A WOMAN fighting for millions of pounds compensation is at the centre of a landmark Appeal Court case.
The case of Mirfield woman Louise Sowden raises crucial issues on whether insurers or councils should have to pay the massive costs of housing and caring for the most seriously injured accident victims.
Her lawyers say they were forced to settle her case last year for just £1.2m, on the basis that she would receive free care and accommodation from her council.
Miss Sowden lives at the Rooftops home in Mirfield.
But now her lawyers are arguing at the Appeal Court that Miss Sowden, originally from Doncaster, should have got more than £2.8 m.
Her counsel, Elizabeth Ann Gumbel QC, told three top judges that her client's case raised `fundamental issues' on where the burden should lie of caring for and accommodating `catastrophically injured' accident victims.
Mr Justice Andrew Smith ruled in March last year that most of the cost of caring for and housing Miss Sowden legally fell on Doncaster Council.
The insurers of the driver who struck her when she was 13 in September, 1992, were only required to pay for `top-up' care, he said.
It was that ruling which prompted the settlement of Miss Sowden's case in September last year for less than half the damages she had hoped for.
Miss Gumbel yesterday attacked the judge's ruling as `wrong in principle' and said Miss Sowden had not been adequately compensated.
She said the decision delivered a windfall and an "enormous financial advantage" to the insurance company - at the expense of councils and, through them, taxpayers.
Miss Gumbel said that if insurers could shift the cash burden to councils said the result would be "a reduction in the quality of provision for catastrophically injured claimants".
Miss Sowden was hit by a car in Doncaster in September, 1992. She suffered appalling head injuries and is now confined to a wheelchair.
The High Court heard last September that she was desperate to live as independent a life as possible. Her lawyers had sought more than £2.8m in damages, so she could live in a home of her own with private carers.
But they say they were forced to settle for £1.2m after Mr Justice Smith said the driver's insurers did not have to cover the costs of private accommodation and care because they were provided free by the council.
The hearing continues.