A passenger who suffered life-threatening injuries when trapped and crushed under a car which was crashed by a drunk driver has warned others to make sure they don’t make the same mistakes he did, putting his life at risk.
Doctors told James Logan, 23, of Barnsley, West Yorkshire, that it was a miracle he survived the accident, in which he was thrown from the vehicle when the driver lost control and crashed just moments after setting off.
James had got into the back seat of the blue Fiat Seicento for a short journey after a night drinking with friends, unaware the driver was still well over the drink-drive limit at 8.30am the following morning.
He was still to fasten his seatbelt when the driver lost control on a bend just moments after setting off, throwing James from the car, which then came to rest on top of him after rolling over several times.
He suffered a fractured spine, a broken collar bone, dislocated shoulder, fractured ribs, crushed sternum, and nerve damage in his neck and back, with doctors telling him that due to the car landing on him, there had been ‘around 101 ways in which he could have died’.
However, James, who was also diagnosed with a tremor shaking disorder for which he continues to need treatment, survived to tell his story of regret, and now wants to warn others not to make the same mistakes he did that day.
“It seems stupid looking back now, but I hadn’t seen the driver drinking after I joined the group at 11pm the night before, as I only joined them after my shift at work. I was aware he had been drinking before I arrived, but I assumed he hadn’t drunk for around eight hours when we all got in the car the next morning.
“We weren’t going far, and we had only been travelling what seemed like a matter of seconds before he suddenly lost control, and the next thing I knew the car was rolling over in a field.
“It all seemed like slow-motion, and the next thing I can remember was being trapped under the car.
“I was fully conscious at the time, and I was pretty calm as surprisingly, I didn’t feel in great pain. I knew I had damaged my shoulder, but I didn’t realise the extent of the injuries I had suffered, and how I could easily have died had the car been in a slightly different position.
“Doctors and paramedics said it had actually been more likely for me to die than survive given the circumstances of the accident. There was a ditch just yards from where we finished up, and had we ended up in there with the car on top of me, I would have drowned.
“Because the driver was injured and unconscious, they couldn’t lift the car off me until they had rescued him from the wreckage. Then they had to get inflatables to lift the car off me.
“Because it was winter, and it had been raining heavily, the ground was soft and spongy, and I was told that had saved me. Had it been summer, and a hard ground, I would have been likely to have been crushed and died. I guess I was just very lucky.”
As a result of the accident, which happened on December 19, 2013, James is no longer friends with the driver of the car, who faced prosecution for driving over the legal limit. The driver, and a front seat passenger, escaped without any serious injury.
James still suffers from back and neck pain every day, and needs to take medication to bring his shaking disorder under control.
Insurers for the driver recently agreed to pay £25,000 compensation to James for his injuries, following representation from personal injury specialists Hudgell Solicitors.
Solicitor Jenni Mitchell said it was a case which acts as a clear warning for people to always consider carefully who they get into a car with.
“There are many lessons to be learned from this case, and as James has openly admitted, he is lucky to have escaped with his life intact,” she said.
“We all have to take responsibility for ourselves when getting into any vehicle, and assessing whether the driver is fit to be at the wheel is something we should all do every time, particularly if we know that person has consumed alcohol that day, or even the night before.
“Ultimately though, this driver showed no consideration at all for the safety of those who travelled with him that morning, or other drivers on the road. He lost control and veered off the road. Thankfully no other vehicle was involved and nobody was killed, but this could easily have resulted in a head-on collision with another car, and the loss of numerous lives.
“For James, it has been a difficult and harsh lesson. He made mistakes we know he will never make again.
“We were pleased to be able to secure him compensation for the pain and suffering he endured in what was a very serious accident, and we hope he is able to move on from this incident and look forward, rather than back with regret.”
James added: “I will certainly never make the same mistakes again. Getting into the car with somebody who has been drinking is ridiculous, as is not taking the seconds it takes to fasten a seat belt. I say clunk-click every trip now, and I stick by that.
“Before I would often still be doing my belt as a car drove away, but now I make sure it is done before a car starts.
“I am happy to tell my story in the hope that it makes any others think twice when they are passengers in a car. You have to be in control of your own destiny.”
If you have been involved in a road traffic accident, you can find out more about making a claim here. You can also call one of our experts who can answer any of your questions, on 0808 159 8239.