Barnsley teen injured in Smiler crash sues Alton Tower's owners

A BARNSLEY teenager who suffered life-changing injuries in the Smiler rollercoaster crash could be in line for a multi-million pound payout after her legal team sued Alton Tower's owners.

Leah Washington pictured in 2015 - Picture Scott Merrylees
Leah Washington pictured in 2015 - Picture Scott Merrylees

Leah Washington was 17 when she was in the front row of the rollercoaster when it crashed in June 2015. Her injuries were so severe medics amputated her left leg.

Now, along with fellow crash victims Vicky Balch, who also had a partial leg amputation following the crash, and Meera Chauhan and Vanisha Singh, she has served court proceedings against theme park owners Merlin Attractions Operations Limited for damages.

A spokeswoman for litigation firm Stewarts, which is representing the women, was unable to confirm to the Yorkshire Post the exact value of the claim, but said the final figure “could be well in excess” of the £2m reported by other media.

Both Ms Washington and Ms Balch have been undergoing rehabilitation for their injuries since the incident just over three years ago.

Ms Chauhan and Ms Singh have been dealing with the “ongoing psychological effect” on their lives, the law firm said.

Legal proceedings are being served as a matter of course to adhere to time limitations for personal injury cases.

Paul Paxton, who is representing the women, said: “Our clients suffered life-changing injuries as a result of the accident. Whilst money cannot make up for what they have endured over the past three years, financial security can at least help the victims to lead a full and active life.

“Regrettably, where such serious injuries are sustained, it can take many years before the extent of losses can be established.” 

Merlin admitted negligence and received a £5m fine from the Health and Safety Executive in September 2016.

A Merlin spokesperson said: “From the outset we have admitted liability and have engaged fully at all times to achieve settlement for all the claimants as quickly as possible. The claimants’ lawyer has confirmed to us that this is a purely procedural filing to preserve their clients’ rights in relation to the standard three year limitation period, and that certain claims are not yet ready for settlement due to their complex nature.

“Settlements rely upon the provision of certain information from the claimant to make a fair assessment and we have provided appropriate support including interim payments while the assessments continue. We are on standby to conclude settlement discussions on the outstanding claims as soon as they are ready.”