Important Case on Head Injuries

Partner Iona Smith

A recent High Court judgement has made it easier for Claimants to obtain compensation for mild traumatic brain injury.

The case was brought by the television presenter Jem Stansfield, who acted as a crash test dummy for the BBC in simulated crashes into a metal post at relatively low speeds. As a result of the experiments Mr Stansfield suffered a mild traumatic brain injury and psychological problems which prevented him from pursuing his television career. The BBC accepted that he had suffered a moderate whiplash injury but because subtle brain injuries cannot be seen on scanning they refused to accept that he had sustained a brain injury. Despite advances in medicine in the last 7 years, insurers have remained reluctant to accept the symptoms suffered by Claimants which can often have a devastating impact on their lives.

In this case the Judge had to consider whether Mr Stansfield had satisfied the legal test requiring him to prove the medicine underpinning his claim because the case involved the assessment of complex and disputed medical evidence. Mr Stansfield had to commission reports from a range of medical disciplines. The Judge was satisfied that the expert evidence in these different medical disciplines was sufficient to establish that the Claimant had suffered a mild traumatic brain injury which prevented him continuing with his career. It was agreed that although individually none of the injuries were particularly serious, the combination of them was sufficient to cause permanent ongoing symptoms that had a real impact on the Claimant’s life.

The Claimant was awarded more than £2,000,000 which was reduced by a third to take account of contributory negligence, as the Judge expressed astonishment that anyone thought using a human crash test dummy to simulate a crash was a sensible idea.

At Gaby Hardwicke we have extensive experience in mild traumatic brain injury cases and our expertise has been recognised by our accreditation and membership of the Headway Solicitors Panel. We have three decades of experience of representing accident victims who have suffered injuries such as these. We instruct top medical specialists in this area and use the barristers that are at the forefront of this area of law, including the barrister who represented Mr Stansfield in his case.

For further information about our personal injury services please contact Gaby Hardwicke Partner Iona Smith (iona.smith@gabyhardwicke.co.uk).

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