Sadie was a 24 years old, self-employed beautician. In 2011, she was involved in a road traffic accident. As a result of the accident she sustained soft tissue injuries to her neck and the upper part of her back.
She was referred by her insurance company to a large firm of solicitors.
About a month after the accident, her solicitors referred her through a medical agency to a General Practitioner for a medical report. He diagnosed a “whiplash injury” and advised that she “should make a full recovery within six months” and that “no treatment is indicated“.
Based upon this report, her solicitors advised her to settle the claim. They received an offer of settlement of £1,750 from the other driver’s insurance company and suggested that she should accept it.
However, rather than improving, Sadie’s symptoms had become considerably worse and, more worrying, she was developing other increasingly debilitating symptoms in other parts of her body. These included low back pain, frequent incapacitating bladder spasm with urinary urgency, daily headaches and bilateral leg and foot pain.
Sadie’s walking tolerance was limited to ten minutes, sleeping was extremely difficult and even when she did sleep she awoke unrefreshed. Work was impossible and she described her life as “no more than an existence”.
Her solicitor expressed surprise at Sadie’s suggestion that her symptoms could be related to the accident and was reluctant to consider obtaining further, more specialist medical evidence.
Sadie looked around for new solicitors and contacted us.
We went to see Sadie and took a full history before setting out our proposed plan of action. We always encourage people to take some time to consider their options before instructing us but Sadie decided to instruct us immediately.
We contacted her former solicitors to request their file. Sadie did not have to have any further contact with them.
There was a lot to do. We obtained a full set of medical records, which required collating. A detailed chronology was prepared of Sadie’s medical history and letters of instruction were drafted to medical experts which, to ensure their accuracy, Sadie was asked to approve.
Detailed witness statements were taken from Sadie, her partner, members of her family, several friends and a number of her regular customers. This is because it is important to preserve people’s thoughts and recollections at an early stage, particularly how people had perceived changes in all aspects of Sadie’s life since her accident.
We drafted detailed letters of instruction to leading medical experts, which were first sent to Sadie to approve. The experts instructed were in the field of rheumatology and pain psychiatry. These experts agreed that as a result of the accident, Sadie had developed Fibromyalgia (FM).
The experts were of the opinion that Sadie may benefit from attending an intensive, in-patient course of pain management and rehabilitation at the Bath Centre for Pain Services (BCPS). She was keen to follow their advice and we were successful in arranging funding.
As Sadie was unable to work, we also obtained interim payments to keep her head above water financially.
Following her attendance on the 4 week course at the BCPS, Sadie felt that she had “made progress”. It is always important when somebody attends an intensive course of treatment that arrangements are put in place to provide for them continued professional support immediately upon the completion of the intensive course. That is the only way to minimise the risk of ‘crash and burn’, a common occurrence when a person emerges back into the real world from the rarefied and highly supportive environment of a residential treatment centre. Prior to Sadie’s attendance on the course, we had therefore arranged for her to be jointly assessed by physical and psychological therapists close to her home who were able to communicate with the BCPS and provide support for Sadie immediately upon her arrival home.
Sadie remained in pain and after re-examining her, the medical experts agreed that this was likely to remain the case. However, overall her pain was less intense, even on bad days. In addition, her mobility had improved and her headaches were less frequent.
Despite the modest improvement in Sadie’s condition, a return to her previous occupation was out of the question. Sadie was, understandably, keen to find something to occupy her time and very much to her credit had started a small business on ebay, selling a selection of beauty products. However, her ongoing condition meant that she was not always capable of processing and packaging orders herself, having to rely upon help from her mother.
We instructed a forensic accountant to prepare earnings forecasts to compare Sadie’s likely earnings, past and future, in both her former and new occupation. This assisted us in ‘proving’ her claim for past and future lost earnings.
Other heads of claim included damages for her injuries (damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity), future care and ongoing treatment.
Ultimately, Sadie’s claim proceeded to a Joint Settlement Meeting, where her claim settled for £625,000.