When 14-year-old Jada Marsh was hit by a car on a zebra crossing on her way home from school and thrown twenty-feet into the air, it seemed as though her ambition of becoming a professional musician may have ended.
Jada landed on her steel violin case and lay in the road drifting in and out of consciousness before an ambulance arrived and took her to hospital.
Although her external injuries were immediately treated it would be years before the full extent of her traumatic brain injury was fully understood and that it would take input from her serious injury legal and rehabilitation team to achieve a full diagnosis.
Now, four-years on from that dark November evening in 2018, thanks to a rehabilitation support package overseen by Hudgell Solicitors and Think Therapy 1st that concentrated on her financial, physical, emotional and psychological needs, Jada is now studying at London’s Royal College of Music.
“I’m excited about my future again,” she said, “I thought it had been taken away from me, but I can now perform confidently again. The last few years have been such a learning experience and I feel like I can achieve things.”
The full extent of her head injury would take years to be diagnosed
Chatting to her mum on her phone, Jada was walking to the train station in the town of Battle in East Sussex on the day of the accident. Reaching the crossing she stopped talking to concentrate on the road.
“I remember waiting for a car to come to a halt and then I started to walk across, I could see another in the near distance on the other side but I thought it would stop.”
The last thing Jada remembers was turning her body away from the vehicle. When she woke in the road a man was covering her with a blanket and telling her an ambulance was on its way. She could hear her mother’s voice coming from her phone a distance away.
Jada was taken to Eastbourne Hospital where her immediate physical injuries, including a frontal head injury and a laceration behind the hairline, were treated. She was discharged home with an appointment for the next day to attended East Grinstead Hospital where she underwent reconstructive surgery to reattach her ear.
But at home in the days that followed, she developed severe headaches, trouble breathing and began coughing blood and was readmitted. The full extent of her head injury would take years to be diagnosed and it would involve a holistic, multi-disciplinary support package to be put in place.
‘Nothing felt like it was before’
When Jada returned to school, she began to notice problems with her short-term memory in relation to her studies and also her music.
“Nothing felt like it was before, but there wasn’t that much support and I felt like I was just left to get on with life as if nothing had happened,” she recalled.
Jada struggled to concentrate for long periods and her schoolwork suffered along with relationships. The reduction in her ability to read music also affected her mood and frustration levels. No-one, at first, attributed these behaviour changes to her head injury.
“I did wonder why I wasn’t doing well at school; I couldn’t take in all the information I had been able to before. Even when I was playing the violin I couldn’t harmonise, I realised my ability was going down. I wasn’t doing as well as I was used to, but I couldn’t express why and I couldn’t find the motivation to practice efficiently.
“My relationships with people also changed, with groups of friends I became anxious and I would hide during lunchtimes. But I tried to go about life as if everything was normal, I didn’t seek support, I just thought I’d become lazy and so did others. Really, I was suffering in silence.”
Jada also suffered with spinal and neck pain which affected her ability to sit for long periods playing the violin.
‘Time was of the essence’
When Hudgell Solicitors began to represent Jada in her serious injury claim, having taken over from another law firm, steps were immediately taken to put in place an on-going package of financial, physical, emotional and psychological support.
Jada was represented by Hudgells’ experienced serious injury solicitor Kerry Gillespie who said:
“We knew time was of the essence. We recognised that a holistic support package was crucial. If Jada was to fully recover, she needed rehabilitation, including counselling, neuro occupational therapy and clinical psychology, provided by brain injury rehabilitation specialists.
“It was also vital that the legal team pushed for an early interim payment to fund the support package.”
‘We assessed what was in her best interests’
Jada’s occupational therapist was Fiona Peters from Think Therapy 1st, a specialist rehabilitation company which works with people that have been severely or catastrophically injured.
“That made a huge difference,” said Jada. “We clicked immediately, she became a great friend and helped me work a lot of things out. It was productive and so helpful, the difference in my recovery after being with her was amazing.”
Fiona remembers: “The first thing we did was to identify what Jada needed. I met her at her home and we assessed what was in her best interests and what to target.
“What was obvious to me was that she just didn’t seem to have the support you would need if you had suffered a traumatic brain injury. No-one had made the link between the accident and her behaviour change.
“I had to explain to people, her family and her school, that she had suffered a childhood brain injury and that was very significant. She was not just ‘a lazy teenager’, rather, the change in her dedication was caused by her injury.
“Over time we developed strategies for organising, planning and memorising and once all the additional scaffolding was in place to support her, things began to take shape.”
‘I had all the right people supporting me’
Solicitor Ms Gillespie also ensured that expert medical assessments were undertaken which confirmed that Jada’s traumatic head injury had also caused her intolerance to noise, motion intolerance, memory impairment, change in personality and speech disturbance.
“When I had that care package in place it made such a difference, I had all the right people supporting me, appointments were made for me to see specialists, I had physiotherapy and I became less stressed, especially as things began to be explained to me about why and how I was feeling. It really was a healing process. It even explained why I couldn’t read music properly,” said Jada.
Over the months and years that followed Jada’s long-term physical and psychological injuries were diagnosed by expert medical consultants. The support focussed on diagnosing her injuries, providing expert rehabilitation services, including counselling, care, neuro occupational therapy and clinical psychology, provided by brain injury rehabilitation specialists.
It also ensured that Jada was awarded an interim compensation payment, allowing her to continue to fund her music studies.
“I bought a laptop for school and was able to afford my travel fare. I really became more independent, less anxious and I took more responsibility for myself. Before I would not make a phone call, and then I could.”
Ms Gillespie also ensured that the final compensation package ensured there were sufficient funds for Jada’s adult life. After the driver of the car admitted primary liability for the accident a six-figure damages settlement was agreed that will be invested for Jada’s future needs.
“This case is an example of how important it is to treat each case individually and really take the time to get to know your client. Jada’s whole future was music and having that taken away from her had a very profound effect. Fiona was brilliant and liaised with the school and even family members to explain the effects of a traumatic brain injury,” said Ms Gillespie.
After passing her A’ Levels Jada was accepted by the prestigious Royal College of Music in London.
Fiona Peters from Think Therapy 1st believes the care package gave Jada a second chance at life: “She was at risk of disengaging and failing at something she was so brilliant at. It allowed her to believe in herself again and her talent has been secured and she can once again participate actively across all aspects of her life.”
Ms Gillespie added, “We’re all incredibly proud to know we’ve done all we can for Jada and that she now has the best possible future ahead of her. This multiple disciplinary team of Think Therapy 1st and Hudgell Solicitors has been able to facilitate a transformation.”
Brain and Head Injury Compensation Claims
Head and brain injuries can have a serious and lasting impact not only on the lives of the victim, but also those close to them, so it is crucial to have the right network of specialised support.
When making a head or brain injury compensation claim through our specialist team at Hudgell Solicitors, you will be provided with immediate support and guidance, whilst our lawyers work to ensure the earliest possible rehabilitation care and financial assistance.
Please download a full copy of our Life Changing Injury Handbook.