Hudgell Solicitors has secured compensation of £1.8m for a man who was left with severe injuries when hit by an uninsured driver – successfully defending an appeal against his settlement at the Court of Appeal in London.
Jubair Ali, who was 17 at the time, was a student at Havering College in East London and had been crossing a road with a group of friends when he was struck by a car at about 50mph – leaving him with serious head and spinal injuries, and suffering from brain injuries.
He was in hospital care for three months, needing spinal rods in his back for three years and had to have parts of his skull removed and replaced.
Eight years on from his accident, after legal battles which reached the High Court and then finally the Court of Appeal, Mr Ali, now 25, has finally been awarded the compensation figure reflecting the injuries suffered, and the impact they have had on his life.
The award was based on Mr Ali, who was hit half way across the road, being 20 per cent liable for the accident, as he should have taken greater care, whilst the uninsured driver was deemed 80 per cent responsible.
The settlement came despite the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) – an industry funded body which compensates victims of uninsured drivers – claiming Mr Ali had somehow been ‘consistently malingering’ to convince people his conditions were worse than they really were over the years of legal representation.
They suggested that once his settlement was secured, Mr Ali would live a much improved and more independent life.
That claim was rejected by judges in both the High Court last year when awarding the settlement, and more recently in the Court of Appeal.
Kent Pattinson, a senior solicitor who specialises in handling cases involving catastrophic injury such as spinal cord injury, brain injury and amputation cases, handled both the initial settlement case, and that against the appeal by the MIB.
He says the circumstances made it a case unlike any other in his 30-year legal career.
“I have not known many, if any cases like this, where an individual has clearly suffered such a serious injury at the hands of an uninsured driver, and yet the MIB has fought what must have been a hugely expensive case through the courts system, claiming Mr Ali had somehow managed to exaggerate his injuries for eight years,” said Mr Pattinson.
The case was further complicated as Mr Ali, who was born into a Bangladeshi family and moved to England aged just two, took and passed a UK citizenship test some six years after his accident, and shortly before the High Court trial was heard to settle the amount of compensation he was due to receive.
Given both physical and psychological injuries had left him unable to work or live independently, it was a shock to all when he passed.
“It was common ground between the experts that for Mr Ali to have passed this test was surprising and appeared to be inconsistent with the level of cognitive disability which he had displayed to them in various examinations over the years since the accident,” added Mr Pattinson.
“It would have been simply impossible for him to have pulled the wool over the eyes of so many experts who treated and cared for him over the years since the accident, and knowing him and his family as I do, I knew that wasn’t the case.
“It was incredible really, and wholly unrealistic to claim he had done that, as the judge concluded at the Court of Appeal.”
Firstly, a judge ruled in the High Court in 2012 that Mr Ali had ‘somehow passed without assistance’ – a ruling then supported by the Court of Appeal Judge Lord Justice McCombe this month.
Lord Justice McCombe said: “There can be no doubt Mr Ali suffered a very severe brain injury. He had passed the test. However, all were agreed that he was not a person who could have kept up a mere pretence of incapacity for so long.
“In my judgment, the Defendant’s argument over-emphasises the impact of the factor of this test success in the context of the evidence as a whole. It focuses upon the puzzlement of the experts as to their earlier assessments of the Claimant’s state, without due regard to the important reality of how the Claimant functions day-to-day and his clear inability to sustain some invented, imagined or exaggerated cognitive defect.”
Mr Pattinson concluded: “This was the right outcome. Mr Ali is certainly dependant on others in his life as a result of the severe injuries he suffered in this accident.
“He lives at home with his family who are quite rightly very protective of him as they know he is vulnerable as a result of his conditions, which all stem from the accident. He may be able to walk now and be physically mobile, but he can’t be left to live an independent life and relies heavily on the support of his family.
“It was a shock to all when he passed the citizenship test. Nobody was aware he was going to take it.
“However, as the judge said, that should not ever have been something to prevent him being given the rightful amount of compensation to help him and his family live the life they deserve.”
Mr Ali’s father, Jabid, said the money will only allow his son, who has recently suffered from a number of epileptic fits, to “live minimally for the rest of his life.”
“I would pray to god that no other family has to go through what we have for the past eight years,” he said.
“The money means Jubair will have a roof over his head. It does not make us millionaires.”
He said his son had probably passed the citizenship test ‘through luck’ as it was just ‘yes or no answers’ on a touch screen.