In a big victory, UK-based stuntwoman Olivia Jackson has won her latest battle in the lawsuit she filed after suffering life-altering injuries on the set of the 2015 movie Resident Evil: The Final Chapter.
Jackson, who was performing a stunt for Evil star Mila Jovovich, was on a motorcycle driving high-speed when she went head-on with a camera that had been attached to a boom extending from a motor vehicle. The attached camera was supposed to swoop up high over her during the stunt, but the camera rig did not lift in time.
“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,” said Jackson of the ruling. The judgement, which came from the South African High Court, ruled that the company operating the camera and filming (Bickers Action SA) negligently planned and executed the stunt. The High Court also dismissed the company’s allegations that it was Jackson’s riding which was at fault in the Resident Evil filming accident.
The accident on the Resident Evil: The Final Chapter set left Jackson in a coma for 17 days and eventually saw Jackson with her left arm amputated. She suffered many other injuries, including bleeding on the brain and spinal fractures. The spinal fractures have caused paralysis, which she continues to suffer in the top left quarter of her body and Jackson continues to undergo treatment for pain.
The lawsuit first saw light in Los Angeles, where Jackson’s attorneys sued the movie’s producer Jeremy Bolt and writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson along with their production companies for breach of oral contract and misrepresentation. This suit was eventually dropped after the defendants successfully argued that the matter needed to be resolved in South Africa, where the incident took place.
The accident took place when an intended Resident Evil fight scene was scrapped because of rain. This led to Jackson stepping in to film the poorly planned motorcycle stunt. According to Jackson’s legal team, it was a last-minute change, which Jackson was unaware of, which caused the near-fatal accident. The camera and boom were in a vehicle riding in the opposite direction from the stuntwoman and was supposed to lift in time for Jackson to fly past under it. The boom never lifted. Jackson described her injuries saying hitting the camera resulted in “slicing through the bone of her forearm and tearing the flesh off her cheek, leaving her teeth exposed.”
Julian Chamberlayne, who is representing Jackson and is a partner at the legal firm Stewarts, 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.”
This ruling is just one big hurdle cleared. Another trial in South Africa will be held to determine the compensation Jackson will receive. The issues Jackson and her legal team are now facing is in the High Court’s ruling, the judge determined that the accident would be treated as a road traffic accident and the Road Accident Fund (RAF) was 100% liable to compensate Jackson.
Unfortunately, the RAF scheme will likely not even come close to what Jackson is owed for her lost career and all her long-term medical needs. “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 claims the movie’s producers misled her into believing that the insurance would cover any of her injuries and financial loss, but they only paid $33,000. It wasn’t until later that Jackson also learned that there was no liability coverage for her claim. Sadly, the next trial may not be happening for another two years or longer.
Jackson is married to another stuntperson, husband Dave Grant, who has performed as a James Bond stunt double. They were newlyweds when the accident occurred.