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Case Summary: S (by Litigation Friend) v U - Helen Reynolds, Spencers Solicitors


24/10/19. Case Name: S (by Litigation Friend) v U

Accident Date: 6th June 2014

Settlement Date: 20th May 2019 (approval hearing)

TOTAL GROSS SETTLEMENT: Provisional Damages award of a Lump Sum of £3,500,000 (Gross), with a reduction of 5% contributory negligence, interim payments and CRU giving a total (Net) settlement of £2,947,147.98.

Background

The Claimant (aged 17 at the time) suffered catastrophic injuries in a road traffic accident. He was a front seat passenger in a car driven by his friend, the Defendant. The Claimant suffered life changing injuries including a severe traumatic brain injury, serious orthopaedic injuries and psychological injury.

At the time of the accident the Claimant was studying at college and working part time.

Liability

The Claimant was a passenger in the Defendant's vehicle. The Defendant lost control of his car going downhill as he approached a bend and veered into the path of an oncoming vehicle. The Claimant took the full brunt of the impact, to the nearside of the vehicle. The Claimant was taken to hospital and put into an induced coma and had to undergo an emergency craniotomy.

The Defendant was found guilty of driving a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs.

Primary liability was admitted.

The Defendant alleged contributory negligence based on 1) the Claimant's alleged failure to wear a seatbelt and 2) for travelling in the Defendant's car whilst he was under the influence of drugs.

The allegations were denied and Defendant conceded the seatbelt point. Subsequently a 5% contributory negligence was agreed between the parties.

Quantum

As a result of the accident the Claimant suffered a severe traumatic brain injury. In addition, he suffered a left elbow fracture which required open reduction and internal fixation. He has since gone on to develop post traumatic osteoarthritis in his elbow.

He also sustained fractured ribs, a ruptured spleen, torn liver, punctured lungs and a shattered pelvis requiring titanium bolts.

The Claimant suffered a rupture of the urethra and developed urethral stricture. A suprapubic catheter was in situ for 12 months before he had to undergo a bulboprostatic anastomotic urethroplasty in March 2015.

The Claimant received pain management treatment with minimal success and in October 2018 he commenced a trial of CBD Oil which showed some success in that he reported a reduction in pain and stiffness. Expert evidence confirms his ongoing pain will remain permanent.

The Claimant suffered psychological injury in the form of PTSD and depression.

As a result of his brain injury he suffered problems with his memory and concentration, headaches, lack of motivation, fatigue, mood swings, anger and change in personality. He required a great deal of care from his parents following the accident and despite many attempts struggled to complete a full day of work in any capacity.

The effect of the injuries means the Claimant is unable to work in a conventional employment setting, live independently or socialise as he had done previously.

The Claimant's expert evidence suggested that the Claimant lacked litigation and financial capacity, hence a litigation friend and deputy were appointed. The Defendant disputed the need for a deputy.

An initial trial of independent living was set up with the help of a Case Manager but failed. Subsequently, a second trial was successful, with increased help of a support worker.

The Claimant had always wanted a career in agriculture work, agricultural engineering or construction. Following the accident, he attempted a number of casual employment positions, but was unsuccessful, due to a combination of his memory, fatigue and pain problems. He also started an apprenticeship however this ended because of interpersonal issues between the Claimant and employer. The Claimant was very keen to find consistent work and struggled to accept being severely compromised on the open labour market and being most likely limited to working within a protected environment because of his brain injury.

At the time of the settlement, the Claimant continued to live independently, with regular visits from his support worker. He had not successful found any gainful or regular employment.

The case was settled as a Provisional Damages Award of a Lump Sum of £3,500,000 Gross. The reserved conditions for the purposes of the Provisional Damages award were for the development of post traumatic epilepsy and the development of dementia. Settlement on this basis allows for the Claimant to return to Court to seek a further award of damages should either of these conditions arise during the rest of his life.

Solicitors for the Claimant: Helen Reynolds, Spencers Solicitors

Solicitors for the Defendant: Simon Curtis, Horwich Farrelly Solicitors

Counsel for the Claimant: Richard Hartley QC and Michael Jones, Cobden House Chambers

Counsel for the Defendant: Jonathan Watt-Pringle QC, Temple Garden Chambers

Image public domain from https://pixabay.com/en/hospital-ward-hospital-medical-room-1338585/

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