An ambitious young police inspector whose career was left in ruins after a road crash has been awarded more than £50,000 by a High Court judge.

Karen Maddison, 31, had risen through the ranks to become Cleveland's youngest inspector and was rated in the top 200 officers nationally after passing her sergeant's exam aged 20.

Her hopes were shattered, when she was disfigured during the crash, which happened when she was six-and-a-half months pregnant.

Her Nissan Sunny was in a collision with a Ford Escort driven by Andrew McGreedy, in October 1998, at Leven Bank, an accident blackspot in Yarm, Stockton.

It had a "devastating" effect on her physical and mental health and she was medically retired from the force in May 2001.

She was left with a scar to her left eye, a broken nose, which left her with a "grave" cosmetic deformity, and a 6cm facial scar. Both of her lips are permanently numbed, which causes her problems when eating.

She also suffered broken ribs, lost teeth and permanent scarring to her knee.

Her statement of claim, which was submitted to the High Cout, sitting at Newcastle yesterday, reads: "Pre-accident, she was highly confident, intelligent, ambitious and outgoing. Following the accident, she has become withdrawn and depressed with low self-esteem and confidence."

Despite taking anti-depressants, Ms Maddison had constant thoughts about death and suffers flashbacks and nightmares.

It is likely she will remain vulnerable to episodes of depressive disorder and suffers from post- traumatic stress disorder.

Her claim for compensation against Mr McGredy was settled during a brief hearing before Mr Justice Field yesterday. The settlement figure was in excess of £50,000.

She alleged that he was driving on the wrong side of the road, crossing the continuous central white line.

She also claimed he was driving at excessive speed in the circumstances and failed to apply his brakes in time or at all.

He lost control of his car, failed to keep any or sufficient look-out and failed to have regard for her presence, the hearing was told.

Her claim was for personal injury sustained and pecuniary losses incurred.

Mr Justice Field said that he hoped that the settlement would mean Ms Maddison would be able to "get on with rebuilding her life".