A blind athlete who suffered catastrophic injuries when he fell out of a window whilst staying with friends during the Henley Regatta has won the right to £2 million in compensation to pay for the lifetime of care and support he will need.
The athlete, who had won Commonwealth Games medals as a rower, was staying at a house owned by a couple who were close friends of his when he fell 25 feet onto their patio from the window of his upstairs bedroom. He suffered brain and spinal injuries which rendered him paralysed from the waist down.
In upholding his claim against the couple, the Court found that they had breached the duty that they owed him as occupiers of the property. The window, which had been left open because it was a warm day, constituted a trap which posed a foreseeable risk of injury to their disabled guest.
The Court found that the athlete, who had no memory of the accident, fell through the window when disorientated soon after waking up. Theories that he had been sleepwalking or had overbalanced when leaning on the window sill were rejected and the Court found that he bore no responsibility for his own misfortune.
The athlete had agreed to limit the value of his claim to the £2 million limit of the indemnity provided by the couple’s household insurance. That sum was only a fraction of the damages which he would otherwise have received – but his decision meant that none of his payout would come out of the couple’s pockets.