Rebuilding a shattered life

Barry Christie was riding his Yamaha R6 motorcycle home having visited his brother in law in May 2017.  He was riding South on the A95 and was involved in an incident near Boat of Garten when a driver turned right across his path. Sightlines were good and Barry was there to be seen. In the catastrophic collision that followed, Barry was thrown from his motorcycle sustaining a serious head injury, spinal fractures and fractures to his left knee, right arm and hand. He was taken to hospital where he remained for over a week. 

Barry Christie Collision Locus_A95
The collision locus. A95

Extent and impact of motorcycling injuries  

Due to the extent of his head injury, Barry had no recollection of the collision. He was an experienced rider and local to the area. Barry approached Motorcycle Law Scotland having heard about us through a fellow motorcyclist. Barry was employed as a painter and decorator at the time and was worried about how he was going to support his family. His injuries were so severe, it was clear from an early stage that he would not be able to get back to work.

Getting the Right Result 

As is so often the case, even though it was clear that Barry was not at fault, the driver’s insurers would not admit liability. Their driver was charged with careless driving and had pled not guilty.

Driver's road position and collision locus
The Third Party’s road position at the locus.

The matter went before a Sheriff at Inverness Sheriff Court in May 2018 where witness evidence was heard from other drivers that had seen the incident and also from the accused driver.  The driver admitted that he had not seen Barry or his motorcycle until after the collision. He didn't even know what he had hit until he got out of the car. He alleged Barry was riding at speed and suggested that was why he hadn’t seen him. The Sheriff found the driver guilty of the charge of careless driving and he was given 3 points and a £250 fine.

Offside damage to vehicle

The Third Party vehicle showing extensive offside damage

Rehabilitation and Rebuilding

Due to the severity of the injuries, we immediately instructed a specialist Occupational Therapist to identify what had to be done to help Barry with his recovery. This specialist OT was appointed as his Case Manager and we are proud of our record in working with independent case managers who are often former Nurses or OTs. Whilst we get on with building a legal case, the Case Manager’s job is to identify need and set out a structured program of rehabilitation. We always strive to get the best outcome for our clients which is why we work so hard to fight cases but never leave a client behind. Rehabilitation is key to recovery. Barry was supported by his Case Manager throughout. She assisted with identifying treatment, arranging physiotherapy, arranging for Barry’s driveway to be paved as he had just started the job before his incident and couldn’t finish it himself. 

Meantime, we spoke with all the police officers and witnesses. There was no evidence of speed on Barry’s part. The sightlines had been good but this driver just had not seen Barry when he should have. The driver’s insurance company continued to deny liability and so we raised the action in The Court of Session.

To establish the extent of the multiple and complex injuries sustained by Barry, we instructed numerous medical consultants in Orthopedics, Neuropsychology and Neurology. Barry had been left with cognitive deficit and as is so common with those who have suffered polytrauma, he was left with ongoing severe fatigue. Barry found himself having to re-learn many simple tasks. The accident had a profound impact on Barry’s family life. He was simply unable to do so many of the activities he had responsibility for pre-incident. His wife became his carer and the sole breadwinner. 

Physically unable to work but determined to push himself, Barry persevered and became a volunteer driver on a part-time basis. He couldn’t work two days in a row as he needed a day between to recover. Despite the challenges, Barry enjoyed his voluntary work and the sense of achievement it gave him. Although the family held it together, there were dark days and it was difficult for Barry’s wife. We knew there would be light at the end of the tunnel, but it can be a long and difficult journey for an injured motorcyclist coming to terms with their limitations and being unable to do what they had previously taken for granted.

We are acutely aware of the stresses and strains clients face with the legal process. Surely, if the driver is convicted, his insurance company should just pay up. However, in our experience, it’s never as simple as that. Third party insurers are quick to allege a motorcyclist’s speed contributed to the collision and that is why so many cases end up in the civil courts.

Why are Motorcycle Law Scotland Different?

We pushed on and held firm supporting Barry all the way. As the date for the court hearing got closer, we received a number of substantial offers in settlement of Barry's case but held out until finally we secured a good offer in settlement that we were happy to recommend Barry accept. The financial settlement gave Barry the security he so needed for his future. The rehabilitation that went on throughout allowed Barry to return to voluntary work and to live with the effects of his injuries. A different life perhaps, but a fulfilling one with his wife and family by his side.

This case highlights how Motorcycle Law Scotland don’t just process your legal claim for compensation. We look at the big picture and that starts with rehabilitation. We will build a case whilst independent case managers assist with rebuilding the injured. The one wish so many of our clients have is that their incident had just never happened. The purpose of an award of damages is to place the injured back to the position they would have been but for the accident. That is clearly not possible and so the award of compensation is a rather crude way of attempting to do that. We will always push for the highest award of compensation but consider rehabilitation to be key to recovery. Everyone is an individual with their own unique circumstances and that’s why our service is tailored to an individual’s needs. We are proud of the support we have provided and will continue to provide to the motorcycling community.

Barry had this to say:-

"I was knocked off my motorbike and sustained some very serious life-long injuries. Whilst in hospital a friend recommended Brenda and Motorcycle Law Scotland. So, from the comfort of my hospital bed, I made contact. Brenda was quick to respond and visited me at home the week after I was discharged. Brenda fully supported me and my family throughout this very stressful time. Brenda and her team accessed, on my behalf, occupational therapy, physio and additional surgery to try and get me back to somewhere near being able to function. I am extremely grateful for all the support they provided and reassurance at some really difficult times. I would be happy to recommend Motorcycle Law to my fellow bikers but hope they are never unfortunate enough to need them."