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Introduction to serious injuries
If you or your loved-one suffers what insurers refer to as a ‘catastrophic injury’ life is likely to become challenging. Spinal injuries, brain injuries, severe burns or amputations change your life and that of your family forever.
Specialist care and support may become a necessity. Special equipment may be required and your home may need to be adapted. Months of rehabilitation may follow the accident, which has led to your serious injury. Re-training may become necessary. For some people, their serious injury will mean the end of their working lives.
You will need financial support to rebuild your life.
Our Serious Injuries Team has put together the following information to help you to understand the process of making a personal injury compensation claim for a catastrophic injury.
More than just a legal service – what is the Thompsons Serious Injury Team?
Video: Neil's story
What you need to know about bringing a compensation claim for catastrophic injury
About Personal Injury compensation claims and what you can claim for
Our Serious Injury Solicitors / Lawyers
Our Commitment to Serve you
Articles and factsheets for seriously injured individuals
Our Serious Injury Clients
These types of cases can be very complex and you should always speak to a lawyer before commencing a compensation claim. For more information telephone us on 08000 224 224 or complete one of our online compensation claim forms.
Neil Dexter was the victim of a road traffic accident involving a lorry driver who fell asleep at the wheel. After suffering horrific injuries his family turned to Thompsons to help Neil access the guidance, support and expertise he needed to allow him to move on with his life.
If you work with our Serious Injury Team you will have more than just a team of lawyers fighting your case. At Thompsons, we have led the way in securing compensation for serious injuries since the 1970s.
We set up our Serious Injury Team to bring together the most specialist personal injury lawyers with medical and disability experts to fight for justice for the most seriously injured victims of accidents.
Our Serious Injury Team is lead by a number of highly experienced lawyers. Our primary objective is always to secure the maximum compensation for our clients in the shortest possible time and we have earned a reputation for taking on cases and winning where little prospect of success seemed the situation.
In 1987 one of our lawyers, Steve Allen achieved a landmark settlement, being the highest ever settlement at the time, of £850,000 for a brain injury caused by inhaling fumes. It was also one of the first cases to include a compensation claim for care, mobility, accommodation needs, computer and disability equipment.
Since then, and as medical science and technology have advanced, the number of serious injury cases has increased along with the amount of compensation obtained. In 1994 we achieved the highest ever award at the time for a road traffic accident victim in the sum of £3.4 million. More recently, Thompsons have obtained some of the highest settlement awards on record with at least 2 exceeding £8m for very seriously injured clients.
Our Serious Injury team also helped a man who lost his fingers in an accident involving dangerous machinery at work. Our lawyers worked with a team of experienced experts specialising in orthopaedics and prosthetics to develop and supply him with custom made prosthetic fingers. The state of the art technology together with the compensation recovered helped him to get his life back to as normal as possible.
It is every lawyer’s job to provide the best possible legal advice to his or her client. This is where experience really counts. There may come a time when you will need your lawyer to advise as to whether you should settle or continue to fight for a higher award. This is where it pays to have sound advice.
If you would like to discuss what kind of service we can offer you or someone you know please phone us on 08000 224 224 or complete one of our online personal injury compensation claim forms. We will meet you to discuss your situation and how we can help you.
You will be under no obligation to instruct us.
Serious injury or catastrophic injury is a very specialist area so it is important that your solicitor has specific experience in this field. At Thompsons, we have the level of advice and experience that you will need.
You may be able to seek compensation in a range of circumstances and we recommend that you speak with one of our specialist personal injury lawyers if you are not sure. Serious injuries for which we have recovered compensation for our clients include Brain and Spinal Injuries, Severe Burns or Scalds, Loss of Sight and Amputations.
Legal action must be commenced within three years of the date you first knew, or could reasonably have been expected to know, that you have suffered an injury caused through someone else's fault. Different rules apply to children and to people who are incapable of handling their own affairs.
You should visit a specialist catastrophic injury solicitor as soon as possible since there is a vast amount of work to be done before bringing a compensation claim.
We will need to obtain full details of the accident and how it occurred. Supporting witness evidence and documentation will need to be obtained and considered. It is often the case that we will want very early medical assessments in order to asses what specialist medical assistance may be required and what rehabilitative support may be available. In some cases it is necessary to apply for an interim payment to cover the cost of these. Specialist care may be required and often the cost of this can be covered by an interim payment either made voluntarily by the insurer or by Court order.
