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Published On: December 22, 2016 | Blog | 0 comments

Sometimes it is better to wait before settling an injury claim

I acted for Mr N in a claim for compensation following a road traffic accident in March 2012. It took me over four years to settle Mr N’s claim which is not normal for most injury cases but it was the right decision for Mr N, as explained below.

In March 2012, Mr N was riding home on his bicycle from an appointment. He was in a bus lane but moved into the outside lane as there was a stationary bus blocking his path. A few seconds after moving into the outside lane he was struck by a scooter travelling at speed. He was thrown to the ground. Mr N’s most severe injury was to his right leg. He suffered a segmental fracture to his tibia and fibula. He was admitted for surgery to fixate the fracture with metalwork. He was in hospital for 2 weeks before being discharged. Mr N struggled upon his discharge from hospital. He was not able to weight bear for six months. He was not able to work as his role required prolonged standing and walking.

I was instructed shortly after the accident. The first issue to determine was who was responsible for the accident. The scooter rider’s insurance company strongly denied liability. They claimed that Mr N had pulled into the outside lane without looking and did not give the scooter rider any time to react.

I obtained the police report and also CCTV from the local council. The CCTV footage was from a camera approximately 100 metres from the accident scene so the quality was poor. The police report did not contain any independent witness evidence. I instructed an expert road traffic collision investigator to attend the scene of the accident and to attempt to enhance the CCTV footage. This provided successful as the investigator was able to enhance the footage to the point where you could see that Mr N had safely pulled into the outside lane and had been present within it for seven seconds before being struck by the scooter. It was clear that Mr N had nothing wrong and the accident was the scooter rider’s fault. After I disclosed the report the insurers accepted liability in full.

Unfortunately, while I was investigating liability, Mr N was not recovering as expected. He had returned to work in January 2013 but had suffered ongoing knee pain. He an operation in June 2013 to remove the metal work which was successful and then an arthroscopy in December 2013 which again failed to improve his symptoms but confirmed he was suffering from a severe problem to his right knee. He stopped work at the end of 2013. Mr N’s treating doctors advised that there was nothing they could do to improve his symptoms and they recommended that he undergo a total knee replacement.

Mr N was only 42 years old at this time and was concerned about having a knee replacement at such a young age. Knee replacements on average only last 10 to 15 years before they fail and you have to undergo a revision surgery. Each revision only lasts 10 to 15 years and the quality of knee function normally diminishes with each surgery. With a life expectancy of over another 40 years, Mr N would potentially have severe problems in later life if he underwent a knee replacement in his forties.

I arranged for Mr N to seek a second opinion on a private basis. The consultant whom I instructed confirmed that there were no surgical solutions to Mr N’s pain but that he could potentially defer the knee replacement by undergoing pain management treatment. After much consideration, Mr N decided to defer surgery with pain management. I obtained interim payments and over a period of 18 months Mr N underwent intensive treatment which was successful in improving his pain levels and enabling him to return to work, albeit on reduced hours.

I was able to delay the court process (with agreement from the insurers) to allow my client to undergo and complete his treatment. When Mr N saw a medical expert this year for a final review, it was confirmed that whilst he would still need a knee replacement he had delayed it most probably for 10 to 15 years, meaning he would require only knee one revision surgery. He would now be able to work until retirement age (on reduced hours).

I then commenced settlement negotiations with the insurers and settlement of over £200,000 was agreed which included the past claim for loss of earnings, future loss of earnings on the basis that Mr N would only be able to work reduced hours and a claim for the future cost of the knee replacement surgery on a private basis.

Allowing so much time to pass meant that I was able to help with Mr N with treatment throughout the claim and to give him certainty as to the future.

* Disclaimer: The information on the Anthony Gold website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. It is provided without any representations or warranties, express or implied.*

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