No Win No Fee solicitors
Serious injury experts
Case handler: Christopher Lecky (Solicitor and Senior associate)
In this case, our client sustained serious injuries when crossing a road and being hit by the Defendant's vehicle. She was almost entirely across the carriageway when a vehicle, driven by the Defendant, collided with our client's right-hand side causing her to be thrown to the ground.
Key elements of our client's case
As a result of the accident, our client sustained a range of serious orthopaedic injuries including a very serious fracture to the top of her left leg bone (near the hip joint) and a moderately serious fracture to her right leg. Both fractures were surgically treated with our client's left leg being fixed with a femoral nail (a rod inserted into the leg to stabilise the fracture) and the right shin bone fracture was plated. Following the surgery, our client suffered from a low haemoglobin count and so was given a blood transfusion.
Where we added value as serious injury specialists
Due to the severity of our client's injuries, we visited our client in hospital to take full instructions and thereafter, on the same day, sent a detailed Letter of Claim to the Defendant setting out our detailed allegations of negligence.
The Defendant's Insurer responded to advise that they would not be a position to comment on liability until they had the police report to hand. We therefore wrote to the Police inviting them to disclose the police report at the earliest opportunity.
In the interim, our client was discharged from the major trauma unit to a rehabilitation unit to continue her recovery.
Due to the severity of our client's injuries and the potential need for specialist co-ordinated rehabilitation treatment, we invited the Defendant to agree the appointment of a rehabilitation case manager on a without prejudice basis to undertake an Immediate Needs Assessment (a report which details the extent of the injuries sustained, likely treatments and recommendations to be taken forward in the immediate future). The Defendant responded advising that they were prepared to agree to the instruction of a case manager but funding would be by way of general interim payments on condition that the rehabilitation assessment and subsequent reports were shared. The Defendant Insurer's subsequently made an interim payment for a modest four figure sum.
Our client then advised that there had been a setback in her recovery and that she had been re-admitted to hospital as the metal work in her leg had failed and she required a total hip replacement as a result. The instruction of the case manager was therefore delayed whilst our client underwent the surgical procedure.
Following the surgery, we sent instructions for an Immediate Needs Assessment to an independent rehabilitation company which was later received and shared with our client and the Defendant's Insurer as agreed. Based upon the contents of the report, we invited a further four figure interim payment to fund the recommendations made.
The Defendant then wrote to advise that primary liability (that the main cause of the accident was due to the actions of their policyholder) was admitted but potential arguments on whether our client had contributed in some way to the accident and related injuries could not be resolved until they had sight of the police report. The Defendant Insurers also suggested that this was not a case where case management was required and, based upon the evidence available, they were willing to settle our client's claim for a modest five figure sum.
The offer was carefully considered, which was difficult given the limited evidence available at that point. Whilst our client's recovery was progressing, it was deemed premature to consider settlement of her case and as such, the Defendant's offer was rejected. Our client was also advised that she had a strong case for recovery of any costs incurred by instructing a case manager and she as advised to proceed with their input.
The offer was formally rejected and pressure maintained on the Defendant in respect of liability. This resulted in liability being admitted in full. At the same time, we secured release of a further interim payment for a four figure sum which allowed instructions to a case manager to proceed.
It was clear that we would require expert evidence to advise on the longer term implications of our client's injuries generally and specifically on the risks of further surgery, ongoing pain and mobility issues and arthritis. We therefore evaluated who would be the best experts to instruct and requested full medical records to support the expert's understanding of the injuries.
We arranged instructions to a specialist hip and lower limb Consultant Orthopaedic Trauma Surgeon and a medical appointment was scheduled. The medical report was later received which confirmed the severity of the injuries our client had sustained. It was confirmed that the accident had left her less mobile and with a leg length discrepancy (left leg being 1.5cm shorter).
Regarding the right leg fracture, it was confirmed that the same had united but that our client was already developing arthritic changes and would certainly require removal of the plate that had been inserted to stabilise the shin bone fracture. Consideration also needed to be given to a knee osteotomy (either the tibia (shinbone) or femur (thighbone) is cut and then reshaped to relieve pressure on the knee joint).
We provided the Defendant with an update detailing the ongoing symptoms and notified the as Case Manager of the need to support the client to explore options for private surgery.
The Defendant responded by making an offer of settlement for a significant five figure sum, vastly improving upon their original offer.
After careful consideration of the Defendant's offer, we responded rejecting the same. We provided the Defendant with a copy of the report of Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon on a without prejudice basis to aid in settlement negotiations.
The Defendant later responded with another significantly increased, conditional offer whilst at the same time making a 'time limited' offer on the same day for a sum some £10,000 higher than the conditional offer.
After reviewing matters with the client and taking her instructions, she confirmed she wished to accept the time limited offer and the case was brought to a successful conclusion.
This case demonstrates that it is always important that we base our advice on the evidence to hand and not be tempted to accept early, albeit sometimes attractive, offers.