Victory at last for Wigan woman who lost leg when hit by car

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Victory at last for Wigan woman who lost leg when hit by car

7th November 2012

A Wigan woman who lost a leg after she was hit by a car more than five years ago has finally received substantial compensation.

Lisa Eagleton has fought a five-year legal battle to secure the damages she needed to help her move on with her life following the devastating incident in February 2007. Following the settlement of her case, Lisa said she is now hoping to be able to buy her own specially-modified home as she continues the process of rebuilding her life.

“It was late on a Sunday morning and I was out walking my two dogs along Darlington Street in Wigan when the accident happened,” said Lisa, 38, a former supermarket manager who lived in Worsley Mesnes at the time of the incident. “There was a football match on that day and there was a lot of traffic around. I was walking my poodles - Flossy and Magic - on the lead just behind me, and we had to cross the road on our way to see a friend.”

Lisa said she made her way to the island in the middle of the road, where she and her dogs again waited for a break in the traffic. “I looked left, right and ahead. When I looked right there was nothing coming,” she said. “I looked down to call to the dogs to make them follow me, as they needed that prompt, and then continued to cross. I’d only taken a few steps when I was hit on my right side.

“I heard the dogs yelping and my first thought was that my dogs had been hit. I tried to stand up but realised I couldn’t. I realised I’d been hit.”

Lisa was taken by ambulance to the Wigan Royal Infirmary, where she received treatment for a badly broken right leg, a broken nose and severe facial bruising. However it was the injury to her leg that proved to be much worse than first thought, and despite doctors’ best efforts she developed a number of problems and infections. “I had two operations in quick succession on my leg, which was largely because the bone had come through the skin,” she said. I had to have metal rods inserted into my leg and my ankle was pinned and plated.

“I was suffering intense pain,” said Lisa. “It just didn’t seem to be improving. After what seemed like a very long time, I was eventually able to get out of bed, although only with a lot of help with the transfer into a wheelchair. The physiotherapist managed to get me standing on crutches and the aim of the hospital staff was to get to a point where I could climb the stairs so that I could go home.”

When she was finally discharged from hospital, Lisa said her leg injury just did not improve. “At the time my daughters were 11, 7, 4 and 3, so ‘taking it easy’ was not really an option,” she said. “I had lots of support from friends and family, but the pain was still excruciating, I was on a lot of medication and it was obvious that the leg wasn’t healing properly.”

Lisa underwent a total of 21 surgeries over the months that followed. Six months after the accident she had a partial amputation, during which surgeons removed a part of her leg bone in order to allow them to fit an Ilizarov frame – a metal framework brace that supports the limb in an effort to aid healing. But when her leg continued to deteriorate, doctors finally decided the only course of action was to amputate below the knee. It was just over 18 months after the incident.

“When theyexplained to me that I should have the infected part of the tibia and fibula amputatedI was devastated, obviously,” she said. “The appointment left me in complete shock and emotionally I fell to pieces as a result.”

Lisa had the operation in November 2008, and returned home shortly afterwards. “I got a wheelchair from a charity, to help me get around,” she said. “I asked the council to install a ramp but I was told it would take six months, and I also asked for a bath lift, booster seat for the toilet, perching seat for the kitchen and a tea trolley. I was clearly going to need a lot of help and adaptations to the house.”

As she tried to start rebuilding her life, Lisa was using her benefit payments to help fund some of the extra care and services she was receiving. Martin James, a serious injuries specialist with Fentons Solicitors LLP, represented Lisa in her fight for compensation against the insurer of the driver who had hit her.

“Before her injury, Lisa had been a very active woman,” said Martin, a partner with the firm. “She worked, exercised regularly and was kept very busy looking after her four children. But her life was changed forever when she was hit by that car.

“Ever since the incident, the driver’s insurer had refused to admit liability for Lisa’s injuries,” said Martin. “They suggested that she had stepped out from the traffic island in front of the driver and was therefore responsible. Ultimately, we were forced to go to trial to prove this was not the case.”

But Martin said just a week before the trial, in May 2011, the defendant made an offer to split the liability between the driver and Lisa. “They offered to agree their client was 30% liable for the incident, leaving Lisa with 70% of the responsibility,” he said. “This was unacceptable. Lisa has been through a horrific ordeal, both with the aftermath of the injury and the subsequent loss of her leg. She has shown tremendous courage and character, returning to study for a new career and also working as a volunteer to help others who have been injured in such a way.

“As any liability agreement has an impact on what proportion of damages a victim receives, we felt that the defendant’s offer did not reflect the extent of what we believe to be the driver’s negligence. On the second day of the trial, we successfully renegotiated so that Lisa was only held 55% responsible.”

Following the agreement on liability last year, further negotiations then determined the level of compensation Lisa would receive. “We secured £90,000 in interim payments which immediately helped fund a new prosthetic leg for Lisa, and also pay for some of the case management and support worker assistance that she had received since the incident, as well as funding specialist rehabilitation care through Pace,” he said. “We then settled the case for a gross sum which, when the liability was taken into account, means that Lisa received substantial damages.”

Martin said that Lisa’s claim for compensation would help her to meet the financial burden of her future care and treatment and securing help in looking after her children.

“While no amount of money can make up for what she has been through, we hope that she and her family will now be able to move on with their lives, safe in the knowledge that she does not need to worry about paying for her own future care and treatment.”

Lisa said she was delighted to finally be able to draw a line under this chapter in her life. She is now trying to secure part-time work as a model, as well as undertaking volunteer work locally helping other amputees.

 “My life changed forever that day,” she said. “Not only have I had to endure more than five years of physical pain, operations and rehabilitation, but the psychological impact of dealing with this whilst being a full time mum to four children has taken its toll. I’ve had massive bills to pay and huge expenses – such as for specialist medical care, bespoke prosthetics and adapting our home – and have had to endure worries over how I was going to pay for it all.

“Throughout it all my children have been incredible,” she said. “They have had to deal with everything I’ve been through, and have been amazing in helping me with everything from getting around and doing housework, to making sure that each one of us is fed and washed and dressed. It has been as big an ordeal for them as it has for me, and I’m so pleased we’re now seeing some light at the end of the tunnel.

“This settlement finally ends my fight to secure my future and that of my children,” said Lisa, “and I am just thrilled that it is finally over.”

How can Fentons Solicitors help?
Fentons Solicitors is experienced in handling claims relating to all types of  serious injury and has a specialist department experienced in handling claims involving catastrophic injuries and amputations.

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.