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Long term package of rehabilitation has Thomas on the road to recovery after life-changing accident

Tom and Eve | Long Term Package of Rehabilitation has Thomas on the road to recovery


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 impaTom in Hospitalct 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.”

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06/09/2018 No Comments

Are ‘Woefully Wrong’ Stopping Distances Putting Drivers at Risk?

Traffic with brake lights | Highway Code Stopping Distances Woefully Inaccurate


Since its launch in 1931, the Highway Code has set the standard for driver safety in the UK. But now, a new study has emerged questioning the accuracy of the stopping distances cited in the Department of Transport’s famous rulebook, and the impact this could have on driver safety.

According to road safety campaigners, the stopping distances listed in the Highway Code don’t take into account the time it takes for a driver to think, and should be re-examined as a matter of urgency to ensure both new and experienced drivers aren’t misinformed on safe stopping distances.

The study, commissioned by road safety charity Brake, found that it takes around 1.5 seconds for a driver to react to a hazard and apply the brakes, over double the 0.37 seconds listed in the Code. That means a car travelling at 20mph would take 19 metres to stop — seven metres more than the Highway Code’s calculation.

The inconsistency in stopping distances is more alarming at faster speeds, with a 25-metre discrepancy for cars travelling at 70mph. This raises huge safety concerns, particularly for new drivers who lack the experience in knowing how long it takes to stop a car safely in an emergency.

Speaking to Sky News, Brake spokesman Jason Wakeford said the Government needs to increase the stopping distances listed in the Highway Code “as a matter of urgency”, and that current figures in the book “fall woefully short” in ensuring that motorists are aware of safe and accurate stopping distances.

Mr Wakeford said: “A true understanding of how long it takes to stop a car in an emergency is one of the most important lessons for new drivers. Understanding true average thinking time reminds all drivers how far their car will travel before they begin to brake — as well as highlighting how any distraction in the car which extends this time, like using a mobile phone, could prove fatal.”

Since the study was published, the Department for Transport has released a statement announcing that it’s in the process of investigating the findings, and may move to amend the Highway Code’s stopping distances in the future.

Stopping Distances and Distractions — A Disaster Waiting to Happen?

Foot on brake pedal | Stopping Distances in the Highway Code could present road safety risk

The Highway Code is built on the assumption that driving conditions are perfect, cars are properly maintained and motorists are always 100% alert, but this is rarely the case. Indeed, while vehicle brakes continue to improve in performance, a growing number of distractions behind the wheel may indeed mean that stopping distances are no different — perhaps worse — than they were a decade ago.

The latest study from Brake shows us that motorists need to be completely switched on at the wheel to achieve the stopping distances and reaction times quoted in their new research.

Despite tough new penalties and a seemingly endless number of awareness campaigns, some drivers continue to use a smartphone at the wheel — putting their life and the lives of others at risk.

From a motorist’s perspective, longer reaction times and delayed reaction times make for double trouble. It would be easy for the government to simply amend the stopping distances quoted in the Highway Code, but what good would this do while drivers continue to be distracted? The tricky part is tackling the ongoing problem of drivers using a phone at the wheel — and that’s the area that needs real consideration.

We await the Department of Transport’s decision on the issue of stopping distances in the Highway Code.

If you’ve been involved in an accident which wasn’t your fault, our road traffic accident solicitors can help you claim the compensation you need to get on the road to recovery. For more information, contact us today.

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26/07/2017 No Comments

Distracted driving through the eyes of a breakdown patrol officer

distracted driving


We should all know that since December 2003 driving whilst using a mobile phone is illegal, not to mention incredibly dangerous, yet recent research reveals that more than 500,000 motorists still pick up their phone when behind the wheel.

Using a mobile phone, whether it be hand-held or hands-free whilst driving holds a significant distraction to the driver and almost certainly increases the risks of crashing or causing an accident. Reports now suggest that using a hand-held device is even more dangerous than drink or drugs where at least 1 in 20 drivers under the age of 30 have been caught flouting the law.

Drivers who use a mobile phone are less aware of what’s happening on the road around them and are up to four times more likely to cause an accident. Even careful drivers can be distracted by a call or text – and a split-second lapse in concentration could result in sometimes very serious road traffic accidents.

We have teamed up with David Hartford, a Breakdown patrol officer, to demonstrate just how prevalent mobile phone use remains whilst behind the wheel of a car. He shares his first hand insight into some of the shocking things he sees on a daily basis whilst out on patrol in the UK and provides some road safety tips to help you stay safe.

