A blind athlete and adventurer who fell out of a window during the Henley Regatta, suffering catastrophic spinal injuries, has won the right to £2 million in compensation.
The Commonwealth Games medal winner, who was the first blind man to trek to the South Pole, was staying with a couple in Henley. He was disorientated with sleep when he fell 25 feet out of his bedroom window onto a patio below. He was left permanently paralysed and confined to a wheelchair.
In upholding his claim against the couple, a judge found that his bedroom window had been left open, creating a foreseeable risk of injury. The couple had failed to discharge the duty of care that they owed him as occupiers of the property.
In challenging that decision before the Court of Appeal, the couple's lawyers argued that the man was a resourceful individual who had stayed in the same room before. The couple were ordinary domestic occupiers and would not have realised that an open window on a warm day would cause a particular danger to anyone.
In refusing permission to appeal, however, the Court noted that assessment of the witnesses was essentially a role for the trial judge. His ruling that the accident was foreseeable was open to him on the evidence. The victim had limited his claim against the couple, who were close friends of his, to the £2 million maximum limit of their household insurance policy.