A young man who was left paralysed after being in a serious car accident is to receive a substantial amount in personal injury compensation.
Joe Heaton, 21, suffered severe spinal injuries when he was travelling in a car being driven by Jakob Benjamin Powell on the A30 near Bradford Abbas, Dorset three years ago.
The driver lost control of the vehicle and it ended up crashing the car into a tree. Mr Powell and Mr Heaton both survived the accident, but the passenger was left with significant spinal injuries. As a result, he has been paralysed for life and is forced to use a wheelchair in order to get around.
Mr Heaton opted to take legal action to secure car accident compensation, so he could cover the cost of ensuring his long-term care needs are met, the Western Gazette reports.
A compensation settlement has now been agreed, which will see Mr Heaton awarded a lump sum up front payment. This will be followed up by index-linked and tax-free compensation payments, which are to be paid out every year for the rest of his life. The size of these annual compensation payments could increase if Mr Heaton's condition deteriorates at any point in the future.
The actual amount that is being awarded in compensation has not been disclosed, but the complete compensation package is expected to be worth several million pounds, given the severity of his injuries and the extent of the care needs that must be met.
Mr Powell, meanwhile, has already admitted to driving without due care and attention. He was prosecuted three years ago and a Court issues a one-year driving ban, plus a fine of £125.
In addition, Mr Powell was ordered to pay a £15 victim surcharge and £35 in prosecution costs.
Speaking after the prosecution for the driving offences, Mr Heaton's father Richard acknowledged that the consequences of the accident have been tragic for both families.
He accepted that Mr Powell, who had only passed his driving test a month before the crash occurred, was "extremely sorry and upset" and said he feels for him and his family. "The ripples from this accident are far-reaching," he stated.
While the driver had not actually been breaking the speed limit when the accident occurred, it was decided that he had still been driving too fast in light of the conditions at the time.
A compensation package that involves both an upfront sum and annual payouts has been decided upon because Mr Heaton's life expectancy has not been affected by the accident. Furthermore, his brain was not affected and therefore his mental capabilities remain unchanged.
Commenting on the settlement, Mr Justice Bean said, "An order for periodical payments is appropriate, there is no doubt."
According to statistics from road safety charity Brake, one in five new drivers are involved in a crash within six months of passing their driving test.
Young male drivers were said to be much more likely to crash than their female counterparts, particularly when they are driving between the hours of 02:00 and 05:00.
By Francesca Witney