£140,000 Compensation for Head, Neck and Shoulder Injuries plus FND After an Accident at Work

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Matthew Clayton

Partner, Serious Injury Solicitor

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Our client was working as a Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) driver and was visiting a building site.

While visiting the site, Brian was stood by the side of his lorry when another lorry struck part of an overhanging tree which caused a large branch to break off and fall on our client, hitting him across the head, neck and shoulders.

Due to the weight of the branch, he went on to suffer a serious injury and developed a debilitating condition known as Functional Neurological Disorder, more commonly referred to as FND. He fell to his knees and was trapped by the branch. He was wearing a hard hat on site which fortunately prevented him from suffering a more serious head injury. His work colleagues went to help him and pulled him free of the foliage.

The accident resulted in him experiencing severe neck pain, lower back pain and shoulder pain. Understandably, he was in shock.

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After the accident

Brian attended hospital and was x-rayed. He was diagnosed with a whiplash type injury to his neck and the x-rays showed he had suffered a torn rotator cuff in his shoulder which had to be fixed with surgery.

He was also diagnosed with sciatica which he was told was a worsening of some pre-existing degenerative changes in his spine. This had been triggered by the accident. The pain from the sciatica spread down both his legs. He had a series of facet joint injections to try and help alleviate the pain and manage his symptoms.

Unfortunately, Brian began to struggle with psychological problems with worsening depression and anxiety;  he worried a lot over his worsening pain and started to worry about both his financial situation and inability to work. He had worked all his life.  He was coming to the twilight of his career but had hoped, due to his previous good health, to continue working for at least another 8 years until retirement. He was also struggling at times with  confusion, memory loss and experienced a short temper that was not usual for him.

As Brian’s depression spiralled, he began to suffer from tremors in his body.  The movements were jerking movements affecting the legs and trunk of his body which he could not control. At times the movements were so severe that, to his family and friends, it looked like he was suffering a convulsion, which is a non-epileptic fit. This severely affected his quality of life. It was particularly bad at times of stress and shock and could be triggered by touch and loud noises. He was diagnosed with Spinal Myoclonus by the Neurology team who were treating him, which can sometimes be referred to as dystonia.

This is a condition where a person experiences uncontrolled and painful muscle movements or spasms. It is typically a lifelong problem, according to the NHS, however treatment can help to relieve some of the symptoms. The main treatments include medication, injections and surgery.

Following this diagnosis, Brian got in touch with our expert Personal Injury Solicitors for a free claims assessment, and after listening to his story, we felt he had a strong claim for compensation. As such,  we agreed to take on his case on a No Win, No Fee basis.

a doctor next to an mri machine

How We Helped

We firstly made enquiries to establish the details of the company who employed the lorry driver who drove into the tree branch. Once this had been established,  we sent them a letter of claim. They denied liability and instead blamed the local council for not maintaining the tree branches in the area and for permitting them to protrude dangerously into the road. 

We then directed a letter of claim to the local council responsible for maintenance of the tree. We argued that the dangerously protruding branch from the tree created a public nuisance and that it was likely that a higher vehicle such as a lorry could strike it when driving down the road and cause a risk of injury. The local council eventually admitted liability for the accident.

We arranged for Brian to have medical assessments by a whole team of medical experts due to the complexity of his symptoms which we recognised required specialist advice. We obtained medical reports from the following types of medical experts:

  • Spinal Surgeon
  • Orthopaedic Surgeon (specialising in Shoulder Injuries)
  • Neurologist
  • Psychologist
  • Neuropsychiatrist

These independent experts each prepared medical reports detailing his injuries and how they affected his life.

The experts recommended a number of diagnostic tests which Brian had to undergo in order to help them reach a diagnosis.  These included having an MRI scan and also having to undergo Sleep Studies where he had to be admitted to hospital overnight so he could be observed sleeping, to monitor his movements, in particular the jerking movements when he was asleep.  He had to be tested on two separate occasions.

The Neurologist ordered the tests because the medical results to date had not found any explanation for any other neurological condition or cause of his symptoms. The testing was carried out to exclude other causes before arriving at a diagnosis of Functional Neurological Disorder (FND).

Additionally, the Psychiatrist agreed that there was a contributing psychological component to the symptoms and that he was also suffering with major depression.  

A programme of targeted treatment including residential treatment for the FND was recommended with a multi-disciplinary team involving a neurologist, neuropsychologist, and neuropsychiatrist.  We obtained a quote for the cost of the residential treatment.

It was recommended that the maximum potential benefits of the treatment would be achieved after settlement of the case, as the litigation was proving to be understandably stressful for Brian. He opted to claim for the cost of the treatment as part of his case, to settle the case and undergo the treatment after the litigation was concluded.

Using the evidence we had gathered, including the medical reports, we determined how much compensation Brian should claim and, at his request, we asked the Defendants to meet with us for a Joint Settlement Meeting which is a more informal, and less stressful option when looking to settle a case rather than running the case all the way to a full court hearing which would have undoubtedly caused further stress and anxiety for Brian. Our valuation of his claim reflected many factors, including his physical injuries, his psychological symptoms, the cost of having the recommended programme of treatment and some loss of earnings.

The cause of the FND symptoms was fully disputed by the Defendants. Whilst they had admitted fault for the accident, they contended that the FND had occurred due to other causes and not due to the accident itself. This is one of the reasons why obtaining expert medical evidence through reports was essential to prove that all symptoms and conditions experienced were as a direct result of the accident.

What is FND?

According to the NHS, Functional Neurological Disorder (FND) describes a problem with how the brain receives and sends information to the rest of the body. It’s often helpful to think of the brain as a computer. In someone who has FND, there’s no damage to the hardware, or structure, of the brain. It’s the software, or program running on the computer, that isn’t working properly.

The problems in FND are going on in a level of the brain that a person cannot control. It includes symptoms like arm weakness, leg weakness and seizures. Other symptoms like fatigue or pain are not directly caused by FND but are sadly often found alongside it. FND can have many symptoms that can vary from person to person. Some people may have few symptoms, and some people may have many.

physiotherapy on a woman's back

The Outcome

The case was settled out of court at a Joint Settlement Meeting for £140,000.

The most important outcome for the client was to be able to have a diagnosis of his symptoms, with a diagnosis of FND and importantly to feel understood.  The compensation package enabled him to secure the money he needed to undergo a package of specialist private treatment to manage and treat the FND.

The case is important also in highlighting that, whilst an accident may have happened to you whilst working it is not always your employer who is at fault. In this case the blame was actually attached to the local council for failing to prune and maintain a tree which had a branch which protruded dangerously into the road. Fortunately, in our client’s case, a work colleague had taken some photographs of the tree and the branch after the accident. It was also witnessed which meant that we were able to prove that the local council were at fault.



NHS Inform Scotland. (2023). "Functional Neurological Disorder." Retrieved from https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/brain-nerves-and-spinal-cord/functional-neurological-disorder/ (Accessed December 5, 2023)

(2021). "Dystonia." Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dystonia/ (Accessed December 5, 2023)

Matthew Clayton Profile Picture

Matthew Clayton

Partner, Serious Injury Solicitor

Areas of Expertise:
Personal Injury

Matthew specialises in Serious Injury claims for compensation including AmputationsBrain Damage and Head Injuries, and Spinal Cord Injuries.

Matthew joined Simpson Millar in November 2016, and heads our department which looks after clients who have suffered life changing injuries.

Matthew is a former Principal Lawyer with Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK. He qualified as a Lawyer in 1990, and has a wealth of experience in helping clients who have suffered a range of injuries.

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