On 24 January 2014 Chrys Barker suffered catastrophic injures in a motor vehicle accident on Pumicestone Road near Donnybrook, Queensland. The accident occurred on a sweeping-right hand bend in a 100km/h zone when Craig Jones lost control of his Toyota Hilux utility, crossed into the opposite lane and collided with oncoming traffic.
Mr Jones had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.215%. He was convicted of the dangerous operation of his vehicle and sentenced to eight years jail with non-parole period of over two years. He was also disqualified from ever holding a driver’s licence due to his driving history which included three prior convictions for drink driving. Less than two years before the accident, Mr Jones had his driver’s licence disqualified for 12 months after recording a blood alcohol concentration of 0.149%.
At the time of the accident, Mr Jones was the holder of a probationary driver’s licence which required him to have an alcohol ignition interlock fitted to his vehicle so that it could only be started if he had a 0% blood alcohol level. The Toyota Hilux utility that Mr Jones was driving at the time of the accident was not fitted with such a device.
Mr Barker suffered significant injuries in the accident including a severe brain injury. He is confined to a wheelchair and requires care for 24 hours a day. Bobby Hobbs, Mr Barker’s 20 year old cousin, was killed instantly in the accident. The two occupants of a third vehicle involved in the accident suffered less serious injuries.
RACQ, Mr Jones’ CTP insurer, accepted liability in full for the accident and Mr Barker’s claim. RACQ initially proposed that Mr Barker be moved into an aged care facility due to extensive care requirements. Mr Barker’s parents however wanted to care for him in the family home and obtained medical evidence supporting the therapeutic benefit in him being at home rather than in an aged care facility. Extensive modifications were required to allow for Mr Barker to be cared for at home.
While RACQ first agreed to the home care arrangement in early 2015, it took another four years before Mr Barker’s injuries stabilised to such an extent that a final settlement could be reached. In February 2019, the Queensland Supreme Court sanctioned a settlement of Mr Barker’s claim in the sum of $20.5 million.
The approved settlement is considered to be the largest ever settlement of a single personal injuries claim in Queensland.