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Written on 1st September 2020 by

Boyes Turner’s head injury lawyers have secured an out-of-court settlement of £3,000,000 for a young woman who was hit by a speeding car on a pedestrian crossing. Our client suffered a brain injury in the accident but with the help of rehabilitation, she was able to complete her education and regain some independence through supported independent living. In what the court described as a ‘model approach’ to this type of claim, Kim Smerdon’s commitment to her client’s rehab finally secured the defendant’s insurers’ support. The final settlement of £3,000,000 was paid in addition to the £225,000 of Rehabilitation Code insurer funded rehab that our client had already received, and CRU benefits, which would normally be deducted from this type of claim.

Speeding driver‘s insurers admitted liability – then changed position  

The defendant driver‘s insurers initially admitted liability for our client’s injuries. They later alleged contributory negligence, claiming that our client had run across the road into their driver’s path. In doing so, they sought to reduce the overall value of the claim.

Court commends Kim Smerdon’s ‘model approach’ to rehabilitation

Our client suffered multiple, severe injuries in the accident, including:

  • a very severe traumatic brain injury – scoring 3/15 on the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS);
  • an acute subdural haemorrhage (bleed into the brain), bruising and damage to the brain;
  • multiple skull and facial fractures;
  • fractures to the pelvis and sacral bones;
  • pneumothorax (collapsed lung);
  • a deep wound to the back of the head;
  • multiple soft tissue injuries.

Kim asked the defendant’s insurers to provide immediate Rehabilitation Code funding to pay for our client’s seamless move from post-accident hospital care into rehabilitation.  Under the Rehabilitation Code, insurers who are liable to compensate an injured victim are encouraged to pay for the injured person’s rehabilitation as soon as possible after the injury. In this way, they can help give the injured person the best chance of recovery by getting rehab started quickly. Early rehab is known to be more effective the sooner it is started. For most seriously injured victims of negligence, without Rehabilitation Code funding this valuable opportunity to maximise their recovery would be lost by the time they finally receive their compensation. Unlike interim payments or compensation-based rehab funding, Rehabilitation Code funding is paid in full, without reductions linked to liability (fault) such as contributory negligence. 

When the defendant’s insurers failed to respond to the request for Rehabilitation Code funding within a reasonable time, Kim escalated the request to a higher level within the insurance company. This action followed the Serious Injury Guide, which encourages best practice from its members, and resulted in funding being agreed the next day.  This enabled her to appoint a case manager and carry out an immediate needs assessment (INA) whilst our client was still in hospital, pay for extensive rehab, provide educational support and eventually a successful trial of independent living. 

The trial of independent living enabled our client’s disabilities to be assessed in a setting that was independent from her devoted parents’ support, so that her future needs could be properly compensated. From early in the rehab process, Kim invited the defendant’s solicitors and insurers to every multi-disciplinary rehab team meeting. This helped them to see first-hand and finally understand the extent of our client’s impairments and difficulties.

Kim also persuaded the insurers to provide holistic, compassionate rehab funding for therapy to help manage a family member’s psychological reaction to her sister’s injury. 

Protecting our client with deputyship and anonymity order

The lasting effects of a head injury can be hard to assess. Many are not obvious at first glance but can leave the brain injured person more vulnerable. In this case, the defendant’s insurers disputed that our client lacked the mental capacity to manage her own financial affairs. Our experts believed that she did lack capacity and therefore needed the protection of a Court of Protection deputy. In the lead up to the Joint Settlement Meeting (JSM) we secured Court of Protection Deputyship for our client. 

At the JSM we negotiated an additional compensation payment of  £3,000,000 for our client, in addition to the benefits and full rehab costs she had already received, by way of final settlement. 

The settlement was approved by the court and an anonymity order granted to our client and her family.

We’d like to express our thanks to Kim and the team at Boyes Turner for the expertise, experience and professionalism in handling our daughter’s serious injury claim following a road accident. From arranging a team of rehab specialists and the necessary funding to the negotiation of the final very satisfactory settlement, the whole operation has been conducted very smoothly and we can recommend their service to anyone in a similar position.