The psychological scars borne by road accident victims can be just as serious as their physical injuries and they are equally worthy of compensation. Watson Ramsbottom’s compensation claims specialist Sian Rees
reviews a case in which an aspiring ski instructor who has been left with a fear of mountain roads after a terrifying coach crash in the French Alps has achieved a damages settlement of almost £80,000.
The man, in his 20s, was on board the coach with other resort staff when it collided with a cliff and burst into flames. He only survived by escaping through a smashed window. He suffered four spinal fractures, injuries to his left hand and right elbow, scarring and significant shock. He has endured long-term pain, post-traumatic stress disorder and a specific anxiety about travelling on steep hills. As a result, his hopes of qualifying as a ski instructor have been dashed.
After proceedings were brought on his behalf, the operators of the coach admitted liability for the accident. In awarding him a total of £77,476 in damages, a judge found that he has exhibited avoidance behaviour and endured nightmares and flashbacks since the crash. Intrusive memories of the accident have had a significant impact on his approach to travelling in coaches, by rail or by aeroplane. He had, if anything, underplayed his symptoms and the judge paid tribute to his stoicism.