Sarah’s Story – Why we should think carefully before condemning all personal injury claims
Leeds mum Sarah Wise, says we should think carefully before condemning all personal injury claims as part of the so-called “compensation culture”
Here’s her story:
My father still won’t watch the Helicopter Heroes TV episode, which shows me being pulled out of what is left of a TVR sports car and airlifted to Leeds General Infirmary. To be honest, I hardly recognise myself. I used to watch the series and feel sorry for the accident victims, but you don’t really think about them as real people, or that it would happen to me. Yet there I am, covered in blood and bruises, still trapped in the car, and in excruciating pain. I don’t remember anything from the accident itself due to a traumatic brain injury. Watching the footage back shows how fantastic The Yorkshire Air Ambulance crew were – they knew almost immediately that they were dealing with a broken pelvis, but didn’t know how much internal damage and bleeding there was and wanted to get me to hospital as quickly as possible. They asked me to rate the pain on a scale of one to ten: all you can hear is me screaming ten, and at one point twelve!
Sarah actually suffered a broken pelvis, skull, jaw, cheekbone, fingers and ribs; a ruptured spleen and punctured lung. She was in intensive care and a high dependency unit at the LGI for more than a month, followed by bedbound care at home and three months in a wheelchair. Almost five years later, she still has constant pain, particularly in her back. She cannot stand for long periods of time; needs regular physiotherapy, sports massage and acupuncture and suffers severe headaches, memory loss and cognitive difficulties.
I was on a second date, would you believe! I don’t know exactly what happened, but we were just approaching the A64 outside Tadcaster and he lost control of the car and crashed into some parked cars. My side of the car took most of the impact. It is really hard to piece together what happened after the accident. The doctors and nurses at LGI were fantastic and my Dad and his wife were absolutely brilliant looking after me at home, but my memories are blurred. I just know there were lots of operations, hospital and doctor visits and intensely painful physiotherapy sessions to get me walking again.
The first time the issue of compensation came up, was a throwaway comment from one of my friends visiting me in hospital and trying to cheer me up. She said, at least I could look forward to a good payout – with these injuries I bet it would be about £10,000. Anyone who has been severely injured in an accident will tell you the same. It really isn’t the first thing you think about. You read that we’re supposed to be turning into a so-called compensation culture, claiming whiplash for the slightest bump, but when you’ve been involved in a serious accident, you’re just happy that you’ve survived and all you’re thinking about is getting better.
Leeds-based personal injury solicitors Review My Claim were recommended by a friend and Partner Andrew Greenwood handled every aspect of Sarah’s accident claim, ensuring she and her family could focus on her rehabilitation. A six figure settlement has finally been awarded this year.
For the first time since the accident I can start to see a real future again. I wasn’t sure with all the injuries and operations, that I would be able to successfully carry a baby, but I now have my one-year-old son, Billy to take care of – my little miracle. I can buy a house and have some security. I used to work in corporate banking, but I have to think in terms of a job where I won’t be sitting down for long periods of time. There’s a long gap in my c.v. of course and you have to explain to potential employers why that is and that you need the flexibility to go for regular physiotherapy and rehabilitation.
I would really like to support other people who are going through what I went through and I’ve now got the confidence to explore university courses in sports therapy and rehabilitation, with a view to finding a job in that area. Billy will be able to start nursery, two days a week, which I know he’ll enjoy, because he loves playing with friends and finding new toys. The settlement means I don’t have to worry about that cost. One of the things you soon realise is that the money isn’t like a lottery win. It’s about replacing the security you used to have, the things you used to take for granted. For me it’s about planning for me and Billy and giving me the chance to find a new way of supporting him for his future.
You have no idea what to do or what to expect in terms of insurance claims after a serious accident, so I think the Review My Claim service is an excellent idea. You need to speak to someone you can trust and Andrew just took all the worry away. I’m delighted that it’s also supporting Yorkshire Air Ambulance – they’re an amazing team and deserve all the support they can get.
In an independent survey of more than 2000 people in the UK*, 41% of those who had made a personal injury claim were unhappy with their settlement, or weren’t confident they were awarded the right amount of compensation.
Review My Claim was launched by Emsleys earlier this year, providing free, independent advice. The team will deal with claims in progress, where people are unhappy with the advice they’re getting, where their advisers have made a mistake or when they’ve been told their case has no merit. They also advise on settled claims where people are unhappy with the amount of compensation they’ve been awarded. In addition to fund-raising support from its staff, the service will donate £10 to Yorkshire Air Ambulance for every case it takes on.
Andrew Greenwood is a founding member and trustee of national charity SCARD (Support and Care After Road Death and injury), a panel member of brain injury charity Headway and a member of industry quality standards champions, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers.
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