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Settlement for accident that led to right arm amputation

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The serious injury legal experts at Shoosmiths recently achieved a substantial settlement for a client who suffered a life-changing amputation of his right arm following a hit and run road traffic accident. Concluding the claim successfully required both legal expertise and use of the latest telecommunications technology.

At the time of the accident, our client was a contractor, employed to manage duct operations on a site in Hemel Hempstead. A traffic management system including cones, traffic lights and signs had been put in place, however, later in the day these measures were removed, apart from one cone and a blue arrow sign. At approximately 9:30pm, our client was testing one of the chambers below street level. He was wearing high-vis clothing and had entered the chamber via a manhole. The manhole was situated next to a mini roundabout in the centre of a T – junction and although it was dark at the time, the area was well lit by streetlamps and visibility was good. The entrance to the chamber was covered by a metal manhole cover.

As our client was exiting the chamber via the manhole cover, the defendant in this claim drove over the mini roundabout. As a result, our client was struck either directly by the car or by the manhole cover which had been propelled towards him by the defendant’s vehicle. The driver did not stop at the time, but she eventually turned herself in several days after the accident.

Life changing injuries

As a consequence of the collision, our client was violently knocked from street level to the bottom of the chamber, several feet below. As a result of being struck by the manhole cover, he sustained such serious arm injuries that he eventually underwent a surgical amputation of his right arm just below his shoulder. Despite the amputation of his arm, he continued to suffer with significant phantom limb pain, which meant that he could still feel sensation and pain in the arm which had been amputated. He also sustained a traumatic brain injury which included a subarachnoid haemorrhage and suffered with psychological injuries, resulting in a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

As a result of his injuries, our client was unable to perform his role as an operations manager and his ability to find work in the future was limited. Although he was able to continue living in his apartment with his partner, significant changes were required in order to allow him to return to an independent lifestyle.

Seeking expert advice

Our client approached Shoosmiths nearly two years after the accident, looking to secure expert legal advice in order to assist him in bringing a personal injury claim for the life changing injuries he had suffered. Understandably, his initial priority had been seeking rehabilitation and treatment for his injuries and by the time he approached Shoosmiths he had already made progress in investigating prosthetics and treatment to aid his recovery.

Kate Price-Marson, senior associate from Shoosmiths specialising in serious personal injury claims comments:

"We were able to meet with him in person and talk through the details of his claim in a clear and straightforward way. We set about obtaining expert medical evidence to demonstrate the extent of his injuries as a result of the accident and the effect that these would have on him in the future. It was also important that we fully investigated the circumstances of the accident. This involved taking detailed witness evidence, obtaining CCTV footage, and considering accident reconstruction evidence."

Complex liability investigations

Despite the accident circumstances, the defendant driver did not admit liability for the accident, and instead alleged that our client was responsible for his injury. It became necessary for us to issue Court Proceedings as we were approaching the expiry of the limitation date for the claim (three years from the date of the accident).

The defendant driver continued to deny liability for the accident and brought in our client’s employers as a co-defendant (a Part 20 Defendant) alleging that there should have been further warning signs in place and that the employer should bear some responsibility for the accident.

Significant settlement achieved

Both defendants subsequently agreed to attend a Joint Settlement Meeting to discuss the issue of liability. Our client was keen to try and resolve the case without the need for further court proceedings.  As this was arranged whilst COVID restrictions were still in place, the Joint Settlement Meeting was held exclusively by video conferencing, allowing all parties to discuss the issues in a virtual roundtable setting, without having to meet in person.

At the meeting, which lasted nearly a full day, the defendants eventually agreed to settle the claim for a substantial sum. We were pleased to have been able to settle the claim within two years of the client instructing us, and for a sum which will not only compensate him for his injuries, but also allow him to fund the prosthetics he requires, secure adaptations to his home, and support his vocational re-training.

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