Hudgell Solicitors are providing a full package of rehabilitation support to 54-year-old Svilen Milhov, who was left paralysed after being injured as a bus passenger in a motorway crash last year.
The ongoing personal injury claim has helped his family recently move into a new dormer bungalow, which has been specially adapted to ensure there is more space to accommodate his wheelchair.
He is planning to fly home to Bulgaria to give his eldest daughter away at her wedding.
A father left paralysed in a motorway accident last year is preparing to fly to Bulgaria next week to give his daughter away at her wedding.
Svilen Milhov suffered a broken spine in the crash which claimed the lives of three people last October.
He was airlifted to hospital where he needed blood draining from his chest, having also suffered two broken ribs, a collapsed lung, liver damage, a ruptured spleen and blood vessel tears. He was in intensive care for three weeks and spent months in specialist spinal units.
Mr Milhov says there were days when he found it difficult to find any positivity or happiness, with his only thoughts being worry as to how his family would cope in the future.
Yet today he is preparing to fly more than 2,000 miles to be by his daughter Dilyana’s side, as she ties the knot in the family’s homeland of Bulgaria.
Mr Milhov, who has lived and worked in the UK since 2005, says the forthcoming wedding – and the support he has received to help him to begin rebuilding his life – has lifted his spirts, helping him and his family put their darkest days behind them.
“My daughter’s wedding is something we are all very excited for and excited about, and I will be there for her big day no matter what,” said Mr Milhov, 54.
“This accident changed not only my life completely, but all of my family’s lives.
“In the first few weeks and months I was very worried about our future as a family and I wondered how we’d cope without me being able to work. I was really quite down about what had happened to me, and how it affected everybody I loved. It was a very worrying time.
“What I never expected was the amount of support and help we have been given as a family. It has been amazing and I can’t thank people enough.
“Travelling to Bulgaria to be with Dilyana as she get married will be a wonderful day and not something I could have ever imagined I would have been doing not so long ago. I am feeling positive again, and also very grateful for what has been done for me to help me get to the stage I am at today.
“I have my daughter’s wedding to look forward to, and I am so happy that I will be there. It is obviously still a very difficult time, but an exciting time also.
”Wedding was planned whilst still recovering in hospital
It was whilst Mr Milhov was still in hospital that Dilyana’s partner, Hristo Kaloyanov, visited him to ask for his permission to marry her
Permission was duly granted and the proposal accepted, but all the family knew they still faced many huge hurdles to get Mr Milhov home and well enough to have any chance of travelling to Bulgaria to make the wedding on August 31.
“The proposal and wedding has been a big help as it has given Svilen something to feel positive about and work towards,” said his wife Ainura.
“At that time he was really struggling to find any positivity as he was really worried not only about how the accident and injuries had affected his life, but the impact on our lives too. He’d really struggle to sleep at nights as he was so worried.
“Hristo told him he had three beautiful roses in his garden, as Svilen has three daughters, and asked if he could take one. It was a lovely moment and everybody was very emotional, as out of such an awful time something really exciting, and happy, was happening.
“Initially Dilyana said she’d wait to get married but Svilen didn’t want that to happen. He wanted the wedding to be in Bulgaria and he wanted to be fit enough to be there. In many ways it has given him a real focus to progress and become more independent.
“He is so determined he is going to be there and there is simply no way he’d miss his her wedding, or even let her think of postponing it. It is something which is really motivating him every day to do as much as he can himself, whilst all of the family are doing all we can to help him, both here and in preparing for the wedding in Bulgaria.
“We’ve had to do so much in preparation, from planning to take ramps with us and all the equipment Svilen needs to fly to finding suitable hotels. We’ve had to send family in Bulgaria to check out hotels and the church to make sure we are prepared for the challenges we will face.
“To see him at Dilyana’s side on the wedding day will be so special for us all. Quite how we’ll do it, and how he’ll do it, we don’t yet know, but it will happen, and it will be quite amazing.”
Medical and legal support has provided specialist care and adapted new home
Mr Milhov was one of a number of people seriously injured when the minibus he was travelling in was involved in a serious road traffic accident with an HGV on the M4 near Newbury, on October 11 last year.
In his role as an autism practitioner he had been travelling with a group from Prior’s Court School, Thatcham, Berkshire, as they returned from taking three young adults with severe autism to a work placement.
Three members of staff from the school, including the minibus driver, died as a result of the accident, while two others, including Mr Milhov, were seriously injured. The three young adults were also rushed to hospital for assessment and treatment, but were not seriously hurt.
Since the accident he has been supported by intensive care staff at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, staff at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon and also the Spinal Treatment Unit in Salisbury District Hospital.
Life at home has also benefitted from specialist and dedicated support.
Personal injury experts Hudgell Solicitors have collaborated with solicitors and insurers, with the parties involved agreeing to instruct a specialist spinal injury case manager who has been dedicated to meeting all of Mr Milhov’s physical, psychological and medical needs.
It has seen a complete package of support provided to help him make the best possible recovery, and to promote the best possible return to independent living.
Prior to the accident he and his wife Ainura had lived in a two bedroomed rented flat in Swindon with their seven-year-old daughter Nadine and Mr Milhov’s 84-year-old mother, Nadezhda.
Interim payments secured as part of an ongoing personal injury legal claim have helped the family recently move into a new dormer bungalow, which has been specially adapted to ensure there is more space to accommodate his wheelchair.
A ground floor bedroom and shower room has also brought him greater independence.
Weekly sessions of physiotherapy, occupational therapy and support from a spinal unit psychologist are further assisting his recovery, with the costs of child minding for Nadine also provided to allow Ainura to return to work.
Life is far from returning to the norm, but the progress is something all are positive about.
“Life changed forever for us all in an instant but even now today it is incredibly difficult for us all to understand, adapt and accept,” said Ainura
“I still feel we are all processing what happened. I’m sure other people who suffer feel the same, but to us it was like something you see in a movie, where life is shattered in a moment. When the accident happened I simply couldn’t believe it. You can’t begin to prepare for how life changes after something like this.
“The focus initially was seeing Svilen get physically better and getting him home, but then you are faced with so much more difficulty and I think that has been what Svilen has found really difficult to adapt to. He struggles to accept what has happened to him and who he is now.
“He finds it hard to accept his life is this struggle, that he is at home and he is needing help and assistance.
“He has made big improvements since we were moved into our new bungalow and it has made a huge difference to his life quality and progress. The wedding is the next big, positive step, in so many ways.”
Solicitor says long-term support will be provided
Specialist catastrophic injury claims solicitor Samuel McFadyen, of Hudgell Solicitors, says he has been delighted to see Mr Milhov progress to a stage which has made travelling to his daughter’s wedding a possibility.
He said: “This was a very serious and tragic accident from which Mr Milhov was lucky to survive, but obviously left with significant life-changing injuries.
“We have been pleased to be able to offer legal support which has helped secure vital expert medical care and intervention for him, through the relevant insurers. This has already helped him to make very pleasing progress, aided I must say by his own determination and the superb support of his family.
“We have been able to secure funds which have been used to move the family into a new rented property which has also been specifically adapted to meet Mr Milhov’s needs.
“Plans are in place to convert one room of the home into an area dedicated to physiotherapy and exercise, which will be another benefit and so helpful to his recovery.
“Although Mr Milhov has some major uncertainties ahead of him with regards to the extent of physical recovery he eventually makes, it is clear that his determination and desire to get better will help him greatly.
“We sincerely hope he and his family have the most fantastic of days at his daughter’s wedding later this month. They certainly deserve it.”