U.K.-based stuntwoman Olivia Jackson has won the latest stage in a long battle for damages following life-changing injuries she sustained during the filming of “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” in 2015.
Standing in for Milla Jovovich, Jackson was driving a motorcycle that collided head-on with a camera attached to a boom that extended from a motor vehicle during the shoot in South Africa. The camera was supposed to swoop up over her, but the camera rig was not lifted in time.
Jackson was in a coma for 17 days and her left arm was amputated. She suffered numerous other injuries, including spinal fractures and bleeding on the brain.
Following a hearing on March 5-6, the High Court in South Africa ruled that the stunt was negligently planned and executed by the South African company operating the camera and filming vehicle. The judgment also dismissed the defendants’ allegations that Jackson’s motorbike riding was at fault.
The vehicle and the camera were operated by driver Roland Melville and boom operator Gustav Marais of Bickers Action South Africa.
In a copy of the court judgement seen by Variety, Judge N Davis said there was a clear attempt to blame Jackson for the collision by Marais and Melville, and spoke of the “utter unreliability of their evidence.”
However, if and when Jackson receives compensation remains uncertain.
Following a preliminary trial of the South African High Court, it was held that the accident would be treated as a road traffic accident, and that the Road Accident Fund (RAF) of South Africa would be liable to compensate Jackson.
The judge said the RAF is 100% liable for Jackson’s proven or agreed damages.
However, due to the limitations of the RAF scheme, it is unlikely to come close to replacing Jackson’s lost career nor provide certainty for all her life-long disability-related needs.
A further trial in South Africa to assess the compensation payable to Jackson under the RAF scheme is likely to be two or more years off.
Last September, Jackson’s attorneys sued producer Jeremy Bolt and writer-director Jeremy Anderson in Los Angeles. The defendants argued that the Los Angeles court had no jurisdiction over the case, and the suit was withdrawn in November.
In a press statement, Jackson said: “I miss my old face. I miss my old body. I miss my old life. At least I now finally have a court judgment that proves this stunt was badly planned and that it was not my fault.
“But it really hurts that I have to live with the aftermath of other people’s mistakes, when, aside from a short period of my hospitalization in South Africa, none of the people who made those mistakes or profited from this film that made $312 million have actually supported me financially.”
Jackson, married to British stunt performer and James Bond double Dave Grant, was a newlywed when the accident took place.
Julian Chamberlayne, partner at legal firm Stewarts and global counsel for Olivia Jackson, said: “Action movies that require people to carry out dangerous stunts should always be very carefully planned and performed. They should also be backed by insurance that can meet the very significant life-long losses that could be incurred by any member of the cast and crew who is seriously injured.”
Gene Maddus contributed to this report.