Back in June 2016, a teenage boy, who we’ll call Ben, was out celebrating the end of his secondary school and the start of the summer holidays with his friends. He was on the verge of starting a new course at college in September.
Ben was with his friends, sheltering from a torrential rainstorm, in a bus shelter near his home. Ben’s Mum called at 9 pm and asked him to come home.
Ben kissed his girlfriend goodbye and set off to cross the road to get back to his house. As he reached the centre of the road and was about to cross into the next lane, a car suddenly appeared. Ben was stranded in the road.
The driver, who didn’t see Ben until the last minute, tried to swerve to avoid him. Ben was caught in the horns of a dilemma. He tried to move back to the centre of the road, but he couldn’t move fast enough. He was struck by the car.
The driver, who had been assessed by experts, was said to have been driving at 40 mph when he hit Ben. He tried to argue that as he was travelling below the speed limit (which was 50 mph), he shouldn’t be to blame for the accident.
However, at a seven-day trial in the Royal Courts of Justice, the High Court Judge ruled that he was driving way too fast for the weather conditions declared that he should be held accountable for the accident.
Ben suffered catastrophic brain stem injuries which left him in a coma for over six months. He emerged from his coma gradually and remained in a minimally conscious state for over 12 months.
He’s been left tetraplegic, which means he can’t move the upper and lower parts of his body. He needs assistance with eating and swallowing. He’s incontinent and unable to control his bladder and bowels. He can’t speak, save a few basic words, and has to use basic sign language or a touchscreen iPad to communicate. He can only carry out basic commands, like moving a finger or touching his nose, but not much more, has problems with his memory and can’t process information like he used to. Doctors also believe he might be prone to epileptic seizures too.
Ben also suffered with numerous infections. These often meant he was hospitalised which was especially traumatic during the COVID-19 crisis: He was one of the highly vulnerable individuals who could’ve succumbed to the virus if he’d caught it.
How we Helped Ben
As outlined above, the insurer of the driver would not accept responsibility for the accident and they tried to settle the claim, before it went to trial, for the sum of £2 million. This was rejected.
As such, it was left to the High Court Judge to consider the evidence from witnesses, medical experts and reconstruction footage from both sides.
The other side based their case around police interviews with Ben’s girlfriend, who saw the accident. During these interviews she was asked leading questions and coaxed into agreeing that he had been playing a game of chicken in the road, as she saw him try to move before the collision happened.
But the Judge didn’t accept this. It was clear, after seeing evidence from experts, that he only moved to try and avoid being hit by the car.
The evidence, which was accepted by the Judge, showed that if the driver had been going just a few MPH slower, the car would’ve been able to stop, or Ben would’ve been able to get out of the way.
The Judge, therefore, ruled that even though they were driving within the speed limit, the driver was still driving far too fast for the road conditions. The Judge found the driver of the car to be primarily responsible for the accident.
What was the Outcome?
As Ben suffered such devastating injuries, expert neurologists believe that he will only live for another 40 years and will need treatment and full-time care and support for the rest of his life.
Ben’s injuries also had a devastating effect on the whole of his family. His Mother, unable to cope with the grief turned to drugs and prostitution leaving Ben’s Dad to manage Ben’s condition and Ben’s seven-year-old brother, alone.
A case manager was appointed to put together a complex, multi-disciplinary team of clinicians with expertise in neurology, neuropsychiatry, neuropsychology, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, Speech And Language Therapy (SALT), and urology.
A support team was also put in place to give Ben daily 24-hour care.
A house was sourced, adapted and equipped so that Ben could be looked after from home rather than from hospital, and so that his dad and brother could be around to help and provide him with some sort of quality of life.
All of this was set up as the case progressed. Once the liability trial was won, interim payments were given until the parties could agree on the correct level of lifelong compensation Ben needed.
Ben is a lifelong Chelsea fan and the compensation he received meant he was able to visit and watch the team in one of their specially adapted executive boxes.
To help Ben, Ben’s friends and Ben’s family, we managed to secure a complex settlement which was approved by the Court.
A meeting was held with the insurer who offered a total of £19 million. This amount was made from a lump sum of £4.5million plus £450,000 per year for the rest of Ben’s life to pay for his care, treatment and rehabilitation needs.
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