I recently settled a case for our client Mr Smith* who sustained life-changing injuries in a road traffic collision in 2018.
Mr Smith was riding his moped along Kennington Lane, in South London near the junction with Vauxhall Street when a motorist travelling from the opposite direction unexpectedly drove into Mr Smith’s path.
Mr Smith could not avoid hitting the vehicle, and because of the impact, he was thrown to the ground, resulting in him sustaining severe bilateral lower limb injuries.
We received instructions from Mr Smith in November 2018 to act on his behalf in pursuing a personal injury claim against the other driver’s insurers.
We swiftly formalised a “letter of claim” to the insurers putting them on notice that we were acting on Mr Smith’s behalf and setting out why we held their driver responsible for the accident.
We also put them on notice that considering Mr Smith’s severe injuries we proposed to obtain a report assessing his immediate rehabilitation needs (which typically will include but are not limited to private physiotherapy, psychological treatment and vocational rehabilitation).
During the next couple of years Mr Smith underwent extensive rehabilitation funded by the insurance company who promptly admitted liability for his accident.
The rehabilitation included private physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, psychological treatment, and gym membership. Mr Smith also benefitted from sessions with a dietician who assisted him in losing weight which he had put on as a direct result of his lack of mobility. I also arranged for Mr Smith to be seen by a “Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist” who assisted him in sourcing work that he would be able to carry out given that following the severity of his life changing injuries, he would no longer be able to undertake heavy manual work, which he did prior to this collision.
I also ensured that Mr Smith was supported financially as he had remained off work, and was unable to return following the incident. We obtained periodical interim payments totalling over £25,000 during his recovery period.
After Mr Smith was sufficiently recovered to enable a prognosis to be given, I obtained medico-legal evidence detailing his injuries. I organised independent medical reports from a trauma and orthopaedic surgeon, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, and a psychologist.
The orthopaedic consultant confirmed that Mr Smith suffered bilateral femoral pain which was likely to be chronic and permanent, particularly on the left side where there had been revision surgery in addition to plating of the fracture. He also confirmed that Mr Smith was expected to have chronic mild to moderate discomfort, and pain in the left femur because of the injury. Similarly on the right side, Mr Smith was also likely to suffer from an element of chronic soft tissue pain.
The plastic surgeon reviewed Mr Smith following the surgeries he had underwent which had left permanent and visible scars. The expert did state that scar revision surgery was possible and might improve the scars, but the results could not be guaranteed and the residual scars might stretch or become hypertrophic once more.
The clinical psychologist confirmed that, because of his injuries, Mr Smith suffered from a persistent “adjustment disorder with mixed anxiety” and depression. This expert recommended that Mr Smith undergo further cognitive behavioural therapy for this.
As per Mr Smith’s instructions I started to negotiate a settlement of his claim.
The insurers initially offered £60,000 in full and final settlement. However, I advised my client that in my experience this was not a true reflection of what Mr Smith was likely to achieve at court given the severity of the injuries and the fact that he had sustained life-changing, serious injuries.
I reverted to the insurers to argue the fact that they had not considered Mr Smith’s claim appropriately or in fact had taken the severity of his multiple injuries seriously. On that basis I indicated that their attempt to settle the claim was not acceptable. After further negotiation the insurers raised their offer to £90,000, but again, given the evidence we had obtained, I considered this offer to be too low.
The insurers then instructed solicitors. After further negotiations I successfully negotiated an offer of just over £135,000. This offer was within the bracket which a court might award, and I advised Mr Smith to accept. He was very pleased with this outcome.
Negotiations at this level require that your solicitor has the experience and knowledge of the law to be able to successfully conclude a matter on your behalf. Lots of firms would advise acceptance of an offer of £60,000, because it sounds like, and indeed is, a lot of money. However I and my team of experts have extensive experience in dealing with circumstances where our clients have suffered life changing injuries.