A Brisbane man who became wheelchair-bound after a car accident left him with severe brain injuries has been awarded a record $20.5 million in compensation.
Chrys Barker, aged 28, and his cousin, Bobby Hobbs, aged 20, were hit by a drunk driver in Caboolture near Brisbane in January 2014. Mr Hobbs was killed instantly in the collision while Mr Barker was flown by helicopter to a hospital. He suffered such serious brain damage that he can no longer speak and is in a wheelchair for life. While he can understand conversations, he can only communicate through eye movements.
The drunk driver was a former Navy man, Craig Edward Jones. At the time of the incident, the investigators estimated that Jones’ blood-alcohol reading was between 0.256 – 0.32%. He lost control of his vehicle and spun out into 3 cars. The people in the third vehicle suffered only minor injuries.
At the time of the incident, Jones was under a probationary driver’s license which required him to have an ‘alcohol ignition interlock’ fitted which would prevent the car from starting unless he had a zero blood alcohol reading. This device was not fitted at the time of the incident. Jones had 3 previous drink driving convictions. He was disqualified from driving for life and was sentenced to 8 years in prison in 2015.
A third-party personal injury insurer accepted full liability. The insurer originally suggested that Mr Barker should live in a care home for the rest of his life, which would cost $3 million. However, a neurosurgeon recommended that he would have a better chance at rehabilitation if he was cared for at home. Mr Barker’s family wished to bring him home, and the insurance company agreed to pay for the adaptations needed to move Mr Barker to the family home in Donnybrook.
The $20.5 million compensation figure, however, has taken 4 years to be settled upon as Chrys’ health needed to stabilise before the figure could be agreed upon. Queensland Supreme Court sanctioned the compensation earlier this year.
An independent trustee company will invest and manage the compensation to ensure Chrys has the care he needs for the rest of his life. The money received from the pay-out will be used to pay for Mr Barker’s rehabilitation, increased insurance, care costs, and home modification costs.
Mr Barker’s mother, Betty Barker, said: ‘To know that the funds are there now for Chrys to be looked after for the rest of his life… it’s just a relief.’
‘Every doorway had to be widened for a wheelchair. Chrys is a big strong boy, he’s in a good-sized wheelchair, and most average doorways are too small for Chrys.’
The insurance company’s head of communications, Paul Turner, said: ‘It has really set the boundaries for future settlements of this size, and a lot of that is based on Chrys’ age and the severity of his injuries. This was a really complex case medically, and we had to ensure that Chrys was covered for life and we got the best cover possible.’
If you have would like to discuss a similar accident or have been affected by this story, then it is in your best interest to get in contact with us at The Compensation Experts where we can discuss your legal issue and help you to make a claim.