A motorcyclist who killed a schoolboy playing a game of "chicken" on a busy road made legal history when he won a claim for compensation for the injuries that he suffered in the accident.
Antony Young, 37, lodged his claim with the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, which usually pays money only to victims of violent crime.
His lawyer, Andrew Campbell, argued that the boy, Robert Davis, 12, was guilty of a violent act by deliberately running out into the road.
Mr Young suffered six broken ribs, a punctured lung, a bruised heart, a serious shoulder injury and continuing psychological trauma.
The amount of compensation will be decided once Mr Young’s medical reports have been submitted by independent experts and the long-term impact of his injuries has been assessed. The authority could now face other, similar claims.
Andrew Campbell, the lawyer who represented Mr Young, said: “This is a victory for justice, not only for Antony and his family, who have been through a terrible ordeal, but for others who may also have suffered physical or psychological trauma as a result of accidents which occurred through no fault of their own. This case is particularly tragic because a young boy died but it is important that recognition is also given to Antony’s suffering and the effect this accident has had, and continues to have, on his life.”
Mr Young was riding his Suzuki GSXR 1000 on the A4174 dual carriageway in Longwell Green, near Bristol, when the accident happened on April 8 last year.
A group of boys had gathered under a footbridge and dared each other to run across the road. Robert Davis started to run as a van approached but failed to spot that it was being overtaken by the motorcycle. Mr Young, a site engineer, was unable to avoid colliding with the boy, and the bike hit him full in the chest. He died three days later at Bristol Children’s Hospital.
Mr Young, who was travelling at less than 50mph in a 70mph zone, spent two weeks in hospital and was off work for three months. An inquest recorded a verdict of accidental death after witnesses described how the motorcyclist could not have done anything to avoid the collision. Brian Whitehouse, the coroner, was “completely satisfied that no blame whatsoever” could be attached to him.
Mr Young, from Chipping Sodbury, Gloucestershire, was told by 6 law firms he approached before speaking to Andrew Campbell, that he could not pursue a claim for compensation. But Mr Campbell argued that Robert was reckless in his actions, because he knowingly took a risk which left Mr Young injured. He successfully claimed that Robert’s actions amounted to violence, and that Mr Young could be compensated as a victim of a violent crime.
After hearing the landmark decision, he said: “I am happy and relieved. I feel that justice has been served not just for me but for other bikers and car drivers who find themselves in a similar position through no fault of their own.”
The authority receives about 65,000 applications for compensation each year and pays out nearly £200 million annually to victims of violent crime.
A spokesman for the authority said: “The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority always welcomes applications from victims of crime who are eligible for compensation. Mr Young was a victim of reckless behaviour on the part of the young boy and therefore entitled to a payment.”
This case was reported in all major national newspapers. It highlights the importance of seeking advice from an expert lawyer as opposed to the 6 firms Mr Young approached prior to instructing Andrew Campbell. Some lateral thinking and application of the law has led to compensation for this gentleman and for other biker victims of recklessness in the future.