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Road accident solicitor case study

Claimant’s team

Bill Braithwaite QC and Amanda Yip of Exchange Chambers
Paul Fretwell, Partner, George Ide

Defence team

Tania Griffiths QC Exchange Chambers
Treasury Solicitor

Case details

The Claimant, aged 25 at date of accident and 30 at date of settlement, was rendered paraplegic following a road accident abroad in 2005. He had a subsequent operation to repair an injured hand which limited his ability to transfer independently and safely to and from his wheelchair. Date of settlement was November 2010.

The Claimant had the support of close and loving family. Suitable accommodation was purchased and adapted for him to live with his family. Interim payments were obtained as the case progressed, to cover the accommodation costs, to replace lost earnings and to provide for a suitable regime of case management, professional support work occupational and physiotherapy and to provide for a an adapted vehicle.

The Claimant was supported at College while he undertook various courses, partly for therapeutic benefit and partly to enhance prospects for return to some sort of work at some point in the future (non specific).

The Claimant was (and remains) proud, independent and part of a very close, loving and supportive family. The Claimant and the family had to proceed at their own pace in coming to terms with the long term consequences of this devastating injury and disability.

It took time for the professional support to work effectively, under the stewardship of a particularly effective case manager.

The Claimant was particularly troubled by spasms which were partly relieved by warm water bathing/swimming (hydrotherapy) and by the use of a Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) bike.

It took time to build up a full and reliable picture to allow “crystal ball gazing” for the Claimant’s future, in particular in relation to his care needs. As so often is the case, care was the main area of contention/difficulty in this claim. The insight of the case manager, in her witness statement, was particularly important/persuasive in relation to the future care and case management team.

Over time, we developed a good rapport and working relationship with the Defence solicitor which served the Claimant well, particularly in the closing stages of negotiations.

We successfully advanced a claim for future fully adapted accommodation, on the basis that the Claimant would move out of his family home to live on his own, in due course with his own partner and children.

It is undoubtedly the case that our spinal and care experts were absolutely vital in ensuring an appropriate package for case management, care and support for the future.

It is an unusual feature of such a high value claim that the settlement was on a traditional lump sum basis. This is because the alternative periodical payments offer had an equivalent value of £1 million less!

The award

(approximate figures)

Pain, suffering and loss of amenity £155,000

Past losses £370,000, including £63,000 for past care and £120,000 for past accommodation

Future loss

Loss of earnings £435,000

Pension £120,000

Care and case management £1.3 million

Equipment £240,000

Transport £150,000

Accommodation £570,000

Hydrotherapy £18,000

Medical therapy £150,000

Holidays £130,000

Total £3.62 million

Thoughts

Looking back over the life of this case, in terms of lessons learned or reinforced, the following points appear of particular relevance;

    1. The importance of the client, having been advised accordingly, being allowed and enabled to live his life first and foremost, with the legal case very much following on behind.