Former Mechanic Wins Court Battle For Rehabilitation and Care

Specialist Brain Injury Lawyers At Irwin Mitchell Working With Him To Provide Vital Support

22.05.2013

By Dave Grimshaw

A former mechanic who suffered severe brain injuries and a fractured neck when he hit an ambulance parked too close to the track at a motorbike race day has won a court battle which means he will now be able to access vital support and rehabilitation.

Peter Corbett, from Pogmoor, Barnsley, was unconscious for three months following the crash and needs daily assistance for life because of his injuries. He and his wife Anita, who gave up work to care for him, contacted specialist brain injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help secure the six-figure funds needed to enable Peter to access appropriate care and rehabilitation.

The 54-year-old was taking part in a motor bike and sidecar race event at a track at Rowrah Go-Karting Circuit in Cumbria on 29 April 2006.  Peter was riding a motorcycle which left the track at a bend and hit an ambulance which a Judge ruled was parked too close to the corner and was unsafe. 

Peter suffered an extremely severe brain injury and fractured neck as well as chest and internal injuries and, despite being rushed to Newcastle General Infirmary’s Intensive Care Unit, was unconscious for three months before coming round. 

Following several months in Barnsley District General Hospital, Peter was transferred to the specialist Keresforth Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit in Barnsley in July, where he underwent a rigorous programme of occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech and language therapy before finally being allowed home in October  – almost six months on from the accident.

Mr Justice King, sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, has now ruled that the owners of the race track, Cumbria Kart Racing Club, and Tracksport Challenge Limited, who were running the race day, should have taken greater precautions to protect riders.

Irwin Mitchell argued that the ambulance was parked in a dangerous place too close to the track and was a hazard to any riders losing control at the corner. The Judge agreed that there was no good reason for the ambulance to be there and found that the Defendants’ approach to assessing the risks posed to competitors by having the ambulance on the field was “casual, haphazard, disorganised and uncertain”.

Following today’s decision, expert lawyers at the firm say they will now work with Peter to secure the appropriate care and rehabilitation he needs but expressed concern that the long battle to secure a favourable judgment in the face of opposition from the Defendants left Peter with a six year wait for further specialist treatment.

Kate Petchey, a brain injury specialist at Irwin Mitchell representing him, said: “Peter and his wife have shown tremendous bravery and courage in the years since the accident.

“The decision today means that we will now be able to work with Peter to help him get the specialist support and rehabilitation treatment he needs to improve his life and to gain as much independence as possible.

“The case was strenuously denied from the beginning which forced Peter and his family to endure 16 days of trial, further delaying Peter from receiving the expert help he needs. People with serious brain injuries need to have access to specialist treatment and care as soon as possible to help them recover as best as they can.”

Peter, a mechanic for more than 20 years, ran his own business fixing commercial vehicles before the crash.

His wife Anita stopped work in order to care for him 24 hours a day, as he needed help with all aspects of his daily life, including dressing, washing, getting into and out of bed, making his meals, and simply getting around his own house. 

Almost six years on from the accident which changed his life forever, Peter can still only move slowly and struggles with his balance, having to hold onto furniture and other objects to help him move around the house which means he often falls and needs supervision.

Anita said: “We have been through an awful lot over the past six years and our lives have changed beyond recognition.

“Peter had been racing in the motorbike and sidecar for years and they had never had any problems before. I though the worst when the accident first happened and especially when he was in hospital for so long. But thankfully he came round and has come such a long way with his movement as well as his speech and memory.

“We are just so relieved that this part of the case is over and that we will now be able get some support for Peter.”

The defendants indicated in court that they would seek permission to appeal.

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in Brain Injury claims.