Caister woman hit by Norwich driver awarded �9m payout
A Norfolk woman whose life was destroyed when she was hit by a car at seven years old has been awarded a compensation deal worth more than �9m - one of the highest injury payouts in British history.
Leigh Ann Blinkhorn, 23, suffered a brain injury leaving her in need of care for life after she was struck by a distracted driver on January 20 1996.
She was attempting to cross the road to see a family friend on the A1064 at Filby, near Great Yarmouth, when she was run down by Norwich motorist Stephen Hall.
Yesterday, father Colin Blinkhorn told of his relief at the deal, which will cover the enormous costs of her care for as long as she lives. But he said the money would not replace the desire to see his daughter as a normal adult again.
He said: 'Obviously we are pleased to see her financially secure for the rest of her life.
'But she won't be a normal adult again.
'It has been a constant struggle trying to receive the assistance we need for her.
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'She now has a certain amount of money which will pay her bills for the house or holiday expenses - whatever she needs.
'It will close a chapter for us, but we will never be independent of our daughter. We will always have to be there for her.'
He added: 'I think that justice has been done.'
The insurers of Mr Hall, of North Earlham, Norwich, were found fully liable to compensate Miss Blinkhorn as long ago as the year 2000.
But only at London's High Court yesterday did years of litigation culminate in a settlement guaranteeing her security and constant care.
Miss Blinkhorn's counsel, Mr John Foy QC, said that on top of a �2,875,000 lump sum, she will receive index-linked and tax-free payments of �191,758 every year to cover the costs of her care.
The family's lawyers say the total package is worth more than �9m, believed to be one of the highest ever awards in a road accident case.
Mr Justice Popplewell told parents, Colin and Joy, who live with their daughter in Caister, near Great Yarmouth: 'I have been struck by the tireless care and dedication Joy and Colin have given to Leigh over so many years.
'I hope that this settlement will bring a little enhancement to all their lives.'
Explaining the long delay in settling the case, the QC said Leigh's prognosis had changed over the years and she had spent periods in residential care.
Defence counsel, Winston Hunter QC, said: 'Cases are best resolved by agreement, rather than litigation. We are pleased this matter has been resolved and we offer Leigh and her parents our best wishes'.
Solicitor David Pett said: 'The award, one of the largest ever to be made, will provide our client with the financial security she clearly requires and indeed deserves.'
The highest personal injury payout was awarded to former Commonwealth games cyclist Manny Helmot who received �14m on appeal because of injuries he suffered when struck by a vehicle during a training exercise in Guernsey in 1998.