As we near the end of March, which is recognised as Brain Injury Awareness month, a case recently handled by the Shoosmiths Serious Injury team highlights the importance of understanding the complex nature of these cases and the particular needs of clients who have sustained a brain injury.
Road traffic accident resulting in a traumatic brain injury
In this case, Shoosmiths were instructed by our client who sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) when he was injured in a road traffic accident. The circumstances of the accident were that our client was a rear-seat passenger in a vehicle being driven by the Defendant, southbound along the M1 when the Defendant driver struck another vehicle collided with the central reservation before coming to a halt sideways across two carriageways where it was struck by another vehicle.
Immediately it was clear that our client’s injuries were very serious; the most severe injuries being a diffuse axonal brain injury together with fractures of the neck. A diffuse axonal brain injury occurs when the connecting nerve fibres (axons) in the brain are torn, usually when the brain is shifted and/or rotated inside the skull.
Following the accident, our client was taken to hospital via air ambulance. He suffered a number of seizures in hospital, underwent spinal surgery to the neck and was diagnosed as having suffered an amnesia traumatic brain injury.
Chris McKinney, partner in the serious injury team noted: ‘This was a difficult case for a young man who had sustained catastrophic, life changing injures in an accident that was not his fault. We worked closely with the client and his family to support him through his rehabilitation to maximise his recovery and to obtain the compensation he needed to provide for him.’
Rehabilitation and occupational therapy
At the outset we wanted to ensure that our client was provided with rehabilitation to help his specific needs. Following his discharge from hospital we arranged for an immediate needs assessment under the rehabilitation code by an experienced brain injury case manager.
Our client was provided with: -
- supervision and case management support;
- neuropsychological therapy
- physical therapy including physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and acupuncture.
- occupational therapy.
- speech and language therapy.
- support from paid support workers
Kate Price-Marson, an experienced solicitor in the Shoosmiths Serious Injury Team, commented regarding the case, “Our team have the skills and experience to help our Clients obtain not just compensation, but also rehabilitation, care and support. This is crucial in helping them return to living a normal life after a traumatic brain injury. We recognise that bringing a claim can be a complex process and we aim to make that as simple as possible.”
Specialist expert evidence
The Shoosmiths Serious Injury team obtained medical evidence that showed that our client was at an increased risk of the development of post-traumatic epilepsy. He continued to suffer with behavioural and cognitive difficulties, dysarthria (slurred speech), chronic pain andanxiety as well as weakness in his arm and a tremor. It was unlikely that he would ever be able to return to employment.
The expert evidence confirmed that out client required ongoing case management, neuropsychological support, physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and full-time support from paid support workers.
Issues of capacity
The medical evidence also suggested that our client lacked capacity as a result of the injuries sustained in the accident. We worked alongside the Shoosmiths Court of Protection team to ensure that a Deputyship Order was in place to help handle our client’s personal and financial affairs.
Mediation and settlement
Following the exchange of medical evidence, an evaluative mediation was arranged between the parties. Mediation is an informal, voluntary and confidential process in which a mediator helps the parties resolve their dispute. A mediator’s role is not to take sides but he or she will often help to test the strength of each side’s position and explore solutions. Shoosmiths represented and supported our client and his family at the mediation meeting
At that mediation, we were able to agree settlement that provided compensation for the injuries and losses our client had suffered as a result of the accident. The settlement reflected that our client would not work again and notably recognised the need for him to provide for his young family. Importantly the settlement also provided for our client’s future care and rehabilitation needs.
This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2022