Fatal accident claim settled for £125,000

15 Feb 2021 | Rob Aylott
water ripple

Fatal Accident case following the death of Mr D who drowned as a result of a boat collision in the English Channel.

Mr D was on a small fishing boat with his friend (the owner), and two others. They were night fishing with rods. A trawler owned and operated by the Defendants, struck their boat with a glancing blow and the wash of the trawler overwhelmed the back of the small fishing boat causing it to sink quickly.

The deceased and the others were not wearing life preservers and the boat was not properly fitted with a proper “freeboard” at the back, to stop the wash from sinking it. However, it did have the correct navigation lights but no proper lookout was being made. Three on board  tragically drowned and one survived.

The trawler was also not keeping a proper lookout – the Watch Keeper allowed himself to become distracted by using his mobile phone and working on a laptop computer. The Skipper of the trawler is being re-tried in 2021, for criminal offences of failing to keep watch. A jury in 2020 failed to reach a verdict.

A Marine Accident Investigation Branch report made recommendations aimed at improving standards of watch-keeping to the owners of the trawler.

There is a 2 year limitation period for accidents at sea and we instructed senior Admiralty Counsel to draft the Collision Statement of Case, and civil proceedings for compensation were issued against the trawler’s owners in the Admiralty Court. The claim was defended on liability by their insurers with no admissions being made as to any fault on the part of the owners of the trawler.

We could not sue the Estate of the owner of the small fishing boat as there was no insurance and potentially the Estate had no assets. The boat had been bought on EBay for £500. My client did not want to sue the family of her husband’s friend.

Just prior to the first procedural hearing the case settled for £125,000 with no agreed split on liability. The claim for damages was a claim for a bereavement award and dependency claims under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976.

Considerable work was undertaken to prove a financial dependency which included obtaining a non-party disclosure order, disclosure from banks used for international money transfers and contact with the Romanian pensions ministry.

Please contact Rob Aylott, or another member of the personal injury team if you have been involved in a life changing accident and would like some advice. Call 0207 485 8811 or complete an online enquiry form.

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