Policeman claims negligence led to addiction

Posted: 15th December 2017

Police OfficerOne very good reason why you should see a solicitor straight away if you are injured by someone else’s negligence is that compensation claims are subject to legal time limits.

However, one unusual case concerning a substantial claim against a police force showed that judges do have the power to extend such deadlines.

Ex-undercover police officer, Mr Carroll, claimed that posing as a drug dealer had led to his own addiction to heroin.

In order to make his undercover persona more believable, he had carried packages of heroin in his mouth, ingesting small quantities of the drug. He also claimed to have been exposed to heroin fumes during a training day.

His addiction eventually became so desperate that he swapped his police baton and CS spray for heroin and was convicted of theft and misconduct in public office. He was dismissed after receiving a 14-month prison sentence.

However, he subsequently launched proceedings against the force on the basis that his heroin addiction had arisen from negligence and breaches of statutory duty. Following a preliminary hearing, a judge ruled that the case could proceed to trial.

In ruling on the force’s challenge to that decision, the Court of Appeal noted that the Mr Carroll’s lawyers had conceded that his claim had been lodged outside the three-year time limit that applies to personal injury cases. However, the Court exercised its discretion to ensure that his claim received a full hearing.

The Court noted that the strength, or weakness, of the Mr Carroll’s case could only be assessed after hearing full evidence. If his claim succeeded, he would be entitled to substantial damages and the force had suffered no substantial prejudice as a result of the delay. The case would now proceed to a full trial.