Train guard has car crash damages slashed by top judges
7:00am Friday 28th March 2014 in News
A TRAIN guard who was awarded more than £100,000 damages after his £8,000 Mercedes was written off in a road shunt has had his payout cut down to size by top judges.
Sameer Umerji's car was damaged beyond repair in October 2010 and he said he could not afford to buy a replacement until the other driver's insurers — Zurich Insurance PLC — paid up.
While he waited, he went to credit hire company, Elite Rentals (Bolton) Limited, and rented a car at a cost of £161-per-day.
Over a period of almost two years, until June 2012, he built up car rental charges totalling a staggering £95,130.
Appeal Court judge, Lord Justice Underhill, said: "That was a remarkable sum given the value of the damaged car.”
But, in June last year at Manchester County Court, a judge awarded Mr Umerji damages totalling £101,559.
The vast majority of that reflected the car hire charges, plus the £3,420 cost of recovering and storing his wrecked Mercedes for over four months.
Zurich challenged the award and now Appeal Court judges have slashed Mr Umerji's payout.
Lord Justice Underhill, sitting with Lord Justice Moses and Sir Robin Jacob said that, during the tortuous procedural history of the case, Mr Umerji had been 'debarred from pleading impecuniosity' in support of his claim.
That meant he was prevented from asserting that he could not afford to buy a replacement vehicle.
The judge said Mr Umerji had been entitled to hire a car until Zurich had inspected the Mercedes and sanctioned its disposal for scrap.
He could thus reasonably recover the hire charges for about six months, until March 8, 2011, but not beyond that date, the court ruled.
The judges left lawyers on either side to do the maths, but their ruling means Mr Umerji's payout will be cut by at least two-thirds.