Police in Scotland have reached a settlement with the family of a woman who died after being left in her car for three days following a crash.
Police were first alerted to the incident after a farmer spotted the car lying off the hard shoulder of the M9 motorway in 2015, however it wasn’t until three days later, following a second call from a member of the public, that they responded to the scene.
Upon arriving at the site police found 25-year-old Lamara Bell in a critical condition, with her partner, John Yuill, dead alongside her.
Bell was taken to hospital but died four days later, leaving behind two children aged five and 10.
Following the incident, Bell’s family sued Police Scotland over its failure to respond to the initial call. Police apologised for the events and admitted there were avoidable failures in the way it handled its calls that ‘materially contributed’ to Bell’s death. In September, Police Scotland was found guilty of corporate criminal liability, The Guardian reports.
The force has now settled the compensation action and paid £1 million to Bell’s family, with her children reportedly set to be awarded £500,000 each.
Lawyer David Nellaney of Digby Brown, who represented Bell’s family, acknowledged the compensation in a statement though said it is ‘unfortunate’ that Police Scotland did not ‘admit its failings sooner’.
The Bell family described the settlement as the end of ‘chasing answers, recognition and justice for six years’, adding:
Our pain and loss won’t stop just because the legal proceedings are over, but there is at least a sense of peace that comes with their conclusion. But that peace is fleeting because ultimately we are still without Lamara.
We are without a daughter and sister and her children are without a mother – such an outcome cannot, and should not ever, go unheeded in a fair society and we are glad to finally have attained that which we sought.
Deputy Chief Constable Fiona Taylor said Bell and Yuill’s deaths were a ‘tragedy’ and said the force’s thoughts ‘remain with their children, families and friends’. She continued, ‘The chief constable has been very clear that Police Scotland would engage with any legal process which may take place. It would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.’
Brown has praised the Bell family for the ‘patience, resilience and compassion’ they have maintained in the aftermath of Bell’s death.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.