BBSA have found to have been responsible for Serita Shone's accident ©Getty Images

A court has found the British Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association (BBSA) responsible for causing an accident in 2011 that left athlete Serita Shone with a serious spine injury.

Shone, who switched from athletics to bobsleigh in 2011, was taking part in training runs in Winterberg, Germany, when she suffered the accident.

On the second day of a four-day training camp, her bobsleigh collided with wooden boarding at the top of corner 13, flipped over and crashed.

The then 22-year-old was thrown from the bobsleigh as she was unable to grip the sled and severely injured her back on the ice when she fell.

Her injury led to Shone undergoing emergency surgery to have her spine re-aligned along with a further operation five days later.

She also suffered a collapsed lung and was only allowed to return to the United Kingdom three weeks later.

Shone then returned to action 18 months later and won bronze at the 2013 British Championships, but retired the following year.

Shone's lawyers, Hilary Meredith Solicitors, successfully argued that had she been able to customise the sled in the way it ought to have been done, this would have enabled her to remain in the bobsleigh.

The witnesses for the BBSA denied that it was the practice that athletes adapted their bobsleighs with handles, footpegs and padding, to provide them with the mechanisms to brace themselves to remain in the sled.

The judge, however, did not accept this version of events and instead accepted the accounts given by Shone and her witnesses.

Director of Hilary Meredith Solicitors Sinead Cartwright said: "Instead of acknowledging their responsibility for this serious injury, the BBSA sought to blame Serita for her accident and fought the case all the way to court in a trial that lasted five days.

"Thankfully, the judge has now found in Serita's favour, ruling that the BBSA was responsible for causing this accident.

"Serita is a remarkable individual who was fully committed to succeed as an Olympian.

Serita Shone switched from athletics to bobsleigh in 2011 ©Getty Images
Serita Shone switched from athletics to bobsleigh in 2011 ©Getty Images

"That opportunity was denied to her when the BBSA failed to ensure her safety in what is already a dangerous sport.

"Had they done so then it is highly likely that Serita would have gone on to compete for Britain in the Winter Olympics.

"It is only the sheer determination and character of Serita which enabled her to make the remarkable recovery that she has."

Commenting on the case, Shone said: "I am thankful that this long legal battle has come to a close.

"The findings that the BBSA were responsible for my injuries confirm what I have believed all this time - that they didn't put my safety first.

"I was a committed and talented young athlete, who was aspiring to impress the team and ultimately qualify for the Olympics.

"They used me for what I believe to be 'cannon fodder' and sent me down the ice track, unprepared and in an unsafe condition.

"I worked tirelessly, after my physical injuries, to get back full time into the elite squad, but the damage was already done and will last my lifetime."

The BBSA will be liable for damages and costs.

"Bobsleigh is one of the most dangerous Olympic winter sports and there are significant rules and regulations to ensure athlete safety at all times," a statement said to BBC Sport.

"The BBSA and its coaches acted in accordance with international rules and regulations at the time of the accident in October 2011.

"The safety of those athletes taking part is of paramount importance and, as a consequence, we continually review our practices and procedures to ensure the safety of all athletes and staff."