TR, a young student, sustained a life-changing spinal cord injury at the age of 19 when the car in which he was a front-seat passenger crashed at high speed.

Kimberley Owen, a senior associate in our Personal Injury department, had conduct of the claim and reviews the case here.


The case

TR was injured in a high-speed road traffic accident due to the defendant driver’s negligence. The accident caused TR to sustain devastating, life-changing injuries.

Immediately before the accident, TR and his friends (including the defendant driver) had consumed nitrous oxide (otherwise known as laughing gas).

A claim was brought on TR’s behalf against the defendant driver and the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) as it transpired the defendant had been driving without a valid insurance policy.

The defendants’ legal team did not formally admit liability during the course of the claim. The defendants also raised allegations of contributory negligence due to TR’s alleged failure to wear a seatbelt and allowing himself to be carried as a passenger in a vehicle where the driver was impaired by the consumption of nitrous oxide.


Injuries sustained and impact on TR’s life

At the time of the accident, TR, who is now in his early 20s, was a 19-year-old, physically active and healthy sixth-form student intending to study accountancy and finance at university. After university, his goal was to obtain employment in London in financial services. He enjoyed an active lifestyle, which included socialising and playing football with friends.

Tragically, the injuries sustained in the accident rendered TR paraplegic and means he will be wheelchair dependent for the rest of his life. He has also had a myriad of health issues since the accident, including skin breakdown/pressure sores, urinary and bowel incontinence and recurrent urinary tract infections, chronic spinal pain and left shoulder and neck pain, loss of function in his left shoulder/arm, lower limb neuromuscular weakness, instability and hyper-mobility, depression, trauma, anxiety and loss of confidence, fatigue, and difficulties with cognition, particularly concentration and memory.

The injuries have inevitably impacted every aspect of TR’s life, including his education and employment prospects, physical and mental health, future relationships and financial and functional independence. Sadly, TR has a marked reduction in his life expectancy.


Admission to hospital

Following the collision, TR was taken to hospital, where he received intense inpatient treatment and rehabilitation.

He remained in hospital for over six months, following which he was discharged back to his family home, where he lived with his parents.



TR and his family instructed Kimberley Owen of Stewarts shortly after he was injured.

Solicitors for the MIB funded the majority of the recommended rehabilitation through the Rehabilitation Code of Conduct to enable TR to fund most of his care and support, accommodation, equipment and transport needs. This enabled him to benefit from a specialist jointly instructed spinal injury case manager, support workers and therapies, including physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, counselling and podiatry.


Experts and settlement

To enable the assessment of TR’s prognosis and long-term needs, both parties obtained expert evidence from a range of experts.

Given the extensive range of TR’s injuries, Stewarts instructed 13 quantum experts in the fields of spinal rehabilitation, orthopaedic spinal surgery, neurology, urology, pain management, upper limb orthopaedic surgery, psychiatry, bowel nursing, care, occupational therapy, accommodation, assistive technology and employment. A toxicologist provided evidence on the effects of and ability to test for nitrous oxide.

Stewarts instructed Stuart McKechnie KC and Jeremy Ford of Deka Chambers (on the issue of quantum) and David Sanderson of 12 King’s Bench Walk (on the issue of liability/contributory negligence).

The Motor Insurers Bureau made a seven-figure settlement offer in December 2022, which TR rejected on the advice of his legal team.

A settlement was subsequently achieved at a joint settlement meeting in November 2023 for an eight-figure lump sum (£4m higher than the defendant’s first offer) and provisional damages to guard against the risk that TR might, in the future, develop syringomyelia causing a deterioration in his neurological function. In addition, the MIB had paid TR’s rehabilitation and case management costs over the four and a half years since the accident.

TR is now looking forward to moving on with his life post-litigation. His immediate priorities are  buying and adapting a suitable property that meets his post-accident needs and getting a golden retriever.

He is secure in the knowledge that he has sufficient money to ensure that all his post-accident needs, including care and support, aids and equipment, accommodation and therapy, will be met for life.



TR said: “When I had my accident we were unsure of where to turn. We were dealing with my medical situation and were made aware that there was potential for an injury claim but had no idea how to progress this at the time. Meeting the team from Stewarts, we were instantly put at ease. Despite challenging circumstances in the case and also the timing of Covid-19, Kimberley always made time for us, made us feel like we were her only client and whenever we had a moment of panic, she was on hand to help ease our concerns and put us on the right path.

The team excelled at every opportunity and delivered an incredible final result for us that we could never have imagined. Without the support, guidance and help of Stewarts we wouldn’t be in the position we are today and we can’t express enough our gratitude to them for making sure I have the necessary care and support required for the rest of my life.”



You can find further information regarding our expertise, experience and team on our Personal Injury pages.

If you require assistance from our team, please contact us.



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