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Driver in ‘State of Automatism’ Caused Motorway Tragedy

Published: 23 December 2014, in categories: Personal Injury Updates | Legal Updates | News and Updates

Driver in ‘State of Automatism’ Caused Motorway Tragedy

A risk management expert who caused a motorway pile-up when he blacked out at the wheel was entirely to blame for the tragedy which wrecked a promising young student's life, the High Court has ruled.

In a highly unusual case, the motorist claimed that he was in a 'state of automatism' when he collided with the student’s car at high speed on a slip road. There was no dispute that he had fallen unconscious following a bout of 'gripping' abdominal pain in the moments before the crash.

His legal team argued that he could not be held responsible for the accident, in which the 19-year-old student suffered devastating injuries including permanent brain damage. However, in guaranteeing the teenager full compensation for his injuries, the Court found that the motorist had been speeding before the collision and was in any event unfit to drive.

He claimed that he had been suffering nothing more than flu-like symptoms and ‘slight indigestion’ before embarking on a 50-minute journey to his home. However, the Court found that his evidence was ‘unsatisfactory in a number of important and highly material respects’.

He was in pain before he decided to drive and should have realised that there was a risk of his condition worsening. Before he passed out he had also been ‘driving at high speed’ in the wrong lane. The amount of the student’s payout had yet to be finally assessed; however, given the severity of his injuries, it is likely to be a seven-figure sum.

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