Rebecca Smith wins police crash compensation appeal

A Nottingham woman who suffered brain damage when she was hit by a police car has won her appeal for compensation.

Rebecca Ann Smith, now 23, was struck by the car as she crossed Canal Street during a night out in February 2005.

She challenged a hearing at Nottingham County Court in January which found she was 75% responsible for what happened.

Now judges at London's Court of Appeal have ruled the police driver was two-thirds to blame, paving the way for Ms Smith to be awarded in excess of £1m.

Her legal team had argued the county court judge was wrong to find she was mostly responsible for the accident.

Thursday's Appeal Court ruling means Ms Smith's payout against Nottinghamshire Police will now be assessed on the basis of two-thirds liability.

Clean record

The court heard she was hit by a fast-moving police car driven by a PC, who was on his way to an emergency outside the MFI store on Castle Boulevard with a colleague on 25 February 2005.

Ms Smith was flung on to the car's bonnet and ended up deeply unconscious on its roof, with massive head injuries, including a fractured skull.

Appeal Court judge, Lord Justice Ward, sitting with Lord Justice Lloyd and Lord Justice Kitchin, said: "She may be lucky to be alive but her life is forever blighted by the catastrophic injuries she suffered that night.

"The driver was negligent in travelling at a speed between 45-50 mph through the traffic light controlled junction with Carrington Street and into the section of Canal Street where the collision occurred.

"If he had travelled at 40mph the accident could have been avoided."

Also ruling the officer, an advanced police driver with a clean driving record, had failed to keep a proper look-out, Lord Justice Ward said: "My conclusion on the totality of the evidence is that he plainly should have seen her."

However, he also ruled ruled Ms Smith herself had to bear one-third responsibility, having also failed to see the police car and crossing the road when it was unsafe to do so.

A spokesperson for Nottinghamshire Police said: "We accept the ruling at the Court of Appeal and express deep sympathies to Rebecca Ann Smith and her family for the injuries sustained."

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