31 January, 2017
Evidence from paramedics and a 999 log led to the downfall of this claim for personal injury.
The claimant alleged that she sustained serious injuries whilst using a slipway to launch her boat with her husband. She claimed that the slipway ended abruptly and as a result she fell into the estuary below, fracturing her leg in two places.
At trial, the defendant raised concerns about the alleged mechanics of the accident. Contemporaneous medical evidence suggested that the claimant's injuries had resulted from an accident involving the boat and trailer, rather than as a result of falling off the end of the slipway.
The defendant relied on the 999 call log which was played in Court. In the recording the claimant's husband informed the operator that his wife had been injured when the boat or trailer had struck her foot.
In addition, the two attending paramedics gave compelling evidence at trial. In evidence, they re-counted that they had been informed by both the claimant and her husband that they had been trying to launch the boat, when it slipped off the trailer, knocking her into the water. At no time did the paramedics recall either the claimant or her husband making any reference to her having simply fallen off the end of the slipway. A transcript from the "talk through" with the hospital also confirmed "47 yof (year old female) hit by a fishing boat". The claimant and her husband both denied giving the version of events noted by the paramedics.
In her Judgment, HHJ Beech noted that the ambulance crew are trained to take a history. The Judge described the paramedics as reliable and truthful whose account undermined the claimant's version of events.
The claim was dismissed, with the Judge commenting that the claimant had failed to satisfy on the balance of probability that she had sustained the injury in the manner alleged.
Contemporaneous medical evidence supported by witness statements from medical staff can provide compelling and persuasive evidence. Whilst it is not always necessary to have medical staff attend trial, in this instance the evidence of the paramedics directly contradicted that of the claimant. The paramedics had no incentive to give anything other than a true and direct account of their recollection and their evidence ultimately led to the demise of this claim.