Garage found negligent after faulty car caused motorway accident

10 June 2022

Our elderly client suffered PTSD after the bonnet of his car unexpectedly flew open on the motorway.

Client situation

Our client was 88 years of age when he was involved in an accident on the motorway. He was driving when his bonnet suddenly flew up, without warning, and hit the windscreen of his car.

Despite being in severe shock, he was able to safely pull the vehicle over to the side of the motorway and avoided colliding with any other vehicle or object.

Because of the severe shock he had suffered, our client was admitted to hospital later that day for treatment of heart block. In time it transpired that the heart condition was unrelated to the accident, but our client experienced a severe psychiatric reaction to the accident and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Before the accident, the client had recently had his vehicle serviced at a nearby garage. We alleged that a faulty catch caused the accident and that the garage had failed to notify our client about the faulty catch or fix it.

How we helped

The client contacted Co-op Legal Services and our personal injury solicitors assessed his claim. The claim was picked up by Senior Personal Injury Solicitor, James Wormell.

The question of liability for the incident and the cause of the client’s injuries centred around why the bonnet opened suddenly on the motorway. We carried out investigations into this, with the support of an expert in forensic engineering, who noted that one of the two bonnet catches had seized up and failed.

James brought a negligence claim on the client’s behalf against the garage, for failing to have fixed or advised the client about the faulty bonnet catch.

This case was a particularly challenging one to prove, because the client’s vehicle had been sold on by the salvage company by the time Co-op Legal Services was instructed. Also, since the vehicle had been serviced by the garage, our client had driven it a reasonable distance on smaller roads before the catch finally released on the motorway.

To support the claim, our personal injury team gathered the following evidence:

  • a statement from the mechanic that salvaged the vehicle
  • a statement from our client
  • expert engineering evidence from a specialist in the field

The outcome

Despite the challenges this case presented with the gathering of evidence, our personal injury solicitors were able to recover a substantial sum of damages from the garage, for our client.

The agreed settlement covered the cost of a significant programme of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which had already proven helpful in reducing the client’s psychological symptoms. The insurer of our client’s vehicle was also able recover the losses they had incurred through the insurance claim following the incident.

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