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Accident victim receives four times initial damages offer after seeking advice
A young woman who developed complex regional pain syndrome after she was injured in a head-on collision has received £150,000 in an out of court settlement – more than four times the amount she was offered by defendant insurers to settle the claim early.
Joanna Bailey, a serious injuries specialist at Fentons Solicitors LLP, said the woman in her 30s was lucky to survive the incident. “Although liability for the collision was admitted early on in the claim, the defendant’s insurers made an offer to settle in full for just £35,000,” said Joanna. “Despite my client being diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome, the same insurers refused to even acknowledge our repeated requests for interim payments to assist with her rehabilitation.”
Joanna explained that her client had been travelling as a front-seat passenger in a car which collided head-on with an oncoming vehicle, when the driver pulled out to overtake a horsebox he had been following for some time. “The combined speed of the vehicles at the point of collision was more than 100mph,” she added. “Both cars were completely written off and my client suffered very severe injuries - despite the fact that she was wearing her seatbelt at the time.”
After she was cut from the wreckage, the woman was airlifted to hospital where over the next 10 days she was treated for a catalogue of injuries including extensive internal bleeding, a dislocated ankle, ruptured tendons and ligaments in her foot, a dislocated sternum and a bruised liver.
“My client was discharged from hospital with her leg in a cast,” said Joanna. “Over the next six months she used a wheelchair and relied on her family and friends for assistance in almost every aspect of her day-to-day life. When her cast was removed and she no longer needed her wheelchair, she then required a walking stick for a further nine months.”
As a direct consequence of her injuries, the woman unfortunately developed complex regional pain syndrome and over the next 18 months she underwent weekly physiotherapy. Despite extensive treatment, she suffered with daily pain and was left unable to climb stairs or walk without limping. In addition, her injured foot became discoloured and hypersensitive to the cold and she suffered frequent shooting pains in her leg which prevented her from sleeping.
“My client is a busy self-employed woman,” said Joanna. “The pain and lack of mobility she suffered following her accident unfortunately meant her ability to do much of her work was severely compromised and as a result, she lost numerous commissions as well as an untold number of potential clients.
“My client’s range of ankle movement remains limited and she continues to receive treatment for her ongoing complex regional pain syndrome,” said Joanna. “Although she is now able to do much more than before in terms of her normal daily routine, she continues to walk with a limp, she cannot easily climb stairs or carry anything heavy, and the damage to her ankle means she is at significant risk of developing post-traumatic degenerative osteoarthritis in the future.”
Joanna said the case served to warn all accident victims that settling their claim early and without seeking specialist legal advice could leave them at risk of accepting an inappropriately low amount.
“Without seeking advice from an experienced personal injury lawyer, this woman might have accepted an offer of damages which did not take into account all of the various losses she had endured as a result of her injuries,” said Joanna. “All too often we hear from clients such as this, who have been made a low initial offer in the hope that they will settle early and save the insurance companies from paying a level of compensation that reflects the seriousness of their injury and the impact it has had on their lives.
“I’m delighted that my client saw fit to seek out specialist legal advice, and we were able to obtain for her more than four times the derisory amount she was first offered.”
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