Compensation for artist after career cut short by road collision

How can we help you?

Your enquiry will be reviewed with no obligation.

Compensation for artist after career cut short by road collision

15th September 2011

A Bradford woman whose burgeoning career as an artist was cut short by a car accident has received £30,000 in compensation.

The Queensbury woman was seriously injured when a car drove into the back of her in March 2008. Initially told she was suffering from ‘simple whiplash’, the pain in her neck and back became so severe that she was unable to continue with her artwork.

“I was 53 when the accident happened, and had only been working full-time as an artist for around 18 months,” said the woman, now 57. “Before that I’d been a tutor at Bradford College, teaching English to foreign students, but in September 2006 I decided to become a professional artist. I specialised in pastel Irish landscapes.”

The artist enjoyed a dream start to her new career, and in her first year as a professional managed to obtain representation with four galleries in Ireland - two of which invited her to show her work in group exhibitions. “I was part of an exhibition at Ross Fine Art in January 2008 and sold six pieces that evening,” she said. “The event was so successful that I was offered a solo exhibition, scheduled for late 2008.”

But then on 5 March, as she was driving at the junction of Beacon Road and Cooper Lane, a car crashed into the back of her vehicle. “I felt a sudden jolt and then a pain in the back of my head,” she said. “The force of the impact threw my head against the headrest, and a large plastic hairclip I was wearing shattered and dug into my scalp.

“I was in pain all that night, with a raging headache and a stiff neck. I started to have severe tremors that evening and as the night wore on the pain in my head moved to my neck and lower back. I began to struggle to move without it hurting,” she said.

As a result of her injuries, she was unable to hold her own exhibition in 2008 and it was rescheduled for January 2009. But when her pain left her unable to work, the exhibition had to be cancelled again.

Her insurance company immediately put her in touch with a lawyer, but they told her she would be unlikely to claim for the ‘loss of chance’ to pursue her career.

“My husband did some research and came across a successful ‘loss of chance’ claim by a Manchester United player who sustained an injury which ended his career,” she said. “He contacted the lawyers for Manchester United and they recommended Fentons Solicitors LLP to take over my case.”

Damian Bradley, a serious injury specialist with Fentons, said when he first met the artist she was clearly struggling with her injuries. “Her previous lawyer had not tried to get the appropriate medical reports, so as soon as we had her properly assessed we could show that her injuries had an impact on her future as an artist,” said Mr Bradley.

He said that despite undergoing physiotherapy treatment, the woman still suffers from lower back pain which is brought on by certain activities such as lifting or when she sits in certain positions.

“Although she attempted to resume her artwork, her trademark technique involves a detailed laborious tonal rubbing,” said Mr Bradley. “Because of her injuries she is now unable to use this technique. She also suffers from residual neck pain, made worse whenever she turns her head to refer to photographs mounted at the side of her easel, which has an enormous impact on her ability to work.”

Mr Bradley said that had the solo exhibition gone ahead in 2008, the artist would likely have sold some 20 pieces of artwork at an average price of 650 Euros. “She had a significant chance of selling more pieces in 2008, but she was left unable to generate fresh artwork specifically tailored to the gallery’s requirement for pastels of Northern Ireland,” he said. “The accident prevented her from meeting the demand for her work at the time, and there’s a very real possibility her moment may have passed and she may not generate the same interest as she did when she initially emerged onto the art scene.

“Following the defendant’s admission of liability for the accident we were able to demonstrate this impact on my client, securing £23,000 for the ‘loss of chance’ to pursue her burgeoning career,” he said. “Although no sum of money can make up for robbing her of the ability to pursue her artistic endeavours, we hope that this settlement will be of some comfort as she moves on with her life.”

How can Fentons Solicitors help?
Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for individuals injured in road traffic accidents.

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.