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Pearson v. British Midland Airways


Queen’s Bench Division

The plaintiff, a 39 year old male, was awarded £46,223.87 total damages for post-traumatic stress suffered as a result of aiding the immediate casualties of the Kegworth air disaster. Plaintiff: Male, 39 years old at date of accident. Aviation Accident: The plaintiff was driving along the M1 motorway at the time of the Kegworth air disaster. He immediately went to the aid of the victims of the accident, even before the emergency services had reached the site of the crashed British Midland Boeing 737. The plaintiff laboured for three-and-a-half hours before emerging from the  wreckage covered in both his own and other peoples' blood. He was later commended for his extraordinary bravery by the Royal Humane Society. Primary liability admitted. Injuries: The plaintiff suffered severe psychological injuries as a result of what he saw. A consultant psychiatrist and expert on accident trauma, diagnosed the plaintiff as showing "classic signs of post traumatic stress disorder,including disturbed sleep, intrusive memories, depression and a profound sense of guilt that he could have done more". Effects: As a result of the psychiatric damage sustained by the plaintiff, he went through long periods of unemployment after abandoning his career as a kitchen salesman. He was employed as a youth worker by Humberside County Council at the time of the trial. The plaintiff had shown improvement over the last two years due to intensive therapy. However, his therapist submitted that "he may never be the same man again". Court award: £46,223.87 total damages plus interest. Breakdown of general damages: Pain, suffering and loss of amenity: £17,000. Although the defendant admitted primary liability for the accident, it disputed the amount of compensation due to the plaintiff.

[1998] C.L.Y. 1530

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