Police chiefs ordered to pay out £35,000 to crash victims

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POLICE chiefs have been ordered to pay £35,000 in compensation to two drivers injured in separate crashes involving police vehicles.

Laura Boyd was awarded £22,500 in damages after her car was hit by a police van on an emergency call, leaving her with facial scars needing surgery.

The 37-year-old was left in agony following the collision in Pumpherston, West Lothian, which force lawyers tried to blame on her. She had been seeking a pay-out of £75,000.

Meanwhile, Sheryl Skelton won £12,500 in compensation at the Court of Session in Edinburgh after her Peugeot was struck from behind by a car in Gilmerton Road.

The 33-year-old needed physiotherapy for a neck injury and later complained of suffering “vivid nightmares” in the wake of the accident.

The customer services adviser with Standard Life was driving along Gilmerton Road on February 24, 2009, when she slowed down near Ivanhoe Crescent as a bus emerged from a bus stop. As she did so, a Toyota Avensis police car drove into the rear of her vehicle.

Mrs Skelton told the Evening News: “I had slowed down to let the bus out when this car struck me from behind.

“I suffered whiplash and was off my work for three or four weeks. I still have problems with the whiplash when I’m doing things which involve bending. It can be painful.

“The driver admitted liability straight away but it was still a bit of a nightmare to get the compensation sorted out.”

Mrs Skelton, of Redwood Walk in Newtongrange, said she ultimately received around £6000 after legal fees and other costs.

Lawyers for Ms Boyd launched her legal action after she was injured in the accident in Uphall Road, Pumpherston, West Lothian, on November 21, 2007.

The accounts assistant had been driving her Toyota when she slowed to let a police van pass. Ms Boyd said she checked her mirrors and indicated before continuing towards a junction when a second police van smashed into her. She said the van’s siren had not been activated at the time.

Ms Boyd, who lives in Falkirk, suffered “significant facial lacerations resulting in permanent, obvious and disfiguring scarring”, as well as whiplash.

Her lawyers added that Ms Boyd had been left “embarrassed and self-conscious” by the scars on her face.

Lawyers for the force claimed that Ms Boyd would have seen the police van in her mirror if she had checked, adding that its flashing lights were on.

They stated: “The accident was caused by [Ms Boyd] electing to make a right turn when she could have seen the police vehicle behind.”

Police were involved in 205 accidents on Lothian roads last year. Eight members of the public suffered injuries, while seven police officers were hurt.

A police spokesman said: “Unfortunately, there are occasions when the public suffer injury or sustain damage to their property as a result of police action and in these cases the force recognises the importance of providing compensation.”

PARK STRIFE

POLICE vehicles were involved in 200 crashes in car parks at police stations in less than five years.

The total was recorded in Lothian and Borders between April 2007 and December last year.

The collisions were among 1378 accidents involving police vehicles in the force area.

Police vehicles were involved in crashes in other car parks, including last year at B&Q in Longstone.