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Gemma Witherington

Call 2008

"She is a real fighter and an astute thinker".
(Legal 500)

Personal Injury

Gemma is recommended by Legal 500 as a leading individual in personal injury work.  She represents both claimants and defendants in fatal and catastrophic injury claims, including severe brain damage, spinal injuries, and amputations.  She has a particular interest in cases involving significant head injuries and is sought after for settling complex Schedules and Counter schedules.

She regularly acts for many leading insurers and is experienced in group litigation. Gemma is known for her fierce advocacy and unrivalled determination to get the best results for her clients as well as for her calm manner and eye for detail.

Her core specialisms include:

Fatal Accident claims

Gemma advises on claims brought by and against Estates for bereavement damages. This often involves complex work on schedules of loss or counter schedules.

Psychiatric Injury

Gemma has settled and advised on many claims for occupational stress and harassment with complex medical causation issues and novel issues of quantum; further Gemma has advised the NHSR, NHS Wales and Claimants in respect of the prospects of success of bringing secondary victim claims, where complex issues arise in respect of whether an event in sufficiently shocking, proximity in space and time and causation.

Catastrophic injuries

Gemma has considerable experience of catastrophic spinal and brain injury litigation encompassing severe cognitive conditions arising in the context of road traffic accidents and employers’ liability claims; and in the analysis of high value complex claims.  She is instructed for her success in mediations in difficult cases such as serious fatal accidents and to attend round table settlement meetings. Gemma understands the emotional difficulties involved in catastrophic cases and the need for sensitivity when dealing with clients.

Motor accidents

Gemma has extensive experience of cases involving allegations of fraud or exaggeration and often involving technical expert reconstruction evidence- please see her Insurance Fraud profile for further information.

Occupiers and vicarious liability claims

Gemma has broad experience for both Defendants and Claimants in occupier’s liability cases.

Animals Act and dog bite claims

Gemma has represented numerous Claimants who have suffered serious life changing injuries from dog bites; and serious injuries from falls and bites from horses.

International Injury & Travel Law

Gemma has experience in representing Defendants arising out of the Package Travel, Package Holiday and Tour Regulations 1992 in respect of gastric illness. She has also dealt with accidents abroad, jurisdictional issues, and the Montreal convention.

Selected Cases

Fatal Accident claims:-

  • The Estate of Frederick Oborne v Berkshire Hathaway International Insurance (2021) instructed to represent the estate of the deceased following a horrific road traffic accident where a man was decapitated at the scene of the accident when his bike was struck by the Defendant driver. Case is ongoing.
  • The estate of Harry Rice and others v Mr Chudasama (2021) instructed to represent three bereaved families whose children were killed in a fatal car accident in 2018 when they were struck by the Defendant’s vehicle. Claim ongoing.

Psychiatric Injury:-

  • JK v Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust (2021) instructed to act for the Defendant NHSR where the Claimant’s baby died shortly after birth as a result of obstetric negligence. A claim has been brought by the father of the child on the basis that he has suffered personal injuries arising from the psychiatric shock. The father is a well-known international actor, who alleges he lost the chance of significant earnings in Hollywood/blockbuster films on account of his injuries. The Claim was dismissed at trial.
  • Mrs Sandhu v Alliance Bernstein Limited (2019) instructed on behalf of the Defendant in this psychiatric injury claim brought by the Claimant against her former employer. There were serious allegations of abuse against employees of the Defendant and the Police were investigating the allegations, which had racist and sexist undertones. The Claim was struck out.

Catastrophic injuries:-

  • Vallens v Oxted School (2019) instructed by the Claimant when she was struck on the head in the course of her employment duties at work and has suffered a serious brain injury and impairment of cognitive function. Reconstruction evidence, primary liability, apportionment, and quantum were all in issue. Claim successfully settled.
  • Representing the Claimant, a young man under the age of 30, in the High Court who has suffered a brain injury following a head on collision at 80 mph. The case involved loss of cognitive function, long term care issues and complex loss of a chance arguments.
  • Piero v TFL, representing the Claimant who suffered a serious and life changing brain injury when he was struck on the head by a falling tube station sign. He was a Captain for an international airline before the accident.

Motor Accidents:-

  • Mrs Sarah Stainthorpe (as representative of Donald Stainthorpe) v James Patmore (2021). Represented the Claimant in this catastrophic injury case where the Claimant was knocked from his mobility scooter by the Defendant driver. He lived for a further 9 months before dying from his injuries. Achieved a successful settlement of the case and sizable compensation for his estate.
  • Mr Bugden v Drayz representing the Claimant in this action for damages where the Claimant cyclist was knocked from his bike and suffered life changing injuries. Trial listed in 2022.

Occupiers and vicarious liability claims:-

  • D’Agostino v Caroline Farthing and Farthing Flowers Limited (2021) instructed to represent the Claimant in a claim for damages where he fell down a set of stairs at an Ottolenghi Deli and severed an artery in his arm. He nearly died due to the blood loss and the injury had life changing consequences. Gemma succeeded in establishing liability and a significant damages award.
  • Clark v Warmlington Methodist Church (2019) instructed to represent the Defendant in this public liability claim for a trip in a town hall. The claim was dismissed following trial.
  • Instructed to advise the National Research Council of Great Britain in respect of an injury sustained by one of their employees in Antarctica during a research mission. The Claim was successfully struck out.

Animals Act and dog bite claims:-

  • Pamela Menzies v Doggie Holiday Homes and others (2021) instructed on behalf of the First to Third Defendants in this Animal’s Act claim. The Claimant was knocked over in the park by the Fourth Defendant’s dog causing lifelong injuries. Claim successfully dismissed at trial.
  • Alan Michael Carr v Mrs May and Mr Hammick (2021) representing the Defendants in this claim alleging serious injuries sustained by the Defendants’ dog. Trial listed for autumn 2021.

International Injury & Travel Law:-

  • Daniel Samuel v Expedia (2021) acting for the Defendant in this claim by a hotelier against the booking company. Claim ongoing in 2021.
  • Groves v Red Sea Holidays successfully defended the holiday company against a travel sickness claim brough by mother and daughter for allegedly contracted norovirus whilst on holiday in Egypt. The claims were dismissed after a trial.
  • Shakespeare v British Airways (2020), representing a claimant for personal injuries following bed bug bites she received whilst on board a BA aircraft.

Other recent instructions:-

  • Aylse McCamish and Sydney Feder v Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (2021) instructed to represent the Claimants in an action for mishandling of sexual abuse claims against the Defendant college. Case is ongoing.
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News


Qualifications


  • BA (Hons)
  • PgdDip
  • BVC: Very competent
  • Inner Temple Exhibition Award 2007-2008
  • Streuben Benefactor Award 2007- 2008

Memberships


  • The Honourable Society of Inner Temple
  • Personal Injury Bar Association
  • Association of Personal Injury Lawyers

Recommendations


”A thorough and balanced barrister who maintains a calm presence and ensures all angles are thoroughly explored.”

“Her drafting style is clear and persuasive. She is very personable and easy to work with. She is excellent at responding quickly to enquiries. She has a good rapport with clients and is not afraid to take on difficult cases.”

“She has the knowledge and experience of breaking down complex legal and factual issues.”

“Her attention to detail is exceptional.”

“She is a rising star and a real fighter.”

“She is a real fighter and an astute thinker”.

“Very good at giving direct, sensible and pragmatic advice”.

“She is a very determined advocate and really fights her client’s corner”.


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