I recently acted for Miss M, a cyclist, who was injured when a van, travelling in the opposite direction, suddenly turned right across her path without indicating. Miss M had no time to take avoiding action and collided head-on with the side of the van. She sustained injuries to her nose as well has her lip and widespread facial bruising. She required surgery to re-align her nose which greatly improved the appearance, but a slight indentation on the right side of her nose remained.
Miss M was mostly concerned about the injuries to her lip. Before the accident she had undergone injections of filler into her lips for cosmetic purposes and the force of the accident had pushed segments of the filler into an area above her upper right lip. Her upper right lip remained slightly swollen and it was also numb.
The van driver’s insurers took some time to admit responsibility for the accident, but I considered that a Court would find him at fault and I did not wish to delay Miss M’s claim by waiting for their response and so I organised for Miss M to be seen by an expert plastic surgeon. The expert advised that the injuries had not yet completely settled and further improvement was likely. He advised he should see Miss M again in one year’s time as any imperfections that were visible at that stage were likely to be permanent.
Miss M was understandably anxious and self-conscious about her altered appearance and so I put together a detailed witness statement for her and organised for her to be seen by an expert psychiatrist. The expert diagnosed her with a social anxiety disorder. The expert considered that the source of the social anxiety was my client’s appearance and, unless this fully resolved, Miss M would always have some social anxiety. The expert believed that treatment would help, and recommended Miss M undergo weekly psychotherapy sessions for one year to help her overcome these difficulties as far as possible.
Miss M was then re-seen by the plastic surgery expert who confirmed that there had been some improvement, but the deposits of the filler and some of the swelling and the numbness to her upper lip were likely to be permanent. He recommended that Miss M not undergo any further surgery as he did not consider it would improve the appearance, but he did highlight that she could undergo some filler injections into the right side of her nose to improve its appearance. I organised professional photographs to be taken of her injuries and drew up a schedule of financial loss which included both the cost of the injections and the recommended psychotherapy sessions.
The insurers then made an offer to settle the claim for £15,000. When valuing how much an injured person should receive for facial injuries, the Court will take into account the extent of the injury but also the age of the injured person and the psychological impact of the remaining visible injury on that person. The Court will historically also draw a distinction between the amounts awarded to males and females, with females receiving higher awards. Whilst Courts are increasingly open to bridging the gap between the two amounts of award, the Guidelines for what is likely to be awarded by a Court currently retain this distinction.
As Miss M was a young woman who was significantly psychologically affected by her injuries, I advised that the offer should be rejected and following negotiations, Miss M received £24,000 in compensation which she was pleased with.