Grace was a 52 year old health care manager. She and her husband enjoyed their regular caravan holidays and walking in the countryside with their dogs.
In 2011, she was involved in a road traffic accident and suffered soft tissue injuries to her neck and low back. The expected gradual improvement in her symptoms did not materialise; instead Grace experienced a steady deterioration in her condition and underwent a raft of medical tests and investigations, including spells of hospitalisation, all of which failed to provide any answers.
Remarkably, even though Grace had instructed solicitors within a few weeks of the accident no medical evidence was obtained by them for over 3 years. It seemed that her solicitor was entirely flummoxed by her condition and so essentially he put his head in the sand. The insurance company made an early offer of settlement of £1,500, increasing that to £2,500, which, despite the lack of any medical evidence, her solicitor suggested that she should strongly consider accepting.
Eventually, Court proceedings were issued by her solicitors (but not served) on the day before the expiry of the three year ‘limitation period’ for bringing the claim. This seemed to prompt them to obtain medical evidence and they instructed an orthopaedic surgeon to examine her. Grace was extremely unhappy with the report, which doubted her credibility and, understandably, she telephoned her solicitor to raise those concerns. Incredibly, the solicitors file note of that telephone conversation reads that “it was agreed that the best thing would be for her to calm down over the weekend and ring me on Monday”!
That conversation prompted Grace to look for new solicitors and she telephoned us. We arranged to meet with her to review her case and it was striking how little progress had been made with her claim over the past 3 years. Despite having lost her job as a result of her continued incapacity she had received no interim payments and not a thought had been given to treatment.
Grace decided to instruct us. She did not need to have any further contact with her first solicitors. We dealt with that for her. An ‘action plan’ was agreed with Grace to move her claim forward.
A full set of records was obtained – medical, DWP and employment – which were then thoroughly reviewed, indexed and paginated. Chronologies of those records were prepared and detailed witness statements taken from Grace, members of her family, her friends and some of her former colleagues. We then instructed leading experts in pain medicine, neurology and psychiatry, all of whom were very supportive. A successful application to the Court was made to rely upon these medical experts.
The experts were in agreement that, entirely as a result of the accident, Grace had developed a chronic pain disorder in the form of a somatic symptom disorder with a concurrent diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder and a major depressive disorder. Unfortunately, as a result of the huge delay in obtaining a proper diagnosis, the prognosis for Grace was extremely guarded.
Amongst other recommendations, highly specialist inpatient treatment was recommended at the Bath Centre for Pain Services at the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases. The cost of this course of treatment was £16,000 and we arranged for the cost to be met by the Defendant’s insurance company.
Following treatment, Grace was subsequently re-examined by the medical experts. There had been some improvement in her condition but the opinion of the experts was that there was little prospect of further improvement.
The Defendant obtained reports from their own experts in pain medicine and psychiatry but, tellingly, they exercised their right not to disclose those reports to us.
Following negotiation, Grace’s claim settled for £436,000.