Woman left with brain damage after being trampled by cows wins £1 million

A woman who was left brain damaged following an accident when she was trampled by a herd of cows has won £1 million compensation.

On 10 May 2003, 49-year-old Shirley McKaskie was using a public footpath to cross a field with her pet Jack Russell puppy in Greystoke, near Penrith in Cumbria, when a herd of forty cows attacked.

She had been crossing a field which was part of Greyrigg Farm owned by local farmer John Cameron. It was a public footpath to cut across the field at the hamlet of Greystoke Gill. She had been using the path on her way to meet her partner at a pub in the village.

The herd which included many calves were more than likely scared by the presence of a dog. The herd charged Mrs McKaskie who managed to get her puppy Tina to safety over a stile but was trampled herself by the cows. She suffered multiple injuries including fractured ribs, multiple soft-tissue injuries, and a hairline fracture of the skull which required emergency surgery.

As a result of the incident, she has been left with brain damage and can no longer work and remembers little of the accident.

She was found unconscious in the field by John Cameron, who took her to his farmhouse, from where she was taken to hospital by emergency services, where she underwent emergency brain surgery.

After the incident, an investigation was carried out by the Health and Safety Executive but no action was taken against Mr Cameron. However Mrs McKaskie decided to file a claim for compensation for her injuries against Mr Cameron in the amount of £1 million.

Preston County Court heard how the herd of 40 Simmental-cross beef cows contained 21 calves, which is why they became aggressive when threatened by the presence of Mr McKaskie’s dog. Her solicitor, Christopher Purchas QC said: “She’s quite seriously brain damaged and is now in a wheelchair. She has lost all her earning capacity and it has completely wrecked her whole life.”

Lawyers representing Mr Cameron claimed that Mrs McKaskie would have known that the cows could be dangerous and therefore had consented to the risk to cross the field after seeing them.

However Judge Nigel Haworth ruled in favour of Mrs McKaskie and awarded her substantial compensation. She will receive an interim payment of £250,000, plus £100,000 costs, with the final sum to be decided later, expected to be in the region of £1 million.

Mr Cameron who has owned the farm for almost 45 years with his wife, was unavailable for comment, however his wife Doreen Cameron had a comment. She said: “He saved her life but he’s never got a word of thanks, he’s just been sued, that’s what hurts him. We’re just absolutely devastated.”

The judge’s ruling is likely to force other farmers to keep cattle away from walkers, particularly when they have calves. The Cameron’s had previously kept cattle in the field for twelve years without incident.

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