£1m settlement for seriously injured claimant
I recently settled a case for my client who was a passenger in a car driven by her brother. The driver lost control of the vehicle on the motorway resulting in a high speed collision with the central reservation. My client was badly crushed by the front end of the car and suffered catastrophic lower limb fractures together with other injuries. After 5 years the claim was settled just before trial.
My client was 52 years old at the time of her injury and worked as a chef full time. She lived near Leeds and was making her way down to London to care for her elderly mother and look for a job locally. In the accident she sustained serious and multiple trauma including a fracture of the pelvis, an open fracture of the left tibia and fibula, a fracture of the left ulna and thumb, rib fractures,lung contusions, intra-abdominal and dental injuries.
The injuries were life threatening, requiring my client to be airlifted to Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridgeshire where she was an inpatient for 5 months. Upon admission, a wide and extensive area of damage was noted to the left leg. There was an “open book” fracture of the pelvis. Both were repaired and an external fixator placed in situ. The fracture of the ulna was repaired an above the elbow cast applied. My client underwent further surgeries of the left tibia on 3 occasions that month. In addition she was subsequently diagnosed with a dislocated left thumb and elected for fusion surgery.
The most serious injury was that to the left leg. The initial fixation was noted to be unsatisfactory, and the tibial nail was removed and an external fixator applied to allow distraction of the bone. Later there was noted to be a gap in the fracture site, requiring a further hospital admission for adjustment of the fixator. As time went on my client’s physiotherapist noted that she had developed severe left foot equinas with fixed flexion deformity of the left knee. An end footplate to treat this was ultimately unsuccessful. Extensive skin grafting had been undertaken. Drainage and washout of a seroma cavity from a right gracilis muscle harvest was required, necessitating a further admission to hospital.
In January 2017 my client was seen again by treating surgeons, when it was noted her left tibia had still not sufficiently united to allow removal of the external fixator, and a clinical decision was made to keep it in situ for at least 3-4 further months. The full external device was eventually removed on 26 June 2017 after over 2 years.
Liability was not in issue and during the lifetime of the case I was able to secure substantial interim payments of over £300,000 to pay for my client to be rehabilitated with a structured programme of water and land-based physiotherapy and gym exercise. That said she was left with extremely poor left leg function and fixed flexion deformity of her left knee and ankle, which is painful and greatly restricts her mobility.
My client received a six figure sum to compensate her injuries. In addition she recovered her lost earnings as a chef until retirement age as it was agreed she was not able to return to work in another capacity. Additionally my client required a host of domestic services including cleaning and washing, window cleaning and DIY.
Active case management helped to institute a structured rehabilitation package which it was agreed would need to continue in the future. In addition my client required level access accommodation which was rented for her and an appropriate sum recovered to ensure her rental payments on an ongoing basis.
Some additional treatments and therapies were also funded through the claim. My client struggled with significant weight gain due to inactivity post-accident. Interim payments funded gastric surgery which resulted in weight loss and a reduction of diabetes risk which was positive for my client. In addition she paid for a silicone sleeve which was custom made to be worn over her lower leg to cover the worst of her scarring.
The parties met in a joint settlement meeting which failed and the matter proceeded towards trial, but shortly before trial the insurers made an increased offer. The final settlement of interim payments and a further lump sum totalled £1 million which was appropriate compensation and which allows my client to live re-assured that her future needs will be met. A personal injury trust was set up to enable my client’s continuing entitlement to benefits following receipt of her award and she is getting independent financial advice to ensure it is appropriately invested.
This was a long and difficult case with complex issues throughout. I was sorry that our settlement meeting did not result in compromise as it would have provided my client with an earlier agreement but she was right to continue with the claim until properly and fully compensated.
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