Schoolgirl awarded record €29m after being paralysed in car crash
Published 19/11/2012 | 14:02
A teenager who was paralysed in a car crash which killed her mother is to receive record compensation worth £23m (€29m).
Schoolgirl Agnes Collier, now 17, was left with no use of her legs and little function in her arms after the March 2009 accident on the A436 in Gloucestershire.
Her 48-year-old mother Karen Hood, a teacher, died and Agnes's older brother Rufus suffered a serious head injury, from which he has made a good recovery.
Agnes's father, investment banker Dominic Collier, and stepmother Jannene, were at London's High Court today for the approval of a damages award against the insurers of motorist Anthony Norton, who caused the accident when he pulled out of a side road, causing Ms Hood to be hit by an oncoming lorry.
In November 2009, Norton, of Andoversford, Gloucestershire, pleaded guilty to causing death by driving without due care and attention and was sentenced to six months' jail suspended for a year, banned from driving for 18 months and ordered to do 300 hours' unpaid community work.
Agnes's counsel, William Norris QC, told Mr Justice MacDuff that she was a "truly remarkable young lady" and a very bright girl who had done astonishingly well in returning to school and taking her AS-levels.
The burden of overwhelming tiredness and the need to use a scribe had affected her exam results to some extent and she was unlikely to achieve the university place she had hoped for, but she already had one offer and was set on a career.
"Her determination is extraordinary, but she has been blessed with a family who are thoroughly supportive, and her stepmother has been a tower of strength," Mr Norris said.
Ben Browne, QC for the insurers, said it was a tragedy for the entire family, of Naunton, near Cheltenham, starting with the grievous blow of the loss of a devoted wife and mother.
He said: "On top of that, they had to contend with the injuries to Agnes, which were at the very highest level of severity.
"It is difficult to imagine how the family was going to cope with those terrible blows coming together, but it is enormously to their credit that they have coped and managed to give Agnes a quality of life which would have been really unimaginable in the early days following this tragedy.
"Mr Cooper and his new wife have succeeded in rebuilding a family which was so shattered."
After the hearing, the family's solicitor, Paul Paxton, of Stewarts Law, said the award would be worth £23m over Agnes's lifetime.
Composed of a £7.25m lump sum plus annual payments of £270,000, it is believed to be the highest ever for personal injury, topping the previous record of £12.2m.
He added: "While it is a lot of money, Agnes's needs are great and she needs those for the rest of her life.
"The family want to be able to move on with their lives now this chapter has closed."