Heavily Intoxicated Pedestrian Succeeds In Motor Accident Claim

On a Friday evening, Mr S attended a Leagues Club in Western Sydney after work to celebrate his university exam results. A night of heavy drinking ensued with his circle of friends.

At approximately 1.30am the next morning, Mr S left the Club alone in a highly intoxicated state. Having walked some distance from the Club and upon attempting to cross Jones St, Mr S was struck by a vehicle driven by Mr K. The accident occurred at approximately 2.03am.

Mr S sustained a closed head injury and numerous orthopaedic injuries. However, after a period of convalescence, he managed to return to full-time work in his pre-injury employment.

At approximately 2.45am Police extracted a blood sample from Mr S at the hospital. His blood alcohol level was found to be 0.266g/100ml, over 5 times the legal limit.

Satisfied that he didn’t have a case due to his intoxication, Mr S decided to consult with Parramatta City Legal to ensure that he was not foregoing any entitlements. We advised Mr S that whilst his prospects of success were not guaranteed, we would carry on his matter on a No Win No Fee basis.

A claim was commenced against the owner of the Leagues Club for the irresponsible service of alcohol and the driver of the motor vehicle that struck him.

A real problem in the case was that our client had no recollection of the incident and could not give any evidence as to the circumstances leading up to the collision. To address this, we engaged our Consultant Engineer to provide an accident reconstruction report and also obtained evidence from the Department of Meteorology to confirm that foggy conditions existed at the time of the accident.

Mr S was also concerned that the value of his claim would be modest given that he returned to full-time work anyway. However, we argued that his closed head injury blunted his motivational drive and hindered his career advancement. A claim for future wage loss was successfully prosecuted on that basis. Mr S was supported by the medical evidence we obtained from an Orthopaedic Surgeon, Neuro-Psychologist, Forensic Psychiatrist, Radiologists, Occupational Physician and Specialist in Rehabilitation Medicine.

With our experience in such claims, we appreciated that some claimants with closed head injuries actually downplay their disabilities. After some further questioning, we established that Mr S had sustained a loss of sense of smell. We referred him to our Ear Nose & Throat Specialist and obtained further supportive evidence as to his loss of smell. This bolstered Mr S’s claim for pain and suffering (general damages).

A further obstacle arose when, half way through the case, a landmark decision was delivered in the High Court of Australia. The case changed the law and provided that no duty of care was owed by hotels and clubs to highly intoxicated patrons. After careful consideration, we strategically discontinued the claim against the Leagues Club without penalty and continued with the claim against the driver of the motor vehicle.

After numerous Court appearances and despite the difficulties, Mr S was awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages plus legal costs. The outcome demonstrates Parramatta City Legal’s dedication to its clients, ability to think outside the square and overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges in all cases.