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It’s the phone call that every parent dreads. The hospital calls to say your teenage son has been involved in an accident. That was the grim reality for Tina Collins, when the Great Western Hospital in Swindon, Wiltshire rang to say that her 18 year old son, Paul had been admitted following a serious road traffic collision.
Paul had been driving friends home after a night out and was headed North West on the B4192, towards Aldbourne in Wiltshire, when a driver travelling in the opposite direction lost control of their vehicle, ploughing into his car at speed.
When Tina got to the hospital, she could barely recognise him. She explains: “Paul was lying flat on his back, drifting in and out of consciousness and was covered in blood. There were cuts and bruises everywhere and his face was so badly swollen, it didn’t look like him at all.”
Paul was hospitalised for 19 days but at no time was he given any neuro-rehabilitation treatment for the serious blow to the head he sustained in the accident; despite the fact that in the immediate aftermath, he was suffering from amnesia, had lost the ability to speak and was in a confused and angry state. When he managed to start stringing words together again, his language was aggressive and abusive.
Paul’s case was initially handled by non-specialist solicitors nominated by his car insurance. However, lacking experience in brain injury cases, they failed to understand the extent and severity of the damage to Paul’s brain. They neglected to put in place the rehabilitation and care and support he needed. Instead, the responsibility for looking after Paul was placed solely at Tina’s door and she was forced to give up work to care for Paul full-time, placing them under huge pressure and financial strain.
The defendant’s medical team dismissed the serious, debilitating damage to Paul’s brain as a ‘mild head injury’ despite the fact that Paul was still having trouble with his speech and experiencing severe behavioural problems.
Tina realised they were in trouble and needed help. A friend recommended Novum Law, expert personal injury lawyers specialising in complex brain and catastrophic injury cases to fight their corner.
Straight to work
“I met with Huw Ponting, a specialist brain injury lawyer at Novum at their offices in Swindon, who there and then agreed to take our case on. Huw and his team immediately got to work, setting up a community-based support package which included sourcing suitable accommodation to help Paul cope on a day-to-day basis in a more stable environment. He also secured the support of an experienced case manager and specialist support workers to care for Paul. To say it was a huge weight off my shoulders is an understatement”, Tina explains.
Medical experts appointed by Novum found that contrary to what the defendant’s medical team had claimed, Paul had, in fact, suffered a severe traumatic brain injury to his frontal lobe consisting of a cerebral oedema, intra-cranial hematoma and subdural haemorrhage. This type of serious brain injury affects emotional control and executive functioning, leaving him with serious communication problems, behavioural difficulties and anger management issues. And the long-term prognosis was not good – Paul would never be able to work again and would need specialist care and support for the rest of his life.
In 2012, Novum succeeded in persuading the Court to compel the defendant’s insurers to fund a long-term residential rehabilitation programme with a specialist rehabilitation provider (TRU) in the North West capable of dealing with challenging behaviours.
High Court Victory
Novum Law took the long, hard fight for justice for Paul to the High Court and emerged victorious winning a £4 million settlement.
Huw Ponting comments: “Serious brain injuries cause huge disruption to the lives of both the injured individual and their loved ones. Paul and his mother’s experiences highlight the importance of getting advice from a specialist personal injury solicitor from the outset who is experienced in the complex challenges of life-changing brain injury cases to ensure that victims get the much-needed compensation they are entitled to.
“At Novum Law, we understand every head injury is different and we tailor our approach so that clients have the support, rehabilitation and care they need to secure the best possible prospects for their future, whatever that may be.”
Tina concludes: “We wouldn’t have got so far without Novum Law. Our solicitor Huw has gone above and beyond in so many ways, even giving me his personal mobile phone number so that I can call him at any time of the day or night. He has been an absolute God send and I honestly cannot thank him enough.”