Belfast barista awarded £90k after being knocked off bike
A barista whose hopes of joining the police were shattered when she was knocked off her bike is entitled to £90,000 damages, a High Court judge ruled today.
Belfast woman Megan Thompson will also receive compensation for future loss of earnings due to the life-changing injuries sustained in the road accident.
The 28-year-old criminology graduate, who planned to begin a career in policing career after travelling abroad, was hit by a car in the city's East Bridge Street area in July 2013.
The collision occurred as she cycled to work at a coffee outlet in St George's Market.
She was thrown from her bike, striking the car's windshield and sustaining significant back trauma.
Ms Thompson developed arthritis and symptoms described as permanent and likely to deteriorate.
Seeking damages against the motorist involved in the accident, the court was told of the devastating impact on her outdoor lifestyle.
After obtaining a university degree in 2009 she combined her passion for travel with an interest in the coffee industry.
Trips to Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia were paid for by working in cafes, on farms, camp sites and cleaning jobs.
She visited and researched coffee production areas overseas, while also enjoying kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, snow climbing, surfing and sailing.
Although her intention was to join the police service, she was planning further travel before settling down.
Her intention was to backpack around northern Spain, the Basque country and the south France, the court heard.
But none of that ever materialised due to a collision which left her in agony and resulted in a diagnosis of prolonged depressive adjustment disorder.
Ms Thompson, who at first feared she mEast Bridge ay be paralysed, gave evidence that she had been "living the dream" before the accident.
Since then, however, she described letting go of the life created and being "stuck with this new one".
Medical opinion in the case confirmed she would now be unsuited to joining the police because of her physical condition.
Ruling on the case, Mr Justice Colton acknowledged that potential alternative careers in the prison service or as a social worker also appeared unlikely.
"Put simply, she cannot anticipate the circumstances in which she can return to full-time employment," he said.
The judge held that she was reliable, honest and credible, giving her evidence with "dignity".
He added: "I have come to the conclusion that the symptoms she has suffered arising from her accident have had a significant life-changing impact on her."
Mr Justice Colton awarded £65,000 damages for her back injury, £15,000 for psychiatric injuries, and a further £10,000 for loss of amenities associated with her hobbies and travel.
"Her injuries have had a devastating effect on this aspect of her lifestyle, and that she genuinely suffers a sense of loss in this regard."
Due to a liability agreement between the parties that amount is to be reduced by 20%.
Further legal discussions will resolve the loss of projected future earnings.
Belfast Telegraph Digital