Accidents Abroad

Motorcyclist who suffered brain injury in Spanish ‘track day’ event set for six-figure damages settlement after High Court ruling

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Paul McClorry

Head of Travel Litigation & Serious Injury

6 min read time

A ‘significant six-figure damages settlement’ is to be awarded to a man who suffered a life-changing brain injury when involved in an accident at a motorcycling ‘track day’ experience in Spain.

It follows representation by Hudgell Solicitors who took his case for compensation to the UK High Court, overcoming difficulties given the accident happened in Spain, liability was fiercely defended and complicating issues over a lack of insurance.

The case took more than three years to reach court, with Hudgell Solicitors bringing the case against the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB), an insurance industry funded body which deals with claims involving uninsured or untraced drivers.

The accident happened in November 2017 at the Circuito de Jerez race circuit in south western Spain, a track which has hosted international motorcycling events, including the Formula One Spanish Grand Prix.

Our client, who was aged 70 at the time, was a motorbike enthusiast who had been riding bikes for more than 50 years and had extensive experience of track days in both the UK and Europe, events which see riders grouped with others of similar ability.

He suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and fractures to three ribs and his wrist in the accident, as well as significant psychological injuries. He was rushed to the Cadiz University Hospital where he was in the intensive care unit for two weeks before being transferred to a family ward and then repatriated to the UK in December and admitted to hospital in London.

He was eventually discharged to a Brain Injury Centre in January 2018 and finally discharged home in May of that year, but has since needed increased support from his family as he lacks strength and coordination, is very forgetful and becomes tired and frustrated quickly, resulting in a loss of temper.

Spanish lawyers and motorcycling experts instructed to support case

Representing the man’s family under a no-win no-fee agreement, which meant they faced no up-front costs to instruct our expert lawyers to act on their behalf, our head of travel litigation, solicitor Paul McClorry, led the case on their behalf. He said a number of challenges had to be overcome to firstly gather evidence to take the matter to court, given stringent denials by other riders for causing the accident, and also to secure a favourable judgment.

“Cases like this are hugely difficult as of course, firstly, because the accident happened in Spain, Spanish laws apply. Thankfully we have extensive international legal contacts and we were able to instruct a Spanish lawyer to advise us on liability issues under Spanish law,” said Mr McClorry.

“Then, as the rider who we alleged caused the accident was not insured, we had to pursue a case against the UK Motor Insurers’ Bureau, which ultimately acted as the compensatory body on behalf of the Spanish Motor Insurers’ Bureau.

“There was also the principal issue of “fault” to determine, and what was crucial in the case was video evidence from our client’s own camera, which he had mounted on his bike’s handle bars. Using this evidence we instructed an experienced, professional motorbike expert, competitor and instructor to give his independent opinion on the riding and cause of the accident.

“These track day events see riders grouped with others of a similar experience and ability, but they are not in an official race against one another, although of course the laps are timed. The video footage showed our client being overtaken very close to a sharp corner on the track, resulting in the other rider cutting across him, then suddenly breaking sharply, causing our client to crash into him.

“We alleged it was dangerous and negligent riding on the other rider’s part given the corner was so close. The judge agreed with us, although she did attribute 25% of the blame to our client. It is a good and fair result for our client in circumstances where the MIB contested each and every aspect of the claim and fiercely contested liability.”

Judgment paves way for interim payments before final settlement agreed

Although the final settlement is likely to be more than 12 months from being agreed, Mr McClorry says he will now seek interim payments for the client and family to help with care costs and home adaptations. (Update: Family awarded £250,000 damages thanks to the support of Hudgell Solicitors’ specialist travel litigation team)

“This judgment will result in a very significant settlement for my client, but that now has to be agreed between parties, or decided upon by the judge,” added Mr McClorry.

“I will now be pushing for interim payments as soon as possible as, unlike in cases in the UK against UK insurers where interim payments after often secured before liability is admitted to help cover the cost of care and treatment, the MIB were not willing to offer interim payments before liability was determined by the Court.

“This has obviously made life challenging for our client and his wife, as he needs a lot of care and support. To do this they moved some 30 miles from their home to live by their daughter and wider family, who now help them out. They are also in the process of having adaptations made to their home, including a walk-in shower and wet room, which hopefully we can now look to secure funding towards.

“The judgment will also pave the way to put in place a comprehensive private care regime, which will be beneficial to our client and his wife, as the impact of the accident on her husband, and their lives, has been significant too.”

Family grateful for ‘professional and sensitive’ legal support

Speaking following the court judgment, the man’s daughter said: “Dad’s full and very active life as a husband, father and grandfather was dramatically changed forever as a result of this accident. This has impacted our family on a number of levels and has been incredibly upsetting and challenging.

“Paul McClorry and the team at Hudgell Solicitors have supported us in a highly-professional and sensitive way throughout, putting Dad’s well-being at the forefront at all times. We’re grateful to them for their help and sensitivity during what has been an extremely stressful four years.”

If you’ve recognised that you or a member of your family has come to harm as a result of an injury abroad because of the actions of someone else, then you have the right to seek compensation and file a claim with us.

Our overseas compensation solicitors will centre their case around your interests and needs, ensuring the most appropriate and effective legal and medical specialists are handling your claim. For free legal advice, contact our travel litigation specialists today or begin your claim here.

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