Thames Valley Police in £600k Compensation Claim

At this time of the year, it is fairly common to hear of car accidents abroad that leave holidaymakers with serious injuries such as whiplash. Moreover, it is not unusual to read in the news about deaths that have been caused by negligent driving, whilst it is also common to learn of accidents that have resulted from driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. However, it is not every day that the police find themselves on the receiving end of a compensation claim following a road traffic accident. Indeed, it was reported on Wednesday this week that a motorcycle rider is seeking £600,000 in compensation following claims that he was injured by a pursuing police vehicle.

In the first instance, the claimant, Michael Henry, sought compensation from Thames Valley Police after his foot and ankle were allegedly crushed by a squad car. The facts of the case involved Michael Henry returning home from a friend’s birthday party in the early hours on his 1,100cc Honda Blackbird in August 2004. At this point in time, the 1,100cc Honda Blackbird was the world’s fastest production motorcycle, so needless to say that the bike was more than capable of opening up on the roads. In fact, Henry’s Honda was reported to have reached speeds of more than 100mph before a following police car decided to turn on the sirens and pull him over. However, Henry did not stop immediately – apparently because he was concerned that the police car was pursuing him too closely – and instead continued on his way before pulling into his garden, at which point he dismounted.

Unfortunately for the claimant, the Thames Valley Police car took close parking to an entirely new level by driving over Henry’s foot and ankle as he dismounted his motorcycle, which left him pinned to the ground. Indeed, it would appear that the Thames Valley Police officers placed the desire to get their man above his general safety, although in the first instance Judge Flather dismissed claims of negligence by stating that although the squad car had come “uncomfortably close” to Henry, the claimant could have avoided injury by dismounting on the driveway, which could be seen as a rather strange view in so much as the law does not usually deal with ‘what if’ scenarios. In any case, Judge Flather concluded that the officers had every right to pursue and arrest Mr Henry, whose injuries were a result of an “unfortunate error of judgment” by the defendants.

However, Michael Henry’s solicitors have pursued the case in the Court of Appeal, so there remains the possibility that he will be awarded the £600,000 compensation for injuries sustained following the police crash. Regardless as to the outcome, this case serves to highlight an important point involving personal injury claims. Specifically, it is essential that those who have suffered injuries from accidents that were not their fault are entitled to pursue claims for compensation regardless of who the defendant might be (although there are rare exceptions). Indeed, in as much as the victim of a car accident abroad may feel disinclined to chase a claim against a foreign national, some people are also reluctant to pursue compensation from police officers. However, it is worth remembering that all victims of negligence are covered under the law, so entitlement to claim is a right. Ultimately, nobody is above the law.

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