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Crash victim's payout hopes revived

PUBLISHED: 12:19 22 December 2008 | UPDATED: 21:22 07 July 2010

A road crash victim who had his compensation bid blocked - because a legal document was served just one day too late - has had his hopes of a substantial payout restored by top judges.

A road crash victim who had his compensation bid blocked - because a legal document was served just one day too late - has had his hopes of a substantial payout restored by top judges.

Stephen Cain, 47, from Feltwell, suffered dreadful orthopaedic injuries when his motorbike collided head-on with a car that pulled out into his path in August 2004.

Despite much gruelling reconstructive surgery, he remains badly disabled by his injuries and has never been able to return to work, London's Civil Appeal Court heard

He looked certain to win six-figure compensation when motor insurers for the other driver involved in the smash admitted full liability, said his barrister, Richard Methuen QC.

But that was before a solicitor's "simple oversight" led to Mr Cain's claim form - the document that launches any compensation case - being served a day after the expiry of the three-year time limit that applies to personal injury claims.

Then, in November last year, Mr Cain suffered every litigant's worst nightmare when a county court judge refused to waive the "limitation period" and dismissed his damages claim.

By that time, Mr Cain had received interim damages payments from the insurers, to pay for the rehabilitation and care he needed. But the court heard that, with his claim formally dismissed, the other party's insurers had sought repayment of almost £90,000 from Mr Cain.

However, three top judges ruled that the county court had got it wrong and it was "fair and just" that the strict time limit should be waived in his case.

Lady Justice Smith, sitting with Sir Andrew Morritt and Lord Justice Maurice Kay, opened the way for Mr Cain to take his case to a full hearing, at which his damages payout will be finally assessed.

The judges also lifted the spectre of him having to repay any of the interim payments he has so far received and ordered that he now be paid another £41,000 to cover his continuing rehabilitation costs up until the hearing of his case.

Mr Cain said he was pleased at the result.

“We haven't got to go through the hassle of going through it all again,” he said. If the appeal had not been given he would have had to find a new solicitor to take the case on.

He has recently had another operation, this time on his foot to try and straighten it out. He may be able to walk on it again but never without a limp because it was so badly damaged.

Mr Cain, who has recently had another operation on his foot, had said he would just like to get his old life back.

Earlier this year his wife Movita said the situation was furious at the solicitor's mistake.


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