Woman Seriously Injured In Car Crash Says Sentences Must Be A Deterrent To Improve Road Safety

Expert Lawyers Help Nicola Get Back On Her Feet After Accident

01.11.2012

A woman seriously injured in a road traffic accident says punishments for careless drivers must act as a deterrent after the motorist responsible for turning her life upside down was fined £200 by magistrates in Gateshead.

Senior Finance Officer, Nicola Barratt, from Bensham in Gateshead, was hit by a car while walking home from work when a driver mounted the pavement, knocking her five feet into the air on Queensway in the Team Valley area of Newcastle on 6 August 2012.

The 31-year-old suffered a head injury, fractures to both ankles, broken ribs, a torn liver, extensive bruising and cuts across her shoulders, elbows and back and spent four days being treated by a team of specialists at the Royal Victoria Hospital.

Nicola still suffers frightening flashbacks and some memory loss but specialist serious injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell representing her have helped her to get access to vital physiotherapy and counselling. She is now able to get out and about without her crutches for the first time since the summer.

But despite the progress in her recovery, she says she is disappointed with the sentence considering the effect the accident has had on her life.

Jamie Malcolm, of Skidaw Place in Gateshead, admitted driving carelessly on the day of the accident when he appeared at Gateshead Magistrates Court last week. He was fined £200 and had five points added to his licence.

Nicola said: “I think everyone takes for granted that they will get home from work safely but my case shows the devastating consequences road accidents can have on people’s lives.

“I was just walking home on the pavement when the car came out of nowhere and hit me on the right hand side sending me flying five feet into the air. He then hit a tree and a metal bench along the roadside and luckily I landed in some bushes, which broke my fall a little, but I’ve still had to come to terms with really painful and debilitating injuries.

“The serious injury team at Irwin Mitchell have helped me get early access to a case manager and physiotherapy, which has really helped speed up my recovery. I was over the moon to finally get rid of my crutches last week after hobbling about for two months.

“I feel like I’ve missed out on so much and although I’m feeling more positive and determined to get better, I’m still not fit enough to enjoy life as I did before. I still need support with day to day jobs around the house from my family and partner.

“That’s why I’m so disappointed at the verdict at court last week. The driver admitted driving carelessly and causing this horrific accident but I believe a £200 fine and five points is just too lenient a punishment for someone who hurt me so badly.

“I hope that my case raises awareness of how important road safety is – a moment of carelessness can have dramatic consequences for other drivers or pedestrians like me. I don’t think the sentence was enough of a deterrent for other drivers to really sit up and take notice.”

Lindsey Houghton, a serious injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office representing Nicola, says many of the firm’s clients often say sentences for careless driving can seem small compared to the injuries they have suffered.

Lindsay said: “A number of clients have raised the issue of sentences they feel are too light considering the impact the collision often has on their lives.

“It can be distressing for victims of serious injury like Nicola who want to ensure valuable lessons have been learnt.

“With Road Safety Week coming also up later this month on November 19, Nicola’s case is a stark reminder for every motorist that they need to take more care on the roads. Our focus now will be on securing Nicola a full package of care and rehabilitation to help her complete her recovery.”