A judge has ruled that a “morally reprehensible” speeding driver had a greater role in the death of a popular Moray businessman than NHS doctors who failed to treat his injuries properly.
Lady Wise concluded yesterday that the insurers of the late Daniel Gordon, who died in the crash he caused, should bear the brunt of a £741,361 pay out to the family of John Widdowson.
The 59-year-old was a passenger in one of two Volkswagen Polos which collided on the B9089 road near Kinloss on New Year’s Day in 2016.
Mr Gordon, who was 24, died at the scene whilst Mr Widdowson and the 80-year-old driver of the VW he was travelling in had to flee the vehicle as it burst into flames.
The Court of Session heard how Mr Gordon’s car crossed onto the opposite side of the road after it negotiated a bend.
Investigators concluded that he wasn’t wearing a seat belt and was travelling at 80mph.
Mr Widdowson, who ran a travel agency in Forres and had helped organise the annual Piping at Forres bagpiping competition, died at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness on January 11.
In the hours following the collision, he had been taken to Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin and he was allowed to go home on January 2 after a doctor concluded that his injuries weren’t serious.
The court heard that the following day, Mr Widdowson was rushed to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.
He later died and a post mortem found the cause of death was the “direct consequence of the abdominal trauma sustained in the motor vehicle collision”.
This prompted members of Mr Widdowson’s family to take Daniel Gordon’s insurers, NHS Grampian and NHS Highland to the Court of Session in Edinburgh.
NHS Grampian were sued on the basis that it was responsible for Dr Gray’s whilst NHS Highland was responsible for Raigmore.
All three defenders had admitted liability at an earlier stage in proceedings.
Yesterday, Lady Wise ruled on how much each each of them should contribute to the compensation payment.
She concluded that Mr Gordon’s insurers should bear 70% of the cost whilst NHS Grampian and NHS Highland should bear 15% each.
In a written judgement, she wrote that Mr Gordon was “extremely reckless” as he took a bend at 80mph.
She added: “That stands out as being morally reprehensible.”
Mr Widdowson was married to Fiona, a dad and ran the Beaver Travel firm.
Following the announcement of his death, local MSP Richard Lochhead described him as a “thoroughly decent man”.
The judgement tells of how following the crash Mr Widdowson was taken to Dr Gray’s Hospital.
Medical experts who scrutinised Mr Widdowson’s treatment whilst a patient there concluded that doctors didn’t follow best practice.
Following Mr Widdowson being allowed to go home, the judgment tells of how NHS 24 received a call from his home the following day saying he was vomiting, had a fever and was very drowsy.
A 999 call was made and an ambulance took Mr Widdowson to Raigmore in Inverness.
Doctors there performed a CT scan on Mr Widdowson and found a “number of abnormalities” in his body including rib fractures.
However, the court heard that staff at Raigmore also did not do enough to save Mr Widdowson’s life.
Lady Wise wrote: “In short, the life threatening injuries having been caused by the first defenders’ insured, there were opportunities to remedy that and save Mr Widdowson’s life that were not grasped.
“It is agreed that had surgery been performed by January 4, on balance Mr Widdowson would have survived.”