When Thomas was hit by a car on a pedestrian crossing, his life was forever changed in an instant.
Aged 26 at the time, he had a busy and fulfilled social life, working as an assistant manager in a city centre cocktail bar and spending the majority of his time in the company of others.
Enjoying both his home and work life, his long-term future was not really something he’d given much consideration to.
Then, on November 4, 2013, everything changed.
His long-term future was no longer something he could decide upon himself and life was no longer about choosing a place to live, a career to pursue, or interests to enjoy, it was about making the best recovery he could – and for that he needed a dedicated network of support.
Accident caused extensive long-term physical and psychological injuries
Thomas was rushed to hospital following his accident as he had suffered a head injury, chest injury, fractured ribs and pneumothorax, fractured left tibia and fibula, a fractured left scapular, damage to the liver and a perforated bowel.
When eventually leaving hospital two months after his accident, Thomas found himself isolated and alone in his city centre Birmingham flat.
He was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and was suffering from a high degree of anxiety. His speech was affected, leaving him with a bad stutter, and he had problems with memory, organisation and planning, each of which had a major impact on his life and his recovery prospects at that stage.
He often struggled to sleep, having nightmares and waking up confused and shouting or screaming.
He also found it difficult to follow conversations, often choosing to avoid large gatherings, and struggled with his mood and temper when unable to do normal day to day tasks.
Personal injury claim enabled dedicated rehabilitation support package to be provided
Hudgell Solicitors took on Thomas’ case from another law firm and, at that stage, rehabilitation support had been minimal. It was quickly identified that as his physical treatment continued, he required a complete package of emotional and psychological support.
Experienced personal injury specialist Vicky Houghton, of Hudgell Solicitors, sought support from the outset from the defendant insurers in terms of covering the costs of a much-needed package of rehabilitation for Thomas.
Despite liability for the accident not being admitted at that stage, the insurers agreed to put the needs of Thomas first and cover the cost of his full rehabilitation.
A rehabilitation specialist, chosen for his extensive knowledge of the assessment and care of people with brain injuries, and also the impact it has on their social, working and family relationships, was jointly appointed to manage the case and instructed to carry out an initial needs assessment and structure a package of ongoing rehabilitation support.
It was with this in mind that initial support, aimed at reducing Thomas’ daily pain with physio, assessing the full impact of his brain injury, developing a speech and language strategy to help him retain information and referring him to a neurological occupational therapist to look at how he could better manage his day to day life, was agreed.
A dedicated team of supporting specialists, including a consultant orthopedic surgeon, physiotherapist, speech and language therapist, neuropsychologist and cognitive behavioural therapist was also established to ensure Thomas had the support he required in all aspects of his life.
Recovery beyond expectation as Thomas completes first year of University studies
Almost four years on from his accident, Thomas has made remarkable progress.
He is soon to start the second year of his degree course in Occupational Therapy at Coventry University and hopes to possibly use his qualification, and own experience of recovering from a serious injury, to help others in similar situations in the future.
So much has been his progress, his rehabilitation case manager described him as ‘one of the most rewarding cases’ he has ever handled.
He said: “If someone had told me from our first meeting that Thomas would now have completed his first year at University I would never have believed it.
“He has made massive progress and is now hugely motivated to keep improving his mind and body. It has been fantastic to see and it has been a case I have been extremely proud to have been involved in. Everybody involved deserves great credit for the positive impact they have had.”
Despite the huge progress, Thomas’ physical injuries are still impacting on him today. He required further surgery on his leg earlier this year, still walks with the aid of a stick, and remains unable to stand for long periods.
His psychological struggles continue also. He still suffers from nightmares from time to time, still has issues with his memory and needs support to manage day to day activities at home. However, major improvements have been made in all of these areas of his life.
Thomas feels positive, motivated and looking forward after support
Thomas said: “I can’t speak highly enough of the support I have received. After four very difficult years I do feel positive now and I feel like I can see the goalposts in sight.
“It is so difficult to start rebuilding your life after an injury like I suffered. I had a number of setbacks physically, suffering from septicemia and having complications a year later when my bowel collapsed again.
“I was initially in a wheelchair, and as I lived on the top floor of a block of flats, I suddenly found myself really isolated and cut off from life. They were difficult times, and you do find it hard to be motivated and positive.
“The support I have received has been fantastic. It has actually helped me to identify a new goal in my life and given me a career ambition to become an occupational therapist, which I would never have considered before having my accident.
“Without doubt the speech and language therapy has been crucial to my recovery and confidence.
“I know I still face many difficulties ahead and due to the impact of my injuries many aspects of my life are uncertain, I am looking forward now.”
His partner Eve added: “Tom is now a very different person to the one I met after his accident. For the first year and a half that I knew him it was very difficult. I’d be his second memory and he’d become frustrated with his struggle to speak, and angry how he couldn’t do simple things.
“Now he is confident, motivated and positive about his life ahead and the opportunities for him.
“Without the support Tom has benefitted from as a result of his legal claim, he would not have been where he is today and would not have been in a position to go to University as he has.
“Motivation has been a key part of his recovery, as at times his motivation has dropped, but all those around him have been there to lift him.
“He now wants to go out every day and push himself. This would never have been possible without all of the support he has had from Hudgell Solicitors and all of those involved in his case.”
Lawyers and insurers put injury victim first despite ongoing legal case over liability
The dedicated package of rehabilitation support was only possible as it was funded through defendant insurers long before liability was admitted.
Solicitor Vicky Houghton said: “At Hudgell Solicitors, we know the key to the best recovery is through providing a complete, tailored rehabilitation support package, and thanks to the great support of insurers we have been able to do this for Thomas.
“The impact the programme of support overseen by the case manager has been tremendous, with Thomas now having completed a year’s study at Coventry University, and recently moving in with his partner Eve.
“Key to the success has been not only the case manager’s dedication to providing the right package of support and specialists, but also the willingness of the insurers to trust his expertise and knowledge and agree to cover the cost of updated support packages for Thomas.
“Crucially, this has ensured that we have been able to provide relevant and timely support, meaning there have been no breaks or delays in rehabilitation, ensuring continued progress over the years.
“His rehabilitation programme has adapted as he has progressed and had changing needs, and most recently has helped him prepare for life at University, and in becoming more independent in everyday activities at home.
“We are delighted that Thomas has come a very long way with the support of the case worker and the rehabilitation put in place, and that we are all continuing to work closely as a team to ensure he continues to receive a complete package of support and compensation to meet his significant needs for the foreseeable future.”