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Legal 500 (2016)
German Coach Crash
£18000 recovered following coach accident in Germany
Mr C, a successful freelance journalist attended a conference in Germany in March 2006. The conference was organised by company A and various other companies sharing the interest in the success of the conference decided to promote or financially support the conference. Therefore company B decided to pay for the coaches that carried any invitees to the conference from the conference back to their hotels or the airport.
After attending the conference Mr C was one of those invitees to be picked up by the coach hired by company B. The coach driver failed to pay attention to a road sign that warned of the low altitude of a bridge. The coach was in the process of travelling underneath that bridge when the top of the coach hit the ceiling of the bridge causing a sudden halt.
As a result of the impact several passengers including Mr C. were pushed forward. Mr C. sustained a fracture to his nose and soft tissue injuries to the inside of his nose when he hit his face on the seat in front. He furthermore suffered from profound bleeding to his mouth caused by a deep cut to his lip and inside his mouth. He required sutures inside and underneath his nose, inside his mouth and to his lip. His face was badly bruised for several weeks. He suffered from travel anxiety and anger towards the event. It was recommended that he undergoes psychological treatment but Mr C refused this. He was concerned that if his treatment came to light, he would not be deemed as fit enough to work. It appeared that the BBC and other reputable news companies had already heard about the incident and decided to engage other journalists for the near future. It took Mr C several months to realise that the news companies no longer contacted him for work and before he could reinstate his former position, he had lost several contracts causing him a severe loss of income.
Although the company A had no legal obligation to pay compensation to Mr C company A decided to engage a German solicitor to handle this matter. IM led negotiations with the intermediary solicitor of company A and the coach insurers leading to an early out of Court settlement. This was a substantial amount given that Mr C’s damages had to be assessed under German law. In addition, the majority of his financial losses related to the “loss of a chance” rather than loss of earnings. Not all contracts with the news companies had been secured at the time of the accident and therefore Mr C had to rely upon witness statements proving that these companies had no longer taken him into consideration when outsourcing work to freelance journalists. The statements showed that although he had not been asked, he had been deemed to be unfit for work and that his former work providers therefore sought assistance by Mr C’s colleagues.
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