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Woman whose leg was amputated after she was struck by lorry on Cambridge’s Midsummer Common in line for compensation

A woman who had to have her leg amputated after she was run down by a lorry on Cambridge’s Midsummer Common is in line for major compensation following a High Court ruling.

Joanne Jagger suffered terrible injuries on November 4, 2015, when the articulated lorry hit her during preparations for the fair at the annual bonfire night event.

A fairground ride on Cambridge’s Midsummer Common.
A fairground ride on Cambridge’s Midsummer Common.

The lorry was being by driven by fairground worker Austin Holland and was carrying a load of dodgems when it collided with Ms Jagger, London's High Court heard.

Ms Jagger, who was 50 at the time, was wheeling her bicycle across the common when she was hit.

She had to be placed in an induced coma for 17 days and her right leg was amputated, said Judge Geoffrey Tattersall QC.

He added: "This accident had a profound effect not only on Ms Jagger herself but also on some of those who witnessed the accident and went to assist her.”

After an eight-day trial at the Royal Courts of Justice, the judge described what happened to Ms Jagger as “an accident waiting to happen”.

Mr Holland was mostly to blame for the accident, he determined, but said that Cambridge Live, which at the time was in charge of organising cultural events for the city council, also bore a share of responsibility.

All vehicles, apart from the occasional council maintenance truck, were “normally excluded” from the common, the judge noted.

But he added: “On the day of the accident pedestrians and cyclists were free to use the common in the way they usually did, notwithstanding the presence of very large vehicles manoeuvring their way into position.”

Cambridge Live was in “control, possession and management” of the common at the time and “bore overall responsibility” for the event.

But the judge said: “There was no risk assessment which sufficiently identified and addressed the risk of vehicles coming into collision with pedestrians.”

While vehicles were manoeuvring onto the fairground, access to the common by pedestrians or cyclists should have been restricted by barriers or stewards, he said.

Confusion over who was responsible for marshalling vehicle movements on the common had led to an “obvious lack of safety”, he added.

Ms Jagger was no more than four metres from the edge of a footpath when Mr Holland drove his lorry across the grass and collided with her.

And the judge said that, had pedestrians and vehicles been properly separated, the accident would probably never have happened.

Cambridge Live, he added, had “admitted negligence” in failing to provide a “safe environment” in which Mr Holland could manoeuvre his lorry.

But the judge ruled that “the principal cause” of the accident was Mr Holland's negligent driving.

"By exercising reasonable care, he could have avoided Ms Jagger's accident...he must bear the major part of blame for being the primary cause of the accident," he said.

Ms Jagger's lawyers conceded during the trial that she bore 12.5 per cent of the responsibility for her own misfortune.

And the judge ruled that Mr Holland bore 65 per cent of the remaining liability, and Cambridge Live 35 per cent.

The ruling means that Ms Jagger is now entitled to 87.5 per cent of the full value of her damages claim.

The amount of her compensation has yet to be assessed, but her award is bound to be very substantial.

Cambridge Live is no longer in charge of the city council’s events programme. It collapsed last year, despite a bailout in 2018, due to “poor internal management”, an independent review concluded. Events are now run by the council.

Action to strike off Cambridge Live under the Companies Act 2006 has been temporarily suspended following an objection received by the registrar, according to Companies House.

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