We secured a substantial settlement for an elderly woman who was hit by a car as she crossed the road and sustained serious injuries, including a head injury, fractures to the right fibula and tibia, a fractured pelvis and cracked ribs. She was knocked unconscious and had to be air lifted to hospital.
The claimant, who was 89 years old at the time of the accident, remained in hospital for a substantial period of time and had a slow recovery. Cognitively she became passive, her communication was moderate, and she suffered with short term memory loss and was disoriented. After almost a year of hospital care, she was discharged to her beloved home on the seafront with a 24 hour care package. Sadly this was unsustainable and within a few short months her family had no alternative but to move her to a care home.
We were instructed shortly after the accident and work was undertaken in respect of liability and causation and also to quantify the claim for general and special damages. Following analysis of the claimant's relevant medical records and care plans, concerns about her continued cognitive decline and capacity were identified. A medical assessment was undertaken and it was concluded that she lacked capacity to deal with this litigation as a direct result of the head injury she had sustained. Owing to her lack of capacity, she was identified as a protected party as defined in CPR rule 21.0(2), meaning that any settlement agreed needed to be approved by the court.
Initially the defendant denied all liability suggesting that there was nothing to indicate that his driving fell below the standard of a reasonable and competent driver nor that it was negligent. Work was undertaken to instruct an accident investigator on the basis that due to the claimant's status as a protected party and the high level of quantum involved, the court was unlikely to approve any settlement sum without an agreement as to liability. Following a period of disclosure and negotiation, the defendant put forward an offer in respect of liability which was 75/25 in the claimant's favour. Taking into account all factors, the claimant elected to accept this offer and work then focused on quantum investigations.
Various witnesses were identified as suitable to provide character statements in support of damages and on the claimant's cognitive condition pre- and post-accident. Medical evidence was obtained from experts in the fields of neurology, care and occupational therapy. Due to the claimant's age, there were complexities in establishing the level of future care that she would have required in any event, and separating out those needs which were purely a result of the injuries sustained in the accident. The overriding agreement was that while the claimant was likely to have needed some minor household assistance as she moved into her tenth decade, her significant injuries from the accident had catapulted her into needing 24 hour care for the remainder of her life.
After the medical evidence was finalised, the parties entered into settlement negotiations and agreed a settlement of £185,000 net of the liability split which was subsequently approved by the court.