A hero who was engulfed in flames and survived when he tried to save his uncle’s life has finally won £1million in compensation following a lengthy and landmark legal battle.
Terry Dunnage, 37, suffered burns across half his face and body after he unsuccessfully tried to stop his schizophrenic uncle Vincent Randall, 45, from setting himself on fire.
Father-of-five Terry spent months in hospital fighting for his life after he was consumed in a petrol inferno, surviving only because he leapt from a first-floor balcony.
However, when he tried to claim for damages on his uncle’s insurance – which fully covered damages for accidental bodily injury – Direct Line Group refused to pay out.
The parent company argued Vincent was not liable because he was delusional.
It took Terry eight years and an exhausting ‘David and Goliath’ legal battle, but he was ultimately able to prove the insurer was wrong, and three appeal court judges said he was entitled to substantial damages after determining he was a ‘rescuer’.
Speaking to the Herald Express, Terry said:
I thought I was going to die and they actually read the last rites to me twice in hospital. I even lost my house because I couldn’t pay the mortgage, yet they still refused to pay out. It was very stressful spending years battling for justice whilst trying to recovery myself. I wanted to give up the fight many times as it was so disheartening.
They made me feel bad for fighting for what was right and what I deserved. The joke is they spent so much money fighting me that they could have just offered me that in the first place and my life would have been so much easier.
School cleaner Vincent had become increasingly delusional before his death and was convinced people were following him. When he visited Terry and his former partner’s home in Paignton, Devon in October 2007, he accused the couple of being involved.
The schizophrenic poured petrol over himself and said “tell me the truth or we’re all going up”. Terry tried to grab the lighter, but it was ignited by Vincent, and the pair went up in a ball of flames.
After unsuccessfully trying to drag his uncle towards the balcony, Terry leaped to safety as all his clothes burned off his body.
Recounting the incident, he added:
My skin started dripping off my hands and my ears, but initially because of the adrenaline I couldn’t feel the pain. But by the time the ambulance got there I thought I was going to die. I went into shock and I thought that was it.
After the attack, medics put Terry in a drug-induced coma for five weeks while they battled to save his life. After daily operations and skin grafts as well as 20 blood transfusions he was woken up by medics, and had to relearn to walk and talk.
Terry now plans to use the compensation money to fund a project – The Terry Dunnage Foundation – to help injured people using music.
I’m glad it is over – it’s not even about the money. I want to show other people there is hope when you experience something terrible. Never give up, always keep going and always follow your dreams.