Case study: £10,000 for unsecured seatbelt resulting in fatality

  • Posted

Our Personal Injury team supported a client and her family to claim compensation on behalf of her mother, who was involved in a fatal and avoidable accident whilst travelling in a taxi.

Accident circumstances and injuries

Our client’s mother, who was a wheelchair user, was collected in an adapted taxi from the care home where she resided to attend a family wedding. On the return trip home, the driver was driving around a roundabout when the victim, Miss J, slipped out of her wheelchair and landed on the floor of the taxi.

We argued that our client’s mother was not secured in the taxi adequately, specifically that the wheelchair lap belt was not properly fastened.

Miss J sustained multiple injuries and the accident triggered a chain of events which resulted in delirium and pneumonia. Our client’s mother sadly passed away five days later.

Claim for personal injury on behalf of the deceased

Miss J’s daughter, our client, instructed us to support her and her family in claiming compensation for the preventable passing of her mother.

We obtained permission from all executors of Miss J’s estate for our client to conduct the claim on behalf of her mother.

At this time, there was an inquest due to take place, so we postponed sending the Letter of Claim to the Defendant until this had happened. Unfortunately, this was delayed multiple times due to COVID.

After the inquest was repeatedly delayed due to COVID, we proceeded to draft the Letter of Claim.

The taxi company did not respond within the allowed timeframe, so we made an application to the Court for Pre-Action Disclosure. We hoped this would encourage the Defendant to provide the required documentation, so we could determine the likely success of our case against them.

The Court made an Order to disclose documentation relevant to the claim without the need for a hearing.

Unfortunately, the taxi’s insurance company denied responsibility, maintaining that the driver had properly secured Miss J and her wheelchair in the minibus.

We did not accept this defence as, if this were the case, we believed that Miss J would not have slipped out of her chair. We also considered that the driver may have driven negligently and/or recklessly, which could have been a contributing factor to Miss J’s fall.

The minibus insurers continued to deny our claim. They argued that the lap belt, which was part of the wheelchair, should have been used and that the belt was not their responsibility, but that of the carers and family.

Medical records obtained

Our personal injury team obtained the late Miss J’s medical records. We then proceeded to instruct a Consultant Geriatrician and Physician to review the records and prepare their own reports of the injuries sustained and the subsequent death of Miss J.

The report confirmed that she sustained fractures to her left tibia and fibula, and developed pneumonia and delirium whilst in hospital. It was also confirmed that these events were a direct outcome of the avoidable accident.

The inquest and settlement

The inquest date was booked, which took place more than 3 years after the accident date, and our team prepared Court proceedings.

We disclosed a copy of the medical report and provided details of the financial losses sustained by the Defendant as requested, and invited them to submit their settlement proposals.

The taxi company put forward an offer of settlement in the sum of £10,000, without an admission of liability.

Our client accepted the offer on behalf of her mother after we advised that this was a reasonable offer in light of the injuries, lack of dependencies and financial losses suffered. We were pleased to have supported our client in reaching a settlement to compensate for the pain, suffering and financial loss of Miss J and her family.

Get in touch with our personal injury solicitors

If you’ve been injured as a result of a road traffic accident that wasn’t your fault, you might be able to claim compensation. Our expert car and road traffic accident solicitors work with clients across the UK from our offices in Bristol and South Gloucestershire.

To speak to a member of our personal injury team obligation-free, call us on 0117 325 2929 or fill out our online enquiry form.



    How can we help you?

    We’re here to help. Please fill in the form and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. Or call us on 0117 325 2929.