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Lionel Stride (instructed by Rebecca Smith at Stewarts and closely assisted by James Arney KC in preparation for the mediation) represented the passenger (a qualified pilot) in a High Court claim arising out of a light aircraft accident, allegedly caused by the negligence of the pilot in command. The pilot undertook an orbit rather than a go-around at too low an altitude and speed, causing the aircraft to stall and crash. The Claimant, a successful businessman, suffered a spinal cord injury and is now a paraplegic. His claim included lifelong care, accommodation, a range of mobility scooters and wheelchairs, together with walking aids, and a significant claim for loss of profit and the capital value of his business (which he had to sell at an undervalue as part of a management buyout due to the need to take early retirement).
The Defendant’s insurers denied liability, contending that the manoeuvre was not negligent and the pilot acted reasonably to avoid conflict with another aircraft; that the Claimant was equally culpable because he was effectively operating as a co-pilot or functioning member of the crew, assisting the pilot with any observations; and/or that he had consented to the risk of injury and/or the manoeuvre performed. Quantum was also fiercely disputed, despite the severity of the injury, with focused challenge to the claim for loss of profit and capital value. The claim settled at circa £4 million (i.e., at or close to the indemnity limit on the insurance policy), the Claimant electing not to pursue the pilot for any additional sum.
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