Negligence has to be proved irrespective of the level of injury caused. However, often in serious injury cases, because the potential level of damages is going to be very high, insurance companies will do everything they can to deny liability or to argue that the injured person contributed to the accident and that damages should therefore be reduced.
As well as proving negligence, it is necessary to prove that the injuries and the disabilities arising from the accident were a consequence of that negligence.
In catastrophic injury cases, the injuries are severe and it may be some time to establish the full extent of disability. There are likely to be a number of injuries ranging from fractures, head injury and spinal cord damage. We will instruct specialist medical experts to assess these. In addition there may be and early need for specialist rehabilitation, domestic and medical care, disability aids and support for family carers.
The cost of all this can be claimed provided it can be shown to be reasonably necessary and of benefit to the quality of life of the injured person.
When someone is injured in an accident they are entitled to claim accident compensation for their injuries and financial losses provided it can be shown that someone else was at fault and that their negligence caused the injuries. In some cases this is straightforward. Often this is not the case and evidence has to be obtained to prove the negligence.
This can involve obtaining witness evidence, accident documents, and in some cases the early intervention of an expert engineer or other appropriate expert is required.
Interim payments can be applied for to cover this, although this can be more difficult if there is a significant dispute as to who was to blame.
In a successful case compensation will consist of damages for pain and suffering, loss of earnings to date, future loss of earnings, the cost of care provided by family members, family members’ reasonable expenses visiting the injured person, the cost of care, past and future, the cost of specialist rehabilitation, the cost of house adaptations, disability equipment, the cost of a case manager.
All these items in severe cases are necessary to restore a reasonable quality of life to the injured person and can add up to a significant sum of compensation. Compensation in these cases is not some sort of windfall or lottery win but the sum that is necessary to enable the injured person to have a reasonable quality of life.
Compensation can be paid in a number of ways; either a lump sum, or a combination of lump sum and periodic payments. In some cases variable periodic payments. We will advise you on the various options at the appropriate time.
At Thompsons Solicitors we have teams of lawyers based regionally around the UK who specialise in dealing with personal injury claims relating to serious injuries.
They all have a wealth of experience of handling high-value claims which is very important when life-changing or catastrophic injuries are involved.
Follow the link to our Serious Injuries Solicitors / Lawyers page to read more about Thompsons Serious Injury Solicitors / Lawyers and examples of cases they have dealt with.
If you decide to instruct us, we always:
• investigate your serious injury case in detail
• simplify the legal issues
• explain to you in plain English what we are doing, what evidence is required and the steps we are taking to win your serious injury case.
All our clients receive full quarterly reports about their case and regular meetings at home or hospital.
In addition to advice about the law and claiming compensation for your serious injury, we also give you important information and guidance on:
• what benefits you may be entitled to from DWP
• the services your local authority may have in place to assist you
• which disabled support groups work in your area.
Whichever solicitor you decide to work with, ensure that they are able to provide you with a complete service. When discussing your case with any solicitor you should remember that legal advice is only one side of the coin. The solicitor you instruct should also be able to give you benefits and lifestyle information too.
For more information about our Serious Injuries Team, read our Serious Injuries Booklet. You can also download this leaflet as a PDF (317KB).
You can keep up to date with the latest in healthcare and serious injury developments by reading articles written by our specialist serious injury team and other experts in the field.
To read any of the articles visit our Serious Injuries Articles page.
• Patrick was seriously injured in an accident at work when a gantry he was working from collapsed. At first it was thought that he wouldn't survive but he did eventually regain consciousness. He spent almost 4 years in hospital and in rehab and although he will require life-long care as a result of the brain injury he sustained, he has made some improvements and can now talk and feed himself. The compensation Thompsons recovered for him paid for a specially adapted bungalow and a care plan for the next 40 years. To read the full story, visit Patrick's Story.
• Roger Adams works as Head Groundsman at a college and was at work cutting the grass with a tractor mower when it became blocked with cuttings. While trying to free the jam, the blades cut off his left forearm. He needed 11 operations and has now been fitted with a prosthetic arm. Thompsons recovered compensation for him which took into account that he would not be able to carry on working until retirement age as he had planned to and that he would need extra help with some everyday tasks he could no longer manage. To read the full story, visit Roger's Story.
