It was supposed to be an enjoyable scenic ride out on his motorbike, making the most of the sunshine on a hot summer’s day.
But as John Hannah was travelling from Burton Constable towards Leven in the East Riding, a car towing a caravan pulled across his path in a move that would change his life in an instant.
The father-of-three, from Anlaby, was hit by the side of the caravan and became trapped underneath it. He suffered a severe head injury, two collapsed lungs, a pelvic injury which required metal work to repair, back fractures, a knee injury, and a fractured femur.
He has faced a battle for survival, spending a month in intensive care, three months in hospital in total, and over the last three years he has slowly started to piece back together his life.
Now, having been awarded a six-figure damages settlement after being represented by personal injury specialists Hudgell Solicitors, the 50-year-old is finally looking to put the events of that fateful day behind him.
Obviously, I wish the accident hadn’t happened because it has wrecked the life I had. But, on the other hand, I’m still alive. I could have died,” he said, discussing his situation after confirmation of his compensation. I want to focus on moving forward now.
Moving forward has been made possible thanks to support he has received as part of the claim, covered by the other drivers’ insurance, to help him make the best possible recovery from the life-changing injuries suffered that day.
As part of the claim, it was alleged the driver had caused the accident and subsequent injuries to Mr Hannah by failing to identify his oncoming motorbike and failing to ensure the road was safe and clear before turning across.
The driver’s insurers admitted liability early in the case, enabling rehabilitation support such as being referred for 24 sessions with a private psychotherapist, as well as seeing various specialists including Harley Street professionals in London.
The settlement, for which the final figure was finally agreed in June after legal representations, also reflects the significant loss of earnings Mr Hannah has suffered as a result of his injuries.
He has been unable to return to work as an aircraft fitter, a job which saw him travel around the world “chasing money” as it was lucrative work.
“I can’t get around like I used to now and the impact on my life, especially work, has been massive,” said Mr Hannah.
“I worked on live aircraft all over the world and was in Germany from 2008 up to the time of the accident, fixing fuel leaks and damage from lightning strikes. I could be in the wings or anything. But because of my injuries, I can’t be covered now insurance-wise.
“I used to chase money and work, and I don’t like the idea of sitting around all the time. But now, my family are the most important thing.
“I’d like to find some form of work to do because that’s the type of person I am. The doctors can’t believe my progress, and I want to try, that’s just the way I am. I’m only 50 and work kept me young, but I haven’t been able to work at all since.”
Mr Hannah’s dramatic rescue following his accident was captured on camera by BBC One’s Helicopter Heroes film crew, who were on board the Yorkshire Air Ambulance which airlifted him to Hull Royal Infirmary.
He spent three months in hospital following the accident in July 2013, including one month in intensive care, and was unable to leave his bed for the first nine weeks.
He also suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of the accident, and has a five-week period of memory loss, including the day itself. He does not remember anything that happened.
It was only watching the painful Helicopter Heroes footage which enabled him to understand a little more about the circumstances.
“I don’t remember anything and I find it really difficult to watch the television footage,” he said.
“At first, the doctors thought I was going to die and they shut the road for three hours. I was conscious at the scene and they gave me drugs they give to injured soldiers in war zones, as my lungs had collapsed and I had internal bleeding.
“They flew me to Hull Royal Infirmary and I was taken straight to A&E. They had to contact my mum because my wife, Tracey, was away.
“I was placed in an induced coma and they took my spleen out straight away, which is why I now need medication for the rest of my life.
“Two days later, they tried to take me out of the coma but I had to go back in because I couldn’t breathe properly. Apparently, I couldn’t speak for the first two weeks.
“When I got out of bed after nine weeks, I was using a Zimmer frame with arm supports. But within two weeks, I was onto crutches because I was determined to get back on my feet.
“I’ve had great support from Hudgell Solicitors which has helped me get to this stage. The psychotherapist said I won’t get that memory back from around the accident, but maybe that’s a good thing.”
Solicitor Vicky Houghton, who represented Mr Hannah and secured him the compensation, said: “The impact of this extremely serious accident and long list of life-changing injuries has had a massive impact on Mr Hannah’s life, his mobility and his earning potential, as he has not been able to return to what was an excellent job which he loved.
It is very helpful when insurers quickly admit liability, as it ensures we are able to do our job in securing vital physical and psychological treatment to aid people in making the best recovery possible. This was the case here and that has helped Mr Hannah.
This case has resulted in a positive outcome for Mr Hannah. As he says himself, this was an accident which could have taken his life. He is thankfully continuing to make progress, and we hope the substantial settlement secured can help him continue moving forward and ease the financial burden the accident placed on him and his family.
Vicky Houghton, Solicitor