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Queensland’s biggest ever single personal injury settlement

3 minute read

Brain Injury
Motor vehicle accident

Chrys Barker was a big, strong, country lad, standing nearly six foot two inches. He loved fishing for bull sharks, riding BMX bikes, motorcycles and heading down to the speedway. He was adventurous, funny and adored by those around him. But his life and the lives of his loved ones changed forever one night in January 2014. 

A 26-year-old Chrys and his 20-year-old cousin Bobby Hobbs were driving back to their Donnybrook family home, just north of Brisbane, for dinner when a repeat drunk driver veered onto the wrong side of the road and collided with them head-on.  

The results were catastrophic; Bobby died instantly and Chrys sustained significant injuries including a severe traumatic brain injury that left him unable to speak, feed himself or even move without assistance.  

He underwent multiple emergency surgeries and was in a coma for weeks. Doctors considered him braindead until he moved his thumb– a signal of recovery and hope. 

Never once did Chrys’ family give up on him, because Chrys didn’t give up on himself. 

“What happened that day is in the past, we can’t change what happened. That driver changed Chrys’s life for the worse, but now it’s up to us as a family to change Chrys’s life for the better.”

Allan Barker 

The drunk driver’s third-party insurer accepted full liability but when it came time for Chrys to leave the hospital, the insurer proposed he be moved into an aged care facility for the rest of his life. For the Barker’s this wasn’t an option. His father knew putting him into aged care would be the end for his son.

Image source: Courier Mail,  Liam Kidston The Barker’s drew their line; they wanted Chrys moved back into their family home in Donnybrook instead and cared for by his loved ones. To make sure this happened, the family enlisted the help of Shine Lawyers. Shine Lawyers specialist Head Trauma team prepared Chrys’s case; gathering the detailed medical evidence needed to prove why aged care was not appropriate and not in Chrys best interest.

The team engaged specialists to meet with Chrys to assess him, to not just look at him on the papers, but to actually hear what the family was saying.

We were able to get the treatment team at the hospital, who were there beside Chrys day-in and day-out, to comment on what they have seen and also to talk to the benefits of having someone in their home environment to maximise the chance of improvement. 

Our legal experts calculated a compensation figure worthy of Chrys and his family’s future – costing everything from his medications, house modifications to make it accessible, physiotherapy equipment and a lifetime of care. 

In 2019, a settlement was reached, and the Barkers were awarded a record $20 million in compensation to give Chrys the best possible future. This payout is believed to be the biggest ever single personal injury claim in Queensland’s history and was instrumental in setting the standard for future personal injury claims. 

We listened, understood, and empowered the Barkers to draw their line, and follow their instincts to do what they knew was right for their son.

“It was easy putting our faith in Shine, because, from the beginning, they understood that right or wrong, Chrys was not going to end up in an aged care facility. If Chrys had 6 months left of life, it would be with us. If he had 60 years of life left, it would be with us. Shine understood that and didn’t give up on us.”

Allan Barker 

How Shine can help

As one of Australia’s largest litigation law firms, we’ve been successfully standing up for the rights of everyday Australians for over 45 years. We believe everyone should have the right to access justice.

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