Insurers fail in court attempt to cut £14m injury compensation

Have your say

A badly-injured former Commonwealth Games cyclist has seen off an attempt by insurers to reduce the record £14m compensation payment he was awarded following a car crash.

Manny Helmot, 41, received the pay-out after suffering brain damage when he was hit head-on by a vehicle while on a training ride in Guernsey in 1998, ending his career.

He now requires round-the-clock care and James Dingemans QC, for Mr Helmot, previously told a hearing of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London that he needed the money to pay for this.

Lawyers acting for the insurers appealed against the award, arguing that the payout should be reduced by £4.5m and an earlier award of £9.5m restored.

They contested the Guernsey Court of Appeal’s decision to include a prediction of future earnings inflation when calculating the lump sum payment.

Alistair Schaff QC, for the insurers, rejected the idea of predicting future inflation levels as “speculative” and “uncertain”.

He told the appeal hearing: “This is a tragic case involving a very serious road traffic accident and grievous injuries...

“It is no part of our case that the plaintiff is not entitled to full compensation for his injuries and the losses that result from that.

“Full compensation is not at issue in this appeal, what is at issue is how one goes about assessing full compensation.”

Lord Hope, Lady Hale, Lord Mance, Lord Clarke and Lord Dyson dismissed the appeal.

Lord Hope said in their written judgment: “(Mr Helmot) has many years ahead of him during which the constant care and attention that he needs will require to be paid for.”

And Lady Hale added that ignoring future inflation when awarding a lump sum was “not good enough” to provide full compensation.

She said that in the past, the assumed return on the capital sum awarded at today’s values would more than cater for the future. “Indeed, it would generate a profit, for which a discount had therefore to be made. That solution is clearly not good enough to provide full compensation these days.”

The crash that ended Mr Helmot’s cycling days happened in Guernsey in November 1998, when he was 28.

The sportsman, who had represented the Channel Islands in the Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games earlier that year, spent 36 weeks in hospital after being struck by the car driven by Dylan Simon. Mr Helmot was left with partial vision, the loss of the use of his right arm and a personality change. His life expectancy was also reduced by five years.

His mother, Rose Helmot, and her partner, Ken Jordan, became his full-time carers. They won just over £9m compensation in January 2010 but appealed, saying it was not enough to cover long-term care.