Injured Stevenage pensioner wins 18 month fight for justice

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Injured Stevenage pensioner wins 18 month fight for justice

20th May 2013

A Stevenage pensioner who had to have a metal plate and pins inserted into her arm and wrist after she tripped on a four inch wide hole in the pavement, has received £15,000 in compensation.

Pauline Miller, 77, had just been to visit her severely disabled daughter Annette - who is virtually paralysed and is looked after at a care home in Hitchin - and was making her way to catch the bus home to Stevenage, when the incident occurred in August 2011.

“I was walking along Brand Street in Hitchin at around 7pm when my right foot became caught in a hole in the pavement and I was flung forwards,” said the mother-of-two of Hopton Road. “The hole looked like it had been made to hold a metal post for some kind of street sign, but the post had been removed and no-one had bothered to fill the hole in.

“When I fell I landed really heavily on my left side,” she added. “At first I was in shock and didn’t even realise I’d been hurt. Luckily a car stopped beside me and two young girls got out and helped me. Someone from the takeaway across the road also came out and looked after me until the ambulance arrived.”

Mrs Miller was taken to the Lister Hospital in Stevenage where x-rays revealed she had suffered numerous fractures to her left forearm and dislocated her left wrist. Later that night, she was transferred to the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital at Welwyn Garden City where she underwent reconstructive surgery to have a metal plate and pins inserted into her broken arm.

“I was sent home three days later with my arm and wrist in a cast,” said Mrs Miller. “My arm, shoulder and wrist were extremely painful after the accident and I was told to keep my arm raised as much as possible. This was really difficult as it meant I couldn’t dress or bathe in the usual way. Fortunately, my other daughter Paulette, who also lives in Stevenage, was able to come round and help. She did a wonderful job of looking after me.”

Mrs Miller said the worst thing about her injuries was the fact that she couldn’t go and visit her daughter Annette. “Not being able to go and spend time with Annette, who suffers from severe multiple sclerosis, was really upsetting,” she said. “It caused me a lot of heartache as I was so keen to go over and see her in the weeks after the accident but I was in so much pain I just couldn’t make the trip.”

Michael Hagan, a personal injury lawyer at Fentons Solicitors LLP, represented Mrs Miller. “Pauline still suffers with pain and stiffness in her shoulder and arm, and the grip in her left hand remains weak,” he said. “Doctors have said her arm will never be as it was and Pauline herself has said it often feels detached from her body, as if her arm no longer even belongs to her.

“We’re all far too familiar with headlines about ‘compensation culture’, and stories of people making compensation claims after falling over their own feet, but the amount of pain and suffering Pauline was subjected to is beyond question,” he added. “The unfilled hole in the pavement was clearly dangerous, the very definition of an ‘accident waiting to happen’.”

Mr Hagan said Hertfordshire County Council, which is responsible for the maintenance of the pavement, acknowledged this fact and admitted liability. “We are pleased to hear that, following her victory, Pauline is on the mend and plans to take her disabled daughter on what we hope will be a truly memorable holiday.”

Mrs Miller said it had been a whirlwind past few months which had thankfully culminated in her winning what has been a long and painful 18 month fight for justice.

“Although my fall really knocked my confidence and caused me months of pain, I now plan to treat Annette to a holiday at a specialist hotel for disabled people in Norfolk later this year.”

Read more: The Comet