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Fork-lift truck driver gets compensation following ‘untraced’ road traffic accident

Minster Law

In April 2015, our client, who was 61 at the time, was involved in a road traffic accident, resulting in a significant open fracture of his right ankle.  The bone was fractured in eight separate places, and he was fortunate not to lose his leg during surgery.

Unfortunately, following the third party was untraced and the case progressed via the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) under the Untraced Driver’s Agreement

Following surgery to pin his ankle, our client unfortunately had a fall, after becoming unsteady on his crutches.  The screws broke meaning he needed further fixation surgery.  Whilst the fractures were healing, the metalwork remained in place, although he was left with some ongoing symptoms and continued to require the use of walking sticks in the long term.

As well as dealing with his physical injuries, our client was also suffering from mild post-traumatic stress disorder, an exacerbation of his pre-existing depressive condition, contributed to by divorce and homelessness.

When taking on the case, our priority was the health of our client.

Physiotherapy was arranged to assist him alongside Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and pain management treatment, organised via the provisions of the NHS.

We were also acutely aware that he suffered from dyslexia (although this had never been formally diagnosed), and we ensured he was able to get the assistance he needed in dealing with his claim.

Our client had historically worked as a lorry driver, until a pre-existing knee injury had required him to undergo a total knee replacement. He then obtained work as a forklift truck driver, which he was able to manage comfortably.

But then following the accident he was unable to return to his job and in December 2015, he was made redundant when the company that he worked for was taken over. He received statutory sick pay for six months following the accident.

Driving was the only form of work that he had ever done, and he found it impossible to obtain alternative employment suffering significant loss of earnings as a result.

Our client subsequently received benefits, which the Compensation Recovery Unit (CRU) wished to recoup.

Due to a combination of his physical injuries and psychological injuries (significantly worsened by his inability to work), his psychological condition deteriorated to the extent that he had to be prevented from attempting suicide by his partner.

Liability was admitted by the MIB, although no admissions were made in respect of causation.

There were numerous issues in this case.

The first consideration was whether our client’s fall following his first operation in July 2015 “broke the chain of causation”. It was felt that, because the fall occurred due to his use of crutches and the inherent instability in his leg, this further injury flowed from the initial injuries, and causation therefore would be established.

The second issue is one of causation. Our client had a very significant medical history including depression, obesity, diabetes, fibromyalgia, and had undergone a total knee replacement. Causation in respect of his ongoing losses was bound to be in issue.

With regard to his loss of earnings, his redundancy was clearly unrelated to the accident, but the question arose as to what work our client may have been able to obtain, given his age and pre-existing medical issues, had this accident not occurred.

Similarly, he required long term care from his partner, but again causation in respect of this care would be in dispute, given his medical history.

A further significant issue was that the Compensation Recovery Unit wished to recoup benefits totalling £73,418 from his damages, in respect of the loss of earnings and unpaid care elements of his claim. Even if our client were to succeed substantively in establishing causation in respect of these parts of his claim, the amount of damages that he would recover would be subsumed, either wholly or substantially, by this recoupment.

Ultimately, Paul Childs at Minster Law was able to secure an offer from the MIB of £80,000 net of the CRU recoupment of £73,418, equating to a gross offer of £153,418 in settlement of our client’s claim.

The amount of damages equated to a settlement of his claim on a “best case scenario” and meant that he received an appropriate amount of compensation, without having to repay the benefits received since the accident to the CRU.

He was extremely happy with this offer and for the financial security that this provided to him, and he was extremely grateful for the help received from Minster Law.