A landmark House of Lords ruling means that an East Yorkshire man will receive over £2m in compensation after a car accident left him paralysed.
Michael Gawler was involved in a serious car accident in 2004. He was travelling in the front passenger seat of the car when it came off the road when the driver lost control. In the accident, Mr Gawler suffered a spinal injury which resulted in him being paralysed from the waist down. He was not wearing a seat belt when the accident occurred.
The initial damages were set at £2.7m but this sum was reduced by a quarter because he was not wearing a seat belt. The insurers, however, argued that the damages should have been reduced by half. They launched an appeal against the award and the case was heard by the House of Lords.
The Lords ruled against a 50 per cent reduction and upheld the original 25 per cent reduction in compensation. Mr Gawler will, therefore, receive more than £2m.
Had the Lords ruled in favour of a 50 per cent reduction in the damages award because the claimant was not wearing a seat belt, this would have signified a shift away from the current position where the majority of the blame for a traffic accident is seen to lie with a driver who has been negligent.
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