on your side

Brain Injury claim – Case study Mrs J

The circumstances

Mrs J was a passenger in a car driven by her husband with her young son in the back when it was involved in a high-speed impact road traffic accident with the Defendant’s vehicle.

Liability was ultimately not an issue. Mrs J sustained multiple pelvic injuries, a wound to her forehead which left visible scarring, a closed head injury and dental damage. She also developed post-traumatic epilepsy which was able to be well controlled by medication.

She was initially in a high-dependency unit and after release from hospital was wheelchair bound for several months. She was severely traumatised by the situation and the matter was further complicated by the fact that her husband was also injured and traumatised and they had a young son to look after who was also traumatised, but thankfully not injured physically.

The case

Claire Watson worked initially with a case manager and liaised closely with the third party insurers to ensure funding was made available for adaptations to the home and all rehabilitation and treatment that was required. Mrs J struggled acutely with social isolation resulting from the effects of her brain injury.

She suffered from a cluster of neurological impairments including impairment in word finding, verbal expression, verbal memory and concentration. She is a private person and disliked what she saw as the intrusiveness of having outsiders in her home and ultimately did not want to have a case manager long term. She also lacked insight into the full effect that her condition had on herself and her family.

It took years of gentle support to reach a situation where she built up a good relationship with Dr Jacqui Sheppard, a local Neuropsychologist, and Mr William Reavley, a Psychologist, who worked with her to achieve a situation where she began to drive again and engaged a “buddy” who was someone she already knew. These outcomes reduced the strain on her husband who has a demanding career and for a long time undertook a great deal of the burden of her day to day care.

George Ide built a strong medico-legal team working closely with Mr Martin Bircher, an Orthopaedic Surgeon known for his expertise in complicated pelvic injuries, Dr Renee McCarter, Clinical Neuropsychologist, and Dr C J K Ellis, Consultant Neurologist. Ultimately, the Defendant’s experts were unable to dispute the causation of her condition, which is relatively unusual where more subtle effects of brain injury have occurred.

Settlement was achieved at a joint settlement meeting concluded by Claire Watson and Mark Lomas of Counsel. The Claimant and her husband were very nervous and when offers of around £350,000 were made, they wanted to accept. With support and encouragement they were guided through and ultimately accepted the sum of £500,000 with which they were absolutely delighted.

We were able to build a good case regarding the progression of Mrs J’s career despite the fact that she was not working at the time of the accident. The figures themselves were relatively modest compared to cases involving high earners, but nevertheless we regarded that as an achievement. A big part of the preparation of this case was a strong bank of lay witness evidence from family and friends.

Post settlement

The Claimant and her husband also consulted the George Ide investment advice team once compensation was received.

The Claimant’s team

Claire Watson, Mark Lomas of Counsel, Harrison & Associates for rehabilitation/case management, Dr C J K Ellis, Dr Renee McCarter, Mr M Bircher and Dr Mark Cheesman Employment/Vocational Rehabilitation expert through Doherty Stobbs.

The treating team, as well as the neuropsychologist and psychologist already mentioned, included a speech and language therapist. It took a long period of time for the treating team to achieve an understanding from Mrs J as to why speech and language therapy would assist her and ultimately Claire Watson was able to find a therapist whom Mrs J engaged and important benefits were achieved.

Important issues

The key to success in this case was the strong relationship between Claire Watson and Mrs J and her husband, which focused on gentle encouragement and support, and persistence in finding the right treating team – when some clinicians did not work, alternatives were found.

The case was closed in November 2010.