Mike* sustained a paraplegic spinal cord injury in an accident at work, when a tipper truck he was operating fell onto its side due to the load being unevenly loaded and not emptying when he released it. The resulting jolt and impact of the HGV overturning shunted him sideways in his seat, trapping Mike in the HGV cab and ending in a fractured pelvis and a compression injury to his spinal cord. There were many complicated issues in the case. The defendants denied liability from the outset, and we had complicated aspects to consider around how much Mike’s claim was worth, including considering complex care, accommodation and future equipment needs. With perseverance and a determination to establish what happened, we settled the claim for £5 million which has provided Mike with a level of financial security now and into the future.
When we first spoke with Mike there was confusion surrounding his discharge from the spinal injury centre. Mike had complex care requirements and we had to find somewhere he could be safely discharged too. Unfortunately, where Mike lived pre-injury was not now suitable for him as a wheelchair user.
- Mike has very complex needs and requires specialist equipment and consideration of his surroundings due to his pre-injury weight.
- The defendants denied liability (they said that Mike’s employer was not to blame for the accident).
- They also claimed that Mike had not been wearing a seat belt, so he was partly at fault for his injuries and that the ground where he tipped was sloping and he should have seen this.
How we helped
The defendants denied they were at fault for the accident and in the early stage, they refused to release an interim payment (funds an injured person can, in some circumstances, receive while their case is ongoing to pay for care and rehabilitation, as well as help in the event someone is in financial difficulties).
- The defendants were refusing to fund any care or rehabilitation, so we issued court proceedings very early on in the case. We secured a date for a liability trial (a case at court where a judge decides who is at fault for an accident).
- With the lack of funding, our rehabilitation and support coordinators supported Mike and advocated on his behalf at meetings with his wider treating team. This helped to secure Mike some statutory (NHS) funding for a place at a specialist neuro-rehabilitation unit when he was discharged from the spinal injury centre where he was having some hospital rehabilitation.
- Our rehabilitation and support coordinators also worked tirelessly alongside social services and the local authority to make sure there was an appropriate care package in place for Mike, and to find a bungalow that was then adapted for him to live in.
- Alongside this, we eventually managed to agree a small interim payment from the defendants, so we could hire a powered wheelchair which was appropriate for Mike’s needs, as well as fund some regular private physiotherapy at his home and some case management input.
- We also commissioned two expert reports; one which showed that even though Mike was not wearing a seat belt, this did not cause his injuries or make them any worse and the other that showed that Mike would not have been able to see the sloping ground from his raised position in his HGV cab.
Results and outcome
Mike’s claim settled at a Joint Settlement Meeting for £5 million, two weeks before the liability trial was due to go ahead.
This was a great relief to Mike and meant he would not have to give evidence at court.
- This compensation has allowed Mike to look at purchasing a house to adapt for his requirements as a wheelchair user, with open plan living, ramps and wet-room shower facility.
- He has bought a WAV, a wheelchair accessible vehicle so he can get out and about and visit friends and family.
- Mike is looking at redeveloping land attached to his new home and open a caravan and car storage facility to bring in an income.
- Importantly, Mike is now looking to the future with confidence. He has options and funds to pay for the care he needs and the equipment that will make a real difference to his quality of life.
*not his real name