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The 51 year-old was an experienced cyclist, riding along a clear, two lane straight road when he was involved in a head on collision with a Ford Fiesta. He suffered extensive injuries, including a brain injury involving an intracranial bleed and multiple fractures of the cervical and thoracic spine, the sternum, scapula, clavicle and his right metacarpal.
The cyclist was taken by ambulance to the local hospital and then transferred to the regional neural specialist hospital. He was in the intensive care unit for two weeks and the high-dependency unit for a further week. In all he was an inpatient in various hospitals for almost four months until December 2011.
He continued to suffer from the ongoing physical and psychological effects of his injuries and underwent extensive rehabilitation. At the time of the accident, this man was in a very senior and very well paid quality and business improvement role with a major aerospace manufacturer. The impact of the accident and his injuries on his life, his work and the family’s circumstances was enormous.
Chris McKinney, a partner in Access Legal Solicitors specialising in road traffic and cycle accident claims, was instructed to seek compensation for our client’s injuries acting on a no-win-no fee basis. His immediate priority was to get our client urgent access to the support and rehabilitation he needed to put his life back together. Immediate and specialist legal support meant that the defendant’s insurance company admitted liability at a very early stage. Chris says:
‘Our first step was to arrange an immediate needs assessment, organised under the rehabilitation code. We then appointed a professional case manager to oversee and implement a comprehensive therapy, treatment and rehabilitation package. Regular review meetings were held involving all the professionals working on the case, including the lawyers for the other side, so we could avoid arguments about the nature and extent of the support our client needed later in the proceedings.’
The use of a professional case manager in claims such as this has many advantages. Chris used the services of an experienced brain injury case manager to enable his client attain the best possible level of functional ability and provide seamless progression between rehabilitation and any long term therapeutic needs.
A case manager has the understanding and professional contacts which allow him or her to engage a range off appropriate therapists (both NHS and private) and co-ordinate their efforts to achieve the best outcome for the patient - and their family.
Meanwhile, to further support the claim, expert medical evidence was also obtained from a team of specialists including a consultant spinal surgeon, consultant neurologist and neuropsychologist, a microbiologist, consultant orthopaedic surgeon and a consultant in audio vestibular medicine.
Because he was unable to work at his pre-accident level and his future career progression was likely to be much lower than had been foreseen before the accident, our client’s ill health forced him to retire from his work in 2016 aged 56.
Access Legal Solicitors argued that, but for the accident, our client would have continued in employment at a senior level until his normal retirement age, claiming his loss of earnings and associated employment benefits as well as his loss of pension.
The other party queried the decision to retire and contended that our client had significant residual earning capacity. Whilst admitting liability, the other party’s insurers thus argued that the financial settlement should be significantly lower.
A joint settlement then meeting took place when terms of settlement were agreed in the sum of £635,000 gross. However, familiarity with the relevant legal mechanisms led Access Legal Solicitors to stipulate that the settlement would be recalculated if the Lord Chancellor announced a variation in the discount rate before the date fixed for the trial (March 2017).
The Lord Chancellor did in fact vary the discount rate within the agreed time frame and a revised settlement figure of £837,003 was calculated and paid to our client. A Consent Order was drawn up embodying the full terms of the agreement, bringing the legal proceedings to what was, financially at least, a satisfactory conclusion.
As we predicted, our client has been unable to return to his former professional occupation. However, by being well represented through the medical and legal processes, he has been able to rebuild his life and is now active in work with a local charity.