£2.75m settlement for brain injury victim

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£2.75m settlement for brain injury victim

14th January 2011

A young woman who was left with significant brain injuries after being hit by a van has been awarded £2.75m in an out of court settlement.

The multi-lingual, well-travelled and highly intelligent young woman had been out with friends when the incident occurred in London in 2006. Katie Pendower, a partner with Fentons Solicitors LLP, represented the victim.

"As my client walked along as part of a group, a Ford Escort van driven by the defendant mounted the pavement, hit a lamp post and collided with her," she said. "Paramedics evaluated her at the scene and she achieved a score of 3/15 on the Glasgow Coma Scale, indicating she was in a deep coma. She was rushed by ambulance to King's College Hospital where she received treatment for a fracture of the left humerus and tibia, and a traumatic brain injury."

Katie said that the woman had suffered right frontal and temporal lobe contusions, and a subarachnoid bleed. "She underwent surgery which included removing part of her skull in order to remove the damaged brain tissue," she said. "She was discharged from hospital a full month after the injuries were sustained. Still in a confused state and suffering from post-traumatic amnesia, she returned to her native Sweden to be cared for by her mother."

Katie explained that although the defendant had admitted liability and settlement negotiations had begun, a major issue was the fact that the claimant had undergone substantial personality changes, which affected her capacity to make decisions and earn in the future. This point was contested by the defendant.

"We successfully secured a first interim payment of £25,000, and in addition to this the defendants paid for our client to enter a residential rehabilitation centre," said Katie. "This was a planned 26-week residential, scheduled to be followed by a 12 week outreach programme and a full year of remote support."

The interim payment had been paid into a Personal Injury Trust, of which the client's friends were trustees. However, as is often the case where damage has been sustained to the frontal lobe, the client underwent personality changes which led to impulsive behaviour. "After only a short time, she had frittered the interim payment away," said Katie. "She left the rehabilitation centre and moved in with a friend, before deciding to return to her native Sweden."

After the young woman returned to the UK again, Katie secured a second interim payment to enable her client to rent accommodation, and Natasha Molloy, Head of the Court of Protection department at Fentons, was appointed professional deputy to oversee and manage the client's finances.

"Prior to the incident, my client had worked as a cashier with a bank," said Katie. "She had been earmarked for promotion to the position of Mortgage Advisor and was looking forward to furthering her career with the bank. Following her injuries, she returned to work on a part-time, trial basis. Her changed behaviour led to her becoming confused, ill-tempered or even rude with customers, and she was unable to carry out her duties effectively. She left the role, and her continued impulsive behaviour and poor memory mean she is unable to work."

Katie said that the client then gave birth to her first child. Due to her poor memory and becoming easily distracted - as well as suffering the common brain injury symptom of lengthy bouts of sleep - it was immediately apparent that a nanny was needed to provide help in the home.

"We entered into lengthy discussions with the defendant's solicitors involving proposal and counter-offer," said Katie. "The main area of dispute was how much help my client needed with her daughter and subsequent children, and how much help she needed for herself. There was also dispute over accommodation, with it being evident that she would need a bigger house because she will need room to accommodate a live-in nanny."

Therapy and professional deputy costs were also discussed and negotiated, together with debate over the need for periodic payments, index-linked payments and lump sum values.

The final settlement was agreed, in the amount of £2.75m, less interim payments of more than £135,000, which did not include the cost of the residential rehabilitation. The settlement was approved by the Court on 8 December 2010.

"No amount of money can turn back the clock for my client, allowing her to live the independent life she so embraced before this injury," said Katie. "However, this settlement ensures that she and her family are now able to face the future, safe in the knowledge that they can provide all the necessary care and rehabilitation they will need in the years to come."

How can Fentons Solicitors help?

Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for victims of serious head and brain injuries.

If you think that you have a case or require further information contact Fentons on 0800 0191 297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.