Accidents Abroad

Supporting Gulf War veteran in his ‘biggest battle yet’ – recovering from a brain injury after accident abroad

Client – Michael McDermott

Paul McClorry

Head of Travel Litigation & Serious Injury

6 min read time

Hudgell Solicitors are supporting a former world champion powerlifter and British Army gunner who says he is now facing his biggest battle after being hit by a drink-driver in France and suffering a brain injury.

Michael McDermott was a Bombardier with the Royal Artillery and served in his country in Northern Ireland on two six month tours, the Gulf War and in Bosnia before retiring from service in 2005.

He was also awarded an MBE in 2000 by Prince Charles for services to the sport of Powerlifting, at which he excelled and became a two-time world champion at his weight.

However, carrying a simple errand of going to the local shop for a bottle of lemonade, on Boxing Day in 2018, left the 48-year-old, from Stroud, Gloucestershire, facing the biggest battle of his life.

“I can remember going out and then the next thing I remember is being in hospital and it was January. The rest is just a blur,” he said.

“People have had to tell me what happened since and how I was hit by a French moped rider who was over the drink-drive limit, and also not insured. In that moment my life was forever changed and I’ve not been the same man since. It left me in a bit of a state to be honest and everything has been a struggle ever since.”

Multiple injuries suffered including a severe brain injury

Mr McDermott suffered multiple serious injuries, including many fractures to the right hand side of his face, his eye socket, spinal injuries, a fractured right hip and a severe brain injury.

A year-and-a-half later many of the physical and mental injuries are still present and impact on his life every day, as does the impact of his time serving his country.

“Serving my country in Northern Ireland twice, Bosnia and the Gulf War was psychologically challenging, but I was still able to get on with life and had a good job as a carer,” he said.

“I’ve been unable to work since the accident though as I looked after somebody who has severe cerebral palsy, so I’ve had to get by on Universal Credit. Not being able to work, nor really look after yourself, is a huge worry and struggle.

“I loved my work but I’ve had to accept that I myself now need looking after as I really suffer with my memory and I often have spells of dizziness. I also still suffer a lot of pain from the injuries.

“Life has been a struggle since this accident. It really has knocked me back. I was a strong, fit and healthy person but now I am aware that the brain injury affects me in many ways.

“I know that in the years to come I am going to need a lot more help, support and care. That is something I have to accept, and that is why this is my biggest battle. It impacts on me every day.”

Solicitors pursued claim for damages against Motor Insurance Bureau

Mr McDermott says he had little support in the initial days and weeks after his accident and as he began his recovery, and that things only started progressing when he was put in contact with Hudgell Solicitors’ holiday accident claims specialists.

They have secured an admission of liability from the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB), which has now paved the way for negotiations to begin over further rehabilitation and financial assistance. The MIB is a non-profit-making company set up by motor insurers and which enters into agreements with the Government to compensate victims of motor accidents involving uninsured drivers.

It covers UK citizens involved in accidents with foreign registered vehicles, either in the UK or within Europe.

“It’s pleasing to know that someone has said they are willing to take responsibility for what happened to me and ensure I am looked after,” said Mr McDermott.

“It feels strange to say I feel lucky, but I do because I am still here and I have had great support. I can’t praise Hudgell Solicitors enough because they explained the situation to me and how they were looking to secure rehabilitation and compensation for me.

“They have explained what help I am likely to need in the future, and when you face up to that, you realise you need all the help and support you can get.

“I now have to wait and see what the final medical outcome is, but I am hopeful that it will be something which gives me peace of mind for the future.”

Lawyers will now seek ‘substantial damages agreement’

Anthony Hey, a member of Hudgell Solicitors’ Travel Litigation team, represents Mr McDermott and says the holiday injury claim has been challenging, but one which he now expects will result in a ‘substantial compensation’ package being awarded.

“When people are injured on the UK’s roads, damages for the injuries and loss caused are in most cases covered by the insurers of the party at fault for the accident, but of course in this case, given the driver was uninsured and the incident happened in France, there were extra complications,” he said.

“This meant we had to pursue damages against the MIB on behalf of the French Guarantee Fund, which is the equivalent organisation in France.

“We were also keen to ensure the matter of damages for Mr McDermott’s injuries were not dealt with as part of the ongoing criminal proceedings in France against the uninsured driver, as our client would have received much less compensation than he would be entitled to had that been the case.

“We were successful in ensuring the civil matter was dealt with here in the UK, and that has led to the MIB now accepting liability.

“We will now be liaising with them in respect of on-going rehabilitation and financial support, and eventually seeking to secure substantial damages which reflect the significant injuries Mr McDermott suffered, the impact on his life, and his future rehabilitation, care and treatment needs.”

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