• Rebecca was only 13 years old when she was hit by a car on her way to the shops. She suffered severe brain damage and was in intensive care for 7 weeks and then on a ward for 6 months. She was blind and confined to a wheelchair. With expert care and sheer determination, Rebecca regained her sight and is now determined to learn to walk again. Her memory and speech are also improving. The compensation Thompsons recovered for Rebecca paid for a specially adapted bungalow as well as the ongoing cost of her care and rehabilitation. To read the full story, visit Rebecca's Story.
• When Robin was 16 years old he was crossing the road when he was hit by a car which was travelling on the wrong side of the road. He was thrown approximately 10 feet up in the air and suffered a severe brain injury. He was in a coma in intensive care for 5 days and then spent a further 3 weeks on a ward before being discharged. Thompsons recovered compensation for Robin which took into account his future care needs and lost earnings. To read the full story, visit Robin's Story.
• Rebecca was born with a small dimple in her back which her parents now know was a very small hole, called a sinus, in her skin just above the nappy line. Medical staff told the family that there was skin growing beneath the hole and that it would heal but it didn't. In fact the hole became the point of entry for viral meningitis which stayed in Rebecca’s body and attacked her with devastating effect three times – all in the first 13 months of her life. The first attack left her partly paralysed down her left side. The second and third attacks were on her bowel and bladder. Rebecca's mother became her carer and some of the compensation Thompsons recovered for them enabled them to buy a bungalow which helped improve the quality of Rebecca's life. Although Rebecca's problems are life-long, she has now learned to drive and passed her test and intends to work in childcare. To read the full story, visit Rebecca's Story.
• Greg Arde won £2.4 million in compensation. He says “Thompsons were there for me when I needed them”. Greg suffered severe spinal and head injuries when he was crushed by a fork lift truck. A South African citizen, Thompsons helped him to get leave to remain the in the UK and substantial interim payments to enable him to buy and adapt a house and to employ carers. Greg settled his claim for £2.4 million.
• One of our clients suffered head injuries including a brain injury of the utmost severity after being hit by a car. His quality of life was affected in every way – he was unable to continue working and required help and assistance to maintain his life. We negotiated a settlement on his behalf of an exceptional award of compensation, the amount being £1.6 million.
• Another client, suffered catastrophic injuries including serious injuries to the head after being attacked, assaulted and battered by two inmates of the Young Offenders Unit in which he worked. Their attack caused surrounding scaffolding to fall with tragic results as our client suffered brain damage as a result. The court ordered a payment of £1.6 million to be made.
• We represented a client who suffered serious injuries to his left leg after his leg became trapped between two vehicles. The accident ended his working life as his employment was eventually terminated on medical grounds. He was left in pain, suffering inability to stand or sit and his mobility was limited. We settled the case for him, negotiating a compensation award of £600,000.
• Mr Llewellyn suffered multiple spinal injuries when he was knocked off his motorbike by a car driver. Thompsons Solicitors sought medical evidence from a consultant orthopaedic surgeon, consultant neurologist, consultant urologist, consultant psychiatrist and consultant in rehabilitation. A care report and housing report were also obtained. Since the accident our client has only been able to work one day per week and he is unable to pursue any of the sporting interests that he previously enjoyed so much. Mr Llewellyn led an extremely active life which has been taken away. The compensation will go some way towards helping him to reconstruct his life.
• When James was involved in a motorcycle accident at the age of 11, he suffered serious injuries including a brain injury which left him on life-support for 5 days, a broken pelvis and a broken collar-bone. He needed to have an 8-inch plate in his leg and was in hospital for 3 months before returning home in a wheelchair. His parents became his carers. Both James and the other motorcyclist who hit him were uninsured therefore other firms of solicitors were reluctant to take the case on. When the family did find a firm of solicitors willing to help, they weren't successful in gaining any compensation and the family eventually came to Thompsons for advice. Thompsons were successful in obtaining a significant sum of compensation for James and you can read more about this case by visiting James' Story.
•Thompsons' Serious Injury Team helped Joe to recover compensation which helped him gain back his independence and take control of his life after a serious accident at work. Joe suffered massive crush injuries when safety equipment failed causing life-threatening internal injuries and multiple broken bones which resulted in an amputation of his right leg. Joe says that his life continues to be challenging but that his solicitor at Thompsons enabled him to buy a house, the equipment needed to optimise his independence and take charge for himself. Read Joe's full story.