On 16 August 2013 a collision occurred on the A14 slip road for Brompton between my clients’ car and a larger car driven by the Defendant. My clients’ car had broken down on the slip road and was parked off the carriageway. Both my clients had exited their car in order to try and fix the problem when, as they were both standing at the front of the car, another vehicle collided with it.
The high-speed impact between the vehicles forced my clients away from their car and down the slip road. Fortunately, they escaped major physical injury in the sense that neither sustained any fractures, but the psychological impact was significant.
I issued proceedings in the High Court and judgment was entered for my clients following a formal admission of liability. The matters in dispute concerned the extent to which their injuries were caused by the accident and the amount of compensation appropriate for these.
The husband sustained multiple lacerations and soft tissue injuries to his face, right hand, left shoulder and elbow, left lower back/loin, both knees and the second toe of his left foot. There was residual scarring over his face, particularly around the left eye and below the chin, as well as to other parts of his body including the low back/left hip, left elbow, left shoulder and right hand. In addition, there was redness and a mild hammer toe deformity of the left second toe.
Significantly, he also suffered from depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder following the collision. He undertook cognitive behavioural therapy sessions, but psychological factors continued to impact negatively upon him resulting in difficulties with concentration, attention, information processing and memory.
Symptoms in his back and right knee continued, together with stress related sweating and fatigue following everyday activity which resulted in a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The insurers sought to argue this diagnosis was established pre-accident following a pulmonary embolism suffered two years prior, and therefore the cause remained a live issue with the amount of compensation disputed throughout.
My other client, who had been the passenger driven by her husband, sustained concussion and soft tissue injuries to her neck, back, shoulders and knees along with lacerations/abrasions to her face and some dental damage in the form of chipped teeth. There was residual scarring on the ear, lip, hands, wrists, elbows and left shin, with mild discolouration on the right shin.
She also sustained post-traumatic stress disorder with depression and anxiety for which several sessions of cognitive behavioural therapy were recommended and undertaken.
Ongoing symptoms in the knees and inter-scapular region were expected to resolve, but my client went on to develop myofascial pain syndrome leading to an established diagnosis of Fibromyalgia which was not expected to resolve. In disputing this claim, the insurers relied upon on the poor statistical link between Fibromyalgia and trauma related to road traffic collisions.
Though amount of compensation due remained in dispute, the claims were compromised by way of joint settlement meeting between the parties shortly before trial.
My first client received an award for past and future loss of earnings, as well as for past care, treatment, travel and medication. It was also agreed that he would be compensated in the cost of paying for home help in the future, to include gardening and heavy DIY.
His wife, who was a teacher and had reduced to part-time work by the time of the settlement meeting, recovered her past and future loss of earnings, associated pension loss, claims for past care, treatment and travel, as well as future allowances for home help and gym membership, after it was agreed that exercise is universally recommended for Fibromyalgia sufferers.
The settlement represented a very good outcome for both clients. Special thanks followed on Twitter and I know that both clients are now looking forward, while putting the accident behind them.
Often referred to as a “diagnosis of exclusion”, pain conditions can be diagnosed in the absence of a physical problem causing the symptoms complained of. However, this doesn’t make the symptoms any less real for the sufferer and if accident-related can result in a substantial award of damages as in the present case.