Mr Bollito was aged 32 when he was injured in a road traffic accident on 15 July 2005.  He fell from a moving London bus and suffered a catastrophic brain injury.

Background

Mr Bollito and his family had moved from Italy to the UK just 18 months prior to the accident.  He is a married man and at the time his son was only  2 years old. 

The circumstances of the accident are that Mr Bollito boarded a London bus in the West End.  He was stood on the threshold of the doorway when the bus pulled away with the doors open.  As the bus moved forward the driver closed the doors, trapping Mr Bollito between them and subsequently causing him to lose his balance and fall backwards out of the bus hitting his head on the road.

Following the accident Mr Bollito was in a coma for 5 months.  He was the main breadwinner for his family and they were left with no income.  Mr Bollito's wife did not understand the English legal system or how she could obtain benefits to support herself and her son whilst her husband was in hospital.

There were several difficulties with the case from the outset.  Mr Bollito was in a coma and unable to give any details of the accident.  Even when he regained consciousness he was unable to remember anything about the accident.  The 3 witnesses with him at the time of the accident all returned to Italy shortly after the accident.  The driver of the bus said that Mr Bollito had deliberately jumped from the bus and he had an independent witness who agreed with him.  In addition despite the fact that this was a serious accident and one attended by the police the bus company destroyed the CCTV footage.

Mrs Bollito pursued this case for her husband and as the family had no income the case was run on a "no win no fee" basis and Russell-Cooke funded all of the expenses.

Medical Evidence

Mr Bollito was left with a catastrophic brain injury which affected his memory, intellect and vision.  He spent 20 months in hospital before being discharged home to the care of his wife.

He has significant long-term care needs and is unable to work.  His life expectancy is reduced by approximately 5 years.

At the time of the accident Mr Bollito was only 32 years old and employed as a designer in an innovative company, using recyclable materials.  His prospects at work were good.

Legal Proceedings

Based on the evidence received from the police and the witnesses, Russell-Cooke sent a letter to the Defendant alleging that it was responsible for the accident and for causing Mr Bollito's injuries.

The Defendant did not accept the claim and argued that Mr Bollito was the author of his own misfortunes by foolishly jumping from a moving bus.  

Legal proceedings were therefore issued at Court.

Mr Bollito's case was that the bus driver was stopped at a red traffic light when he and his friend approached and knocked on the doors requesting to be let on to the bus.  The driver opened the doors allowing Mr Bollito and his friend to board.  Mr Bollito asked the driver to wait for two more of his friends who were running to catch up.  However as the traffic lights had turned green the driver began to pull away.  He drove off with the doors still open and when he did press the button to close them he trapped Mr Bollito between the doors causing him to lose his balance and fall backwards off the step of the bus hitting his head on the road.

The Defendant's case was that Mr Bollito and his friend had forced their way onto his bus whilst it was slowly moving, by opening the doors from the outside using the emergency door open button.  The driver said that once on board the bus, Mr Bollito stood between the front doors deliberately blocking them and preventing them from closing.  The driver said he continued to drive the bus forwards at between 10 - 15 miles per hour with Mr Bollito lodged between the doors.  The driver stated that Mr Bollito then forced the doors apart and jumped off the bus, falling backwards and hitting the back of his head.  The driver then continued on his journey without stopping or summonsing medical assistance. He was later caught by the police.

The parties were locked in dispute over the facts.  The driver had a witness that supported him and Mr Bollito had 3 friends who were with him at the time of the accident that supported him.  The case therefore went to trial.

The Judge concluded that the bus driver had let Mr Bollito on to the bus by opening the doors and that he was then negligent in closing the bus doors in the knowledge that Mr Bollito was standing between them.  He also said that the driver was also negligent in driving off and picking up speed with a passenger trapped between his doors.  He found that the driver had failed to take into account the level of risk that he had created in performing these actions and that as a result of his actions Mr Bollito had become unbalanced and fallen from the moving vehicle.

Judgment was awarded 100% in Mr Bollito's favour.

The Defendant refused to accept this judgment and applied to take their case to the Court of Appeal.  They were unsuccessful and permission to appeal was refused.

Compensation

Due to the Defendant's failure to accept liability Mr Bollito's family had been forced to live on benefits for over 2 years and his wife had been unable to work due to the fact that she had to look after Mr Bollito.

Following the trial the Judge made the Defendant pay £200,000 to Mr Bollito to ease his financial hardship and to pay for the care that had been provided to him by his wife.

The parties could not agree on the value of the claim and the case was fixed for a second trial on 12 October 2009.  Following a "Round Table Meeting" between Russell-Cooke's representatives and those for the Defendant an amicable settlement was reached on 14 September 2009.  The settlement was split into 2 parts:

  • A lump sum payment of £1.3 million
  • Annual payments of £31,500 for life to cover the cost of care.

The Settlement

The figure of £1,300,000 was agreed and this can be roughly broken down as follows; 

General Damages                                      150,000
Interest on General Damages                         8,000

Past losses
Past loss of earnings                                   55,000
Past care                                                    54,879
Past nursery fees                                          8,645
Past travel costs                                           5,984
Miscellaneous expenses                               1,080
Interest on past losses                                13,200

Future losses
Loss of earnings                                        300,000
Case Manager                                           184,000
Contingency fund                                        78,750
Day centre care / Headway                        125,000
Future travel                                                56,500
Accommodation including adaptations        189,183
Aids and equipment                                      5,555
Court of Protection Costs                             22,500
Miscellaneous                                              1,700

The annual payment of £31,500 for life was index linked and was to cover the cost of care for the remainder of Mr Bollito's life.

Solicitors Observations

Shortly after they were instructed Russell-Cooke became aware that Mr Bollito's family faced an extremely long and hard fight against the Defendant in relation to establishing liability for this accident.  Due to the nature of Mr Bollito's injury and the fact that he was unable to work his family were suffering extreme financial hardship.

Russell-Cooke agreed to act for Mr Bollito under a "no win no fee" agreement and to bear the costs of the expenses of this case, including taking the case to the Court of Appeal, which allowed Mr Bollito to litigate this case.

This case was an extremely difficult case because Mr Bollito could not remember anything about the accident and there was no CCTV footage as it had been destroyed.  The whole case turned on the Judge's assessment of the witnesses at trial.