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London, United Kingdom — The parents of twins whose carriage was hit by a car as they were being pushed across a pedestrian crossing have won the first round in their battle for compensation following a two-and-a-half year legal battle.
Six-month-old Alaura and Stephen McCulloch were swept from their mother’s grasp and knocked several feet through the air in the incident in Northampton’s Kettering Road in December 2009. Although Stephen miraculously escaped with only minor injuries, Alaura was left with very serious head injuries and now requires round-the clock care.
The driver was uninsured at the time of the incident and went on to lose his license, but continued to drive until he was subsequently imprisoned for driving offenses. His insurers – who had in fact issued a policy that the driver simply stopped paying for – denied liability for the incident for more than two years, but the day before the issue was due to be settled at trial they finally admitted liability, paving the way at last for Alaura to receive the specialist treatment and rehabilitation she needs.
“They dragged it on and on for more than two years but the insurers have finally accepted the driver was 95% liable for Alaura’s injuries,” said Gary Herbert, a personal injury claims specialist with Fentons Solicitors LLP, representing the family. “It’s disgraceful it has taken so long, even more so as the insurers also refused to fund her rehabilitation during that time and deprived Alaura access to the specialist care she so desperately needs.
“The driver – who collided with the children whilst undertaking a line of stationary traffic – had claimed all along that his line of sight was blocked by a van,” said Mr Herbert. “Even when we provided CCTV footage to show that there was no such van blocking his view, the defendant continued to maintain this false account right up until the eve of the trial.”
Lynette McCulloch, 35, had been pushing the twins across the Kettering Road crossing just before 11.30 on the morning of Thursday, 10 December 2009. “As I crossed the road, a red car went past and the carriage was taken from my hands,” she said. “All I could do is watch as the pram was knocked down the road and crashed into the back of a van. I ran to them and one of the people who had stopped came over to help me get the twins out, as they were both still strapped in.
“It’s every parent’s worst nightmare,” said Mrs McCulloch. “I’ll never forget that day for as long as I live. Doctors said Alaura suffered a double fracture to the skull and a severe brain injury from the impact, but nobody can tell us just how badly her brain has been damaged, or how well she’ll recover from the injuries.”
Alaura remained at Northampton General Hospital for two months following the incident. She spent 28 days in a medically-induced coma, she was suffering fits and breathing difficulties when doctors tried to remove sedation, and she had to undergo an operation to relieve swelling around the brain. Mrs McCulloch and her husband Tim, 34, who live in Gibbsacre Court, Bellenge, have spent the last two-and-a-half years making regular trips for tests and check-ups, as doctors monitor Alaura’s development and work to determine the full extent of her injuries.
“We’re delighted that this issue of liability has finally been resolved,” said Mrs McCulloch. “It has taken so long to get to this stage, but finally it looks as though we’ll be able to get Alaura the help she desperately needs.”
Following the liability victory, Mr. Herbert said he would now be putting in place a comprehensive package of care, treatment and rehabilitation to help Alaura and her family meet the challenges they, face now and in the future.
“The long-term prognosis for Alaura’s injury is still unknown,” he said. “But what we do know is that she is going to need a lot of help and support in the future. Now that the driver’s insurer has finally admitted liability, we have won the first round in the fight to secure justice for Alaura and the compensation which will help her in the coming years.”