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Persistence pays off in substantial settlement to help amputee rebuild his life

Whilst out riding his motorcycle in September 2020, our client, was correctly proceeding along the road when another vehicle, whilst attempting to do a U-turn, suddenly pulled across his path before they collided.

The other driver alleged that he had simply been turning right when our client drove into them.  The defendant insurer disputed liability.

We, the team at Minster Law, gathered as much evidence as possible to bolster the case in relation to liability.  This involved speaking to witnesses, locating CCTV footage from neighbouring properties and visiting the scene of the accident, as well as evaluating all the available police evidence.

As a result of the accident, our client, who was 45 years old at the time suffered multiple serious injuries and following unsuccessful surgical attempts to save his injured leg, underwent an amputation below the knee.

The effects upon his life were dramatic. At the time of the accident, he was employed in a physically demanding role in health and safety compliance which involved a lot of physical duties, and he could now no longer do his job.

Our client also had housing issues following the accident.  He had given notice to end the tenancy on the rental property he had been living in and had arranged to lease a 1st floor studio flat. However, when he left hospital, he was effectively homeless as his things had been moved out of his previous flat and the studio, he had planned to rent was now totally unsuitable for his needs.

He initially went to stay with his then girlfriend. However, sadly, very soon after, the relationship broke down and he had to move out. With nowhere else to go, he had to go and stay with his elderly father (who was disabled himself) in his small one-bedroom bungalow, where he had to sleep on the floor as there was no room for an additional bed or even mattress.

He then got in touch with the council housing office, but despite being told that he was classed as a ‘priority’ due to the amputation – the council were not able to offer anything other than a place in a half-way hostel.  He was advised that if he didn’t accept this place whilst waiting for a suitable one bedroomed property, he would be taken off the housing register altogether.

He couldn’t afford to pay for privately owned accommodation, even in the short term, and again he was told that if he did find somewhere privately that they would no longer be able to house him. He was therefore in a ‘Catch-22’ situation.  He decided to persevere with the wait for a council property rather than ask the third-party insurer to fund private accommodation.

In the event, he ended up living in chaotic hostel accommodation – which was otherwise housing drug addicts, and families in crisis – for some 9 months before being moved into a council owned one bedroomed bungalow.

During this time, we worked hard to support our client as far as we could in practical terms via rehabilitation. We were also able to secure over £34,000 in interim payments from the defendant insurer to alleviate some of the financial pressure.

We quickly arranged for an Immediate Needs Assessment and a case manager was appointed to oversee the client’s day to day rehabilitation and recovery and to assist where possible in his housing situation. Following recommendations, we were able to get privately funded physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, prosthetics, and psychotherapy in place to aid his rehabilitation.

The case manager also made several calls to fight on his behalf to get him in a better position on the housing register as by this stage he was living in the hostel.

Once in his bungalow, we:

  • Arranged to get the property assessed by an occupational therapist to ensure it was entirely suitable for his current and future needs
  • Ensured a plan for adaptations was put in place to make it as tailored as possible to his needs
  • Arranged for him to be seen by a private prosthetics specialist to assist with the sourcing of running blades, a water limb, and a high-definition silicone leg
  • Helped him to trial and purchase a specially adapted bicycle as he was keen to maintain his physical fitness.

Approximately one year after first being instructed in the case, the defendant insurer made an unexpected early offer to settle the claim. Despite not yet having expert medical evidence, with the assistance of one of the country’s leading PI barristers (Stuart McKechnie QC) we were able to provide our client with the best advice available to assist him in making an informed choice about his future and whether to settle the claim.

At this point he was keen to put the accident behind him and move on with his life.

Following negotiations by the lead solicitor on the case, Rebecca Waller, a final settlement of £1.45m was achieved, with private rehabilitation and prosthetics input being paid for in addition.

The size of the settlement gave him security and the ability to make plans to own his own home and continue to focus on his rehabilitation and building a new life.

This case highlights how easily a person’s life can be turned upside down and the rug pulled from beneath their feet. A lot of quick thinking and persistence was required to achieve the result we did and help the client re-build his life.

Whilst it might have been prudent to wait longer to settle his claim, we listened to what our client really wanted – which was to settle sooner rather than later – and then did all that we could to make that happen for him and to achieve the very best settlement available.

Counsel’s view was that our client ended up with a settlement that he may well not have bettered had the matter run on for several more years.

Further, due to the evidence we gathered, we were able to show that the defendant had indeed carried out a U-turn and caused the accident and ultimately therefore no deductions were made by the paying party in relation to liability.

All our clients have or are experiencing some sort of vulnerability, but this client particularly stood out due to the devastating and sudden nature of his injury, the loss of his previous active lifestyle and the desperately unfortunate housing situation. At a time when home stability and space to recuperate was needed the most, he was experiencing an uncertain future and we knew this needed to be resolved as soon as possible.

Every effort was made to support our client to find that stability and ensure that his rehabilitation was not hindered. In addition, we had to deal with and overcome challenging arguments in relation to liability.

It was a real pleasure for our team to assist our client in reaching an excellent settlement, within just over 12 months from being instructed.