards, which will be held on October 15.