The Moore Barlow serious personal injury team recently settled a severe brain injury case, arising out of a road traffic collision, which occurred when our client was a teenager. Settlement was agreed on a provisional damages’ basis, with a lump sum of £6,000,000 which was recently approved by a High Court Judge in the High Court of Justice in London.
This settlement, on a difficult and evidentially complicated case, was achieved using leading experts, a specialist Brain Injury Case Manager: Laura Myers, Counsel: Elizabeth-Anne Gumbel KC of 1 Crown Office Row, and collaborative working between Moore Barlow’s personal injury litigation and court of protection teams.
The Moore Barlow team involved
- Damian Horan (Partner, Litigation and Deputy)
- Fadwa Errhioui (Partner – Litigation)
- Niamh Hills (Associate – Litigation)
Our client, a teenage girl at the time, was aspiring to become a nurse. On the night of the accident, she was a front-seat passenger in a van, when the driver lost control of the vehicle colliding first with a lamp post, and then a tree.
Unfortunately, our client suffered a very severe traumatic brain injury consistent with Grade 1 traumatic axonal injury and additional right frontal intra-parenchymal haemorrhagic contusions.
She initially had an intracranial pressure bolt inserted by neurosurgeons. In addition to the brain injury, our client suffered a whiplash type injury to her neck and upper back. She also had impaired vision in her left eye and has bladder difficulties with urinary urgency and frequency. Further she has suffered dental problems due to misalignment of her jaws following the accident.
The Moore Barlow team were able to secure an early admission of primary liability, which vitally enabled us to secure funding for rehabilitation and case management to support a trial of independent living. In addition, our client was supported by our deputyship team, due to her lack of capacity resulting from her injuries.
After initial hospital treatment, and despite specialist brain injury rehabilitation input, our client continued to suffer from a range of cognitive difficulties, including concentration, information processing, executive function including communication, memory, insight, and judgement.
She suffers irritability and anger episodes, high-level language issues, fatigue, social interaction issues, behavioural issues, and relationship problems. Her personality has substantially changed, and enduring cognitive, behavioural, and emotional problems have resulted.
Developments throughout the duration of the case
In the duration of the litigation process, our client also gave birth to a daughter who unfortunately was severely disabled, requiring additional care. Care of a child with additional needs would present a challenge to any parent but presented an even greater challenge to our client because of her own brain injury and her levels of fatigue.
This additional development meant that expert accommodation evidence was also needed in conjunction with expert care evidence, to ensure that our client could claim for the additional accommodation costs needed to house the support she would require in order to look after her young, disabled daughter.
Working with an experienced, specialist brain injury therapy team comprising of a case manager, neuropsychiatrist, neuro occupational therapist and seeking specialist therapies such as equine therapy, we were able to put in place the right care support package and a trial of independent living to ensure our client was fully supported with all their own additional care needs, together with that of her children.
The rehabilitation package was formulated all with the focus on ensuring as much of our client’s independence was regained and sustained as possible.
The Defendants throughout the claim maintained that our client did not lack capacity to manage her litigation and financial affairs and therefore was not a protected party requiring a deputyship. Their position was that she was able to work and that her claim was that of a modest ‘walking wounded’ brain injured person.
We maintained that our client did not have capacity to manage her own financial affairs. Deputies were appointed, and they continue to manage the client’s financial affairs with the assistance of the Moore Barlow court of protection team.
The Defendant suggested initially, by way of an opening offer that our client’s total claim was only worth £125,000, and that our client would have to accept a 25% deduction for contributory negligence.
The Defendant insurers alleged our client was contributorily negligent for failing to wear a seatbelt. This needed to be investigated through expert accident reconstruction evidence. A specific level of contributory negligence was not agreed as part of the settlement, but contributory negligence of circa 10% was factored into the settlement.
Offers were exchanged throughout the litigation, with the last offer made by the Defendant totalling £1.5 million in 2020. Together with leading Counsel, we advised our client fully on each offer made by the Defendant and that the sums put forward would be too low to provide for her for the rest of her life.
We therefore advised our client that the offers made by the Defendants were too low and that a higher settlement could be achieved at negotiation meeting, known as a JSM (Joint Settlement Meeting).
Given the final settlement amount, had our client accepted an earlier offer, she would not have been able to consider the additional support she would require looking after her young family.
As in all such cases, there was a dispute between the parties regarding the severity of the client’s difficulties and needs. Unique to this case was the additional support required by our client to look after and provide for her disabled daughter.
Our advice was reaffirmed with achieving a provisional damages settlement with a lump sum of £6,000,000 at the end of 2022, 3 weeks ahead of trial, allowing our client to move on with her life with her young family. Given our client’s capacity, approval was sought from, and given by the High Court.
Life after an injury and a personal injury settlement
Our client is now able to move on from the litigation process, safe in the knowledge that they will have funds to meet any additional needs that may arise in the future in terms of care, therapy, equipment, or accommodation.
She will now be able to purchase a property in her desired area, close to her family and support network, together with fulfilling the ambition of taking her young family on holidays, with the support she is now able to fund by way of the settlement.
Our client was signposted to Damian Horan by a leader of a local Headway Group, a network which we actively support to ensure that anyone requiring their services is guided towards expert legal knowledge in the neurotrauma field, should they require it.
It was fantastic to achieve this outcome for our client. It demonstrates the value of using a specialist team of solicitors, Counsel and experts to deliver a result which will provide our client with a secure future whereby her needs and those of her children are met.Damian Horan, Partner, Moore Barlow
This was a particularly complex case with unusual features including the fact that the Claimant herself had a disabled child for which she needed a lot of support as a result of her brain injury. The team at Moore Barlow dealt very sensitively with this and other difficult issues and managed to get permission for an expert to comment on the needs of the disabled child as well as the needs of the Claimant herself. Their careful management and expert handling of the case led to a good settlement in a difficult case.Elizabeth Anne Gumbel, KC of 1 Crown Office Row
How Moore Barlow can help
This case is an example of the high level of work and expertise of our serious personal injury team, and the benefit that can be provided from this level of appropriate legal guidance to those who may be accessing brain injury support services through providers such as Headway.
If you or a family member require expert legal advice as a result of an injury, please contact us today.