A lifeboat volunteer, who received a royal honour for decades of life-saving, has been awarded compensation after a car accident forced him to quit. 

UNISON helped Robert Briggs, from Hayling Island, Hampshire, after he suffered whiplash injuries when his car was hit from behind on the M27 in November 2005.

Mr Briggs, from Hayling Island, Hampshire, who had to see a chiropractor for two years for his injuries, had been a member of the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) since 1986 and a senior helmsman since 1995. 

He also received the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for long service in 2003.

But the 50-year-old has been forced to remain on dry land since he sustained the serious injuries, which saw him fail the medical needed to remain a crew member.

He had to take four weeks off work from his job as a Trading Services Manager at Portsmouth Council.

And he suffered from a psychological condition that prevented him from applying for new jobs to further his career, including being unable to drive for long distances.

Whiplash injuries can be debilitating

The UK’s largest public sector union helped Mr Briggs receive £6,000 in accident compensation from the other driver’s insurers.

Mr Briggs said:

“Everything changed overnight after the accident, I never realised how debilitating whiplash injuries could be.

“I lost the ability to carry on with my lifeboat volunteering, which was devastating, not only because it was something that I loved doing and had won a number of honours for, but it was also a major part of my social life.

“The injuries have also made me afraid to do things that I took for granted before, including stopping me power kiting with the Kite Fliers Association.”

Victims of road accidents are not obliged to instruct their insurance company’s solicitors

Phil Wood, UNISON’s Regional Secretary for the South East region, said:

“We are pleased to have secured compensation following Mr Briggs’ accident.

“Back and neck injuries can ruin lives and he lost confidence, energy and was forced to give up his volunteering passion and hobbies.

“Mr Briggs had dedicated decades to saving lives on the lifeboat.

“For a man that has always been active this is a devastating blow.”

Sara Pacini, from Thompsons Solicitors, said: 

“Victims of road accidents are not obliged to instruct their insurance company’s solicitors. 

“At Thompsons we will always work to gain the maximum amount of compensation in the smallest amount of time for all of our clients.”