Mobile phones – The Law

Using your mobile phone whilst driving has been illegal since December 2003. Below is a list of laws you may not be aware of:

  • It’s illegal to use a handheld mobile when driving.
  • This includes using your mobile phone to follow a map, read a text or check social media. This applies even if you’re stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic.
  • You can only use a handheld phone if you are safely parked or need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop.
  • If you’re caught using a handheld phone while driving, you’ll get 3 penalty points on your licence and a fine of £100. Points on your licence will result in higher insurance costs.
  • If you get just 6 points in the first two years after passing your test, you will lose your licence.
  • You may use a hands-free phone while driving but you can still be prosecuted if you’re not in proper control of your vehicle. The penalties are the same as being caught using a handheld phone.
  • The penalties for driving carelessly or dangerously when using a handheld or hands-free phone can include disqualification, a large fine and up to two years imprisonment.
  • *Source: Think! Road Safety – http://think.direct.gov.uk/

Over the years, successful awareness campaigns highlighting the dangers of drink-driving have contributed to its reduction leading to a stigma which increasingly deems it socially unacceptable.

This now has to happen for mobile use. Statistics that show such campaigns can assist to reduce driver reaction times by 35 per cent.

With the number of phone-related crashes rising and dozens of deaths being caused every year, national road safety charity Brake have launched a campaign to introduce new laws banning the use of hands-free phone systems in vehicles.

We support the notion of introducing tougher consequences for mobile use behind the wheel – whether it be texting, calling, filming or surfing social media – it has to become as socially unacceptable as driving after a drink, and should be subject to the stronger punishments in the courts.

Jane Woodcock of Hudgell Solicitors Said: “With drivers continuing to flout the laws around mobile phone use, putting people at risk, the only way to eradicate this danger would be for mobile phones to have to be placed in a closed space, such as the glove compartment when a car is being driven, and for hands-free calls to also be stopped.

“It may seem drastic action, but maybe drastic action is what is needed to get the message through and improve concentration levels behind the wheel.”

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17/06/2016 No Comments

How much room do you give a horse-rider, and should rules be clearer for drivers to reduce accidents on UK roads?

Horse riding accidents on the road


 

Good driving is about showing consideration for others at all times when behind the wheel, ensuring the decisions you take reduce the risk of accidents and injury on the roads.

Of course, we all like to think we are skilful and considerate drivers, doing our best to ensure we adhere to the laws of the roads. We know the key rules – and possible consequences – relating to breaking laws on speed, drinking, and using our phones, and drive accordingly.

However, what about the ‘grey areas’ of the rules on the roads, such as how to drive when approaching horse-riders?

It is a situation drivers will increasingly come across, and one in which that key skill of consideration is very much required.

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, given the increasing numbers of horse-riders on the roads, there is no firm law or clear guidance for motorists as to exactly how they should adapt their driving when approaching horse-riders to reduce the risk of accidents.

Unclear guidance for drivers to help reduce accidents

The Highway Code advises drivers to slow down and give room, yet does not give any idea of how much room should be left between vehicle and horse, or what speed is considered safe. It is left to the individual’s interpretation.

The British Horse Society recently revealed that there have been more than 2,000 reports of accidents involving horses on UK roads since 2010, with almost one in ten resulting in a fatality.

And according to a survey they conducted, three in four accidents happened because the vehicle passed the animal without allowing enough space.

It is an increasing problem, as in 2012 a total of 165 accidents were recorded, but this figure had risen by nearly 50 per cent to 316 in 2015. Over the past five years there have been 36 rider deaths in the UK, and 181 horse deaths.

A spokesperson for the charity said a major problem was that many drivers are unsure how to behave when near a horse, and it now calling for legislation to be introduced to set a statutory 15mph law when passing horses.

Earlier this year, horse carriage master Mark Evans was injured and his horse Wil was killed after being hit by a car as he pulled a funeral cortege in Wales. The tragic case received national media attention and prompted petitions calling for greater protection from the Government for horse riders.

Road accident victims often require long-term support

At Hudgell Solicitors, we see the devastation often caused by careless driving and misjudgements of drivers behind the wheel. People can be left needing life-long support and treatment, and in some cases, errors in judgement can prove fatal.

Our personal injury compensation specialists have also supported many people who have fallen from horses, falls which often leave the individual with serious injuries which can have a long-term impact on their day-to-day life, or result in long periods off work.

Given the statistics, we agree that the introduction of clear guidance and legislation for drivers relating to horse-riders should help reduce the number of casualties.

Horses are prone to being nervy and bolting, and a revving engine, loud music, or beeping of a car horn could result in serious injury to a rider, horse, motorist or a passer-by.

Perhaps it is time for Government took greater notice of the worrying increase in accidents and injuries on the roads relating to horse riders, and took steps to ensure new laws are both incorporated into the Highway Code, and adopted by motorists from the moment they pass their tests.

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22/04/2016 No Comments

Adapting driving behaviour is key to lessening risk on the roads during cold weather snap

By Matt Tuff, road accident compensation claims specialist at Hudgell Solicitors

Plunging temperatures – perhaps as low as -15C – and several inches of snow are being forecast across parts of the UK for the coming days, and are expected to cause chaos on the roads.

Yet, despite this big change in climate and conditions, which has widely reported over the past week, how many of us will be prepared, and perhaps more importantly, change the way we drive?

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13/01/2016 No Comments

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