Some personal injury claims pose a much greater challenge than others but, even in the toughest cases, specialist lawyers can achieve life-changing results. That was certainly so in the case of a young man who suffered catastrophic injuries when he fell through a skylight on the flat roof of a pub.
Aged in his teens at the time, he was living in a flat above the pub where he worked. Intent on enjoying the sunshine, he and some friends used a fire escape to access the roof. He and one of his companions were sitting on the skylight when it gave way under their weight. He fell 10 metres, suffering grave head injuries. Currently cared for in a residential setting, he will always have difficulty in living independently.
After proceedings were launched on his behalf under the Occupiers Liability Act 1984, the pub's corporate owner firmly denied liability for the accident. It relied on expert engineering evidence indicating that there was nothing innately dangerous about the skylight. It asserted that the cause of the accident was the man's own negligence in deciding to sit on the skylight with his friend.
In support of the man's case, however, it was pointed out that there were no warning signs in place. A washing line on the roof indicated that it had previously been accessed by residents of the pub. Ultimately, a £250,000 settlement of the man's claim was negotiated. In approving that outcome, the High Court noted that, had the case been the subject of a contested trial, there would have been a real risk of it failing altogether.