JENSEN LA VENDE
A POLICEMAN with at least 30 years service has been ordered by a High Court judge to compensate two men he knocked down during the 2011 State of Emergency with close to US$1 million.
Justice Eleanor Joye Donaldson-Honeywell in a 24-page judgement obtained by Sunday Newsday, ordered that Joseph Coraspe compensate Darren Roome and Matthew Tambie after they were both injured when Coraspe knocked them off their bikes while driving along the Southern Main Road, Caroni, on September 16, 2011.
Coraspe must pay Roome, $207,900 in general damages and $3,825 in special damages plus interest on both at 2.5 per cent per annum. He was also ordered to pay $217,600 for future medical expenses and a further US$877,799 and an additional $78,480 for future loss of earnings.
Coraspe was ordered to pay Tambie $39,521 in general damages and $15,150 in special damages and interest on both at 2.5 per cent per annum. Tambie was also awarded $7,200 for future medical expenses.
Coraspe was to pay the legal fees of Nirad Samnada-Ramrekersingh and Philip Wilson who represented the two men. Coraspe was represented by Kathleen Pilgrim-Thornhill and Chloe Mc Millan.
Justice Donaldson-Honeywell, in handing down the judgement, deducted 25 per cent off the requested sums except the medical fees for Roome, as she agreed that both victims played a part in the accident by riding their bicycle on the wrong side of the road.
The facts stated that around 8.30 pm on the date in question, the two cyclist were heading west along the Southern Main Road while Coraspe was heading east near Frederick Settlement. Coraspe was not insured to drive the vehicle at the time of the accident and Motor One Insurance who was sued as a second defendant was withdrawn by the court from the lawsuit. All three men were heading to their homes to beat the 9 pm curfew. Roome sustained injuries to his face and body while Tambie suffered injuries to his head neck and on a lesser extent to his forearm and shin.
Coraspe, who testified that he was a police officer for close to 30 years, claimed he was unaware that driving without insurance was a criminal act. In a report submitted to court, Coraspe admitted to driving at 40 miles per hour (64.4km) while the speed limit was 50 km/hr. Coraspe said in his evidence that, after the collision, he saw the two men in a nearby drain and the severe facial injury to Roome then went home without waiting for medical assistance to arrive and he did not report the matter immediately.
“Essentially, he fled the scene because, according to him, he heard bystanders making comments about the accident and thought they would blame him. He gave no evidence that he tried to get names of potential witnesses despite the nature of the accident and injuries he observed. His conduct was inconsistent with a lack of responsibility for the accident.” Donaldson-Honeywell stated.
She said Coraspe was less credible than Roome and Tambie and found he was driving at an excessive speed in an area he was unfamiliar with, on a wet road, at night. She added that both bikes had reflectors and the men were wearing bright colours and, although Coraspe saw them from 20 feet away, he still collided with them.
Roome, who was thrown from his bike and dragged face down resulting in his face being disfigured, had to undergo several surgeries and will have to endure more. He suffered severe injuries to his face and spine along with a broken bones in his left leg. He also developed a cataract as a result of the trauma leading to significant deterioration of his eyesight.
Roome’s injuries and subsequent surgeries caused him to lose his external nasal structure causing him severe pain, discomfort and continuous ridicule for how he now looks.
Roome said he was crippled in the job market as constant pain had hindered his search for employment. He said his his romantic life was affected as well because he suffered from constant headaches, mood swings, sleep difficulty, diminished vision in the right eye and an inability to remember recent events.
Tambie suffered mild head injuries and multiple soft tissue injury, memory loss, headaches and weakness in the left arm. He was described as being irritable and abusive towards his mother as a result of the accident and was diagnosed with post-traumatic disorder and psychological issues.