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Case Study 1. Record damages against a firm

''The £9 million payout is thought to be the highest awarded to a British citizen by an English court.''

A CYCLIST left paralysed from the neck down and on a life support machine has been granted damages of about £9 million after being hit by a company car driver while he was using a hands-free mobile phone.
 
The company representative, who has not been prosecuted, was on hold to his bank when he hit Timothy Sanders at about 70mph in his Peugeot. The incident occured on 14th Feb 2002 when Mr. Sanders was run down from behind whilst cycling past an intersection on the A3 near Guilford.
 
A court was told: 'The driver had been on the phone for some minutes, but at the material time he stated he was not actually speaking to anyone, merely waiting for his call to be transferred to someone else.'
 
The £9 million payout is thought to be the highest awarded to a British citizen by an English court and raises concerns of whether hands-free kits should be made illegal. Lawyers representing the driver's company insurers admitted that using the phone had played a part in the accident.
 
Sanders' solicitor, Simon Holt, said: 'This case shows the inherent danger of people making telephone calls while driving even if they have a hands-free system. The driver was never prosecuted but it was our case that using the phone had to have been a distraction or he would have seen Timothy.'
 
The judge approved a payment of £250,000 a year for life, alongside a £1.1 million lump sum, which could total more than £9 million during Sanders' lifetime. The funds will be used to pay for around-the-clock care. Although his brain is working perfectly, Sanders has been left immobile, unable to breathe, move, speak, eat or swallow on his own, requiring 24-hour care for the rest of his life.
 
Personal injury claims are rising by 10% year on year, leaving insurance companies with no option other than to dramatically raise premiums.