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Musician Back At College After Hit and Run Crash

Lawyers Warn Of Consequences of Driving Under the Influence of Drink and Drugs


By Dave Grimshaw

Expert injury lawyers helping a York man severely injured in a hit-and-run car crash to get his life back on track are warning drivers of the consequences of driving under the influence of drink and drugs.

Lee Johnstone, 34, was crossing the A58 in the centre of Leeds during the early hours of 11 October 2008 when he was struck by a car which then fled the scene without reporting the accident, leaving him for dead.

He was spotted lying injured in the road by a passenger in a taxi called the emergency services to rush Lee to hospital. He suffered from serious injuries including a head injury, severe cuts to his face, fractures to his spine, ankle and arm, a dislocated hip, nerve damage to his right eye and bruising of the lungs.

Specialist serious injury experts at Irwin Mitchell have now secured an undisclosed settlement for Lee and helped him access vital rehabilitation services to regain the movement in his hand so that he can go back to college and continue to pursue his dream of becoming a music producer.

The Defendant driver, who was later found and prosecuted, was under the influence of drink and drugs and had abandoned his car, ripping out the ignition wires to make it look as if it had been stolen. 

Lee was in a coma for weeks and was in hospital for months but once discharged Irwin Mitchell’s specialist client liaison managers helped him access physiotherapy and care from social services, before arranging an interim payment from the defendants to cover private rehabilitation for his severe hand injury and treatment to help him come to terms with his injuries. The law firm also introduced him to brain injury charity Headway in York.

Joanne Ewart, a specialist serious injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office representing Lee, said: “Since this terrible hit and run incident Lee has made a remarkable recovery and it is testament to the rehabilitation he has received that he is now looking to get his life back on track.

“He is an inspiration to other people seriously injured in road accidents. He is following his dream of going to college to get into music production and engineering and is also looking to buy a flat. The settlement we secured has given him the security to be able to achieve this while he continues his recovery from injury.

“Drivers need to take responsibility for their actions and driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs can have devastating consequences for others as well as themselves. Lee is fortunate that we have been able to help him to access the necessary rehabilitation to help him regain the most of the use of his hand which means he can now return to drumming in his band.”

At the time of the accident Lee was a finance assistant and remarkably returned to work just six months after suffering his horrific injuries. He gradually built up his level of tasks, eventually getting back to his normal role. He was also a keen drummer but initially struggled to get back to playing after the crash.

Although he will always suffer from memory problems and restricted movement in his wrist, he has recovered well both physically and psychologically. After a period of living with his parents because of his care needs, he now lives independently (with support) in York and is looking forward to moving on.

Lee said: “My life was just devastated by the crash at first. My arm was very badly injured and I couldn’t rotate it at all. I also had problems with my memory and struggled to get over the emotion of the whole situation.

“After about six months I was able to go back to work and improved much quicker once I started to get back into a routine. My employers were fantastic and helped me so much, but now I have the opportunity to go back to college and train to do something I really love in music production.

“This crash could have ruined my life but I’ve been determined to get back on my feet and I am very thankful to everyone that has helped me, especially my family who have supported me so much. Thanks to the settlement I can now live independently and go back to college knowing I have some security should I need support again in future.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in road traffic accident claims.