Brain damaged boy faces landmark test case over compensation

A brain damaged boy faces a landmark test case over a £500,000 compensation. A recent article in read:

A Lincolnshire youngster handed a £500,000 payout after he was chased under a car by a dog whilst riding his bike is facing a test case bid to strip him of his award.

The boy, who cannot be identified, was 14 when he swerved under a car as “a terrier type dog” began “barking and snapping at his heels” as he rode his bicycle close to his home in 2002.

He suffered serious brain damage which will forever blight his life.

The dog, which had got loose from a neighbour’s garden, had behaved aggressively to the boy previously, top judges were told.

The owner – who was not charged with any crime – had admitted that it was “aggressive to other people if it got out.”

The boy’s application for a payout was at first rejected by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) on the basis that he could not be viewed as a victim of a crime of violence.

However, that decision was later reversed by an appeal panel, which found that he was entitled to a full award for his injuries, having heard evidence from a police officer that “the dog was aggressive towards him and there was a history of it being aggressive.”

The boy’s payout was assessed in 2010 at £499,155.51, just short of the maximum award available of £500,000. In November 2012, the Upper Tribunal dismissed CICA’s challenge to the award.

Now, however, CICA is asking the Court of Appeal to find that decision was wrong and that there were no reasonable grounds on which the Tribunal could have ruled that the boy’s injuries were “directly attributable to a crime of violence.”

Ben Collins, for CICA, told Lord Justice Moore Bick, Lord Justice Tomlinson and Lord Justice McCombe that the appeal panel and the Tribunal had “fallen into the error of considering the consequences of an act rather than its nature” when approving the award to the youngster, who is now 26.

He said the finding that the boy had been the victim of a violent crime was “either an error of law or irrational”, adding that a payout for an injury caused by a dog ought only to be made if it were in conjunction with some deliberate act by the owner, such as setting the dog on a victim.

“The violence must be on the part of the owner, otherwise cases involving animals would be treated completely differently by the courts. One has to look at the human – anything other than the human is ancillary,” the barrister added.

Shilpa Shah, for the accident victim, disagreed and told the judges: “The elements of the offence were made out – the dog was found to be dangerously out of control in a public place.

“If somebody is put in reasonable apprehension that they will face injury, it will always result in a crime of violence,” she added.

Recognising the important implications of the case, the judges reserved their decision on CICA’s appeal until a later date. The court also made an order that the name and address of the victim must not be revealed in reports of the case.

If you would like further information about personal injury compensation please click here or call 0800 107 3000.

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