An alcoholic who suffered multiple skull fractures and bleeding on the brain when he was hit by a taxi on a dual carriageway now has ‘stability’ in his life, thanks to rehabilitation support and a compensation settlement of £410,000.
Hudgell Solicitors represented John Boulter, 57, from Birmingham, in a case quite unique in its circumstances as doctors believe his accident, and his subsequent injuries and treatment, may have actually prolonged his life.
Those close to Mr Boulter had feared he was drinking himself into an early grave prior to his accident in December 2007, from which he also suffered a damaged shoulder, a shattered ankle, broken ribs and damaged glands in his eye.
However, the father-of-two and grandfather-of-three has not touched a drop of alcohol since, having also suffered from memory loss and become tee-total as a result.
He also found a new life partner in Christine Bearley, a nurse who helped him battle back to fitness during his rehabilitation, a key part of the support services provided by Hudgell Solicitors, which handled his compensation claim.
Karen Smith, senior litigation executive and acquisition team manager at the law firm, admits it was a rare and unusual case.
“To some extent, the accident changed Mr Boulter’s life for the worse, as he will be unable to work for the rest of his life, but then it has also changed for the better, as he could not remember he was an alcoholic,” she said.
“Had he continued to drink, medical evidence confirmed his life would have been cut short. Although the accident has actually reduced his life expectancy, he now lives a tee-total life and he may now live longer than he would have before the accident.
”Through his rehabilitation, a key element of support which Hudgell Solicitors make a priority in all cases involving serious injury, Mr Boulter met Christine, who nursed and cared for him, and they became so close that they are now a couple.”
Following his accident, Mr Boulter spent just over four months in hospital and had to undergo surgery on his ankle, as well as three months of physio on his shoulder. Doctors said it was too dangerous to operate on his head due to his brain injury.
He was eventually awarded more than £1m in compensation, but as he was found 60 per cent liable for the accident which caused his injuries, it was reduced to £410,000 as a final settlement figure, approved by the High Court.
“John means everything to me. I think we would be lost without each other,” said Mrs Bearley.
“We all say the accident saved his life. He doesn’t remember being an alcoholic. He hates alcohol now and doesn’t touch a drop.
“The doctors didn’t expect him to survive after his accident, but he did and now at least we are together. I worry about him and he won’t do anything without me. He says ‘you’re my carer and you’ve got to be there’. I feel proud he trusts me so much.”
Although now a couple, Mrs Bearley says life can be tough, as Mr Boulter has been left with mental health problems, including a fear of spending prolonged periods of time outside, mood swings, and a fear of electrical items and water. He suffers panic attacks and memory loss – although that has brought its benefits.
“It’s not a case of ‘great, we can go on holiday,” added Christine, referring to the compensation he received for his injuries. “He will only go out when it’s necessary. He had a social life before. I’m deaf and wear a hearing aid, so when he’s asleep, I’m constantly checking him to see if he is okay.”
Mr Boulter, who previously earned a good wage moving and restoring machinery for factories, said he was thankful just to be alive.
“I have been devastated by the accident, but I have got to be thankful that I am alive, and to the doctors who saved my life,” he said.
“I’m on tablets for the rest of my life, but now I’ve now got Christine. I’ve been told the compensation is what I deserve for what I have had to go through. It will give me more help and stability, as things are difficult for me.
“I used to be a worker. Now, if there was a job, I couldn’t do it because I wouldn’t be able to cope with it.”
Mr Boulter was struck by the car on a dual carriageway in December 2007. His settlement was agreed at a joint settlement meeting and finally approved at Birmingham High Court after years of legal wrangling.
Mrs Smith said she hoped the couple could now enjoy life together, and said she was determined throughout the case to get them the best result and support.
“The couple thanked me for my support and for speaking and advising them in layman’s terms, rather than using legal jargon which they were unfamiliar with,” she said.
“Mr Boulter requires stability and doesn’t deal well with change. Whilst it is always key to building a professional relationship with clients, it was especially so in this case, as he wanted to ensure he liked the person that was dealing with his case. He put his trust in both myself and Christine.
“Mr Boulter has very little concentration, but as we both have a love of horse racing, I was able to interact with him on a personal level, and a little light hearted conversation helped him through the legal process.