21 December 2018 | Firm news | Article by Aidan Lloyd
Shaun Wareham suffered life-changing injuries when he was thrown from a car while on holiday in France. He spent over six years pursuing his claim with another firm of solicitors before asking Hugh James to take over his case. Our foreign accident specialist solicitors were able to secure Mr Wareham a settlement five times that offered to his previous solicitors within 12 months of our instruction.
In August 2009, Shaun Wareham, aged 21, travelled to southern France on holiday with four other friends. On 14 August 2009 Shaun and his friends were returning to the house between around 6 pm and 7 pm. Shaun was a backseat passenger in the Peugeot 206. About ten minutes into their return journey, the driver lost control of the vehicle.
“The last thing I remember is the screeching of tyres and the car rolling over about four or five times. I remember seeing the floor of the car and the sky on several occasions as we rolled. The next thing I remember is regaining consciousness in Tarbes Hospital with medical staff inserting staples into my head wound.”
Shaun had been thrown from the vehicle during the accident and knocked unconscious. He had sustained serious injuries including fracturing his spine at C4/C5, rupturing his spleen, numbness to his right arm, a fractured rib and a head laceration. Tragically, Shaun’s friend, who was just 19 at the time, was killed in the accident and two other passengers were critically injured.
Shaun was treated in Tarbes Hospital where he spent four days in intensive care. He spent a further week in the French hospital before being travelling back to the UK by ambulance; a journey that took 17 hours.
Shaun was required to wear a neck and body brace for three months to allow the fractures in his neck to heal and reduce the risk of sustaining a spinal cord injury. His injuries left him with chronic neck pain and limited his physical activities. This impacted on both his work and recreational activities.
Speaking in 2016, seven years after the accident, he said:
“I have pain in my neck all the time. It’s always aching and it flairs up depending on the activities or how physical I have been during the day. I have to constantly limit myself from doing things because I know how I am going to feel the next day.”
Shaun sought legal advice in relation to bringing a personal injury claim. He was referred by a well-known personal injury company to a firm in Manchester. However, after almost six and a half years, Shaun had reached the point where he thought the solicitors were unable to provide him with the support, expertise and advice he needed.
“At the time, I was unaware of the process of making a claim and they seemed quite professional. But as it went on they just didn’t seem to really care about my case. Looking back I think they were a bit out of their depth, they didn’t seem to know what they were doing between French and English law.”
The defendant had made an offer to settle the claim in the sum of €24,384 (approximately £18,000). Shaun’s previous solicitor’s advice had been to make a counter offer of around £24,500 or accept the defendant’s offer. Feeling backed into a corner and unhappy with the quality of advice he had received, Shaun contacted Hugh James to discuss taking over his case.
We took Shaun’s case and were able to achieve a settlement of £90,000 within 12 months of meeting with Shaun and three months before the case was due to go to trial.
“I’m definitely happy with how it ended but I think if I started with Hugh James, I would have been in a much better position and my case wouldn’t have been dragged out for so long. I was severely let down by the initial firm. The whole process with them was tiring and if I settled with them, I wouldn’t have received anywhere near the compensation that I needed. In regards to Hugh James and the final outcome, I couldn’t be happier.”
When we accepted instructions in Shaun’s case there was a lot of work to do to get it into shape. Additional witness statements and supporting evidence needed to be obtained and further experts needed to be instructed including an expert in French law. Our expertise in foreign accident claims was crucial in securing a successful outcome for Shaun.
Not all solicitors have the knowledge and required expertise to run foreign accident claims. There are the added issues of jurisdiction and applicable law, together with dealing with foreign defendants, experts and courts. This is in addition to the usual complexities of dealing with a serious injury claim.
This was a tragic and fatal accident involving young men who should have been enjoying a holiday. Instead, they suffered life-changing injuries and lost a friend. Their lives and the lives of their families have been permanently affected. Nothing can turn the clock back but we are happy to have helped Mr Wareham to secure a settlement that will give him some level of financial security and enable him to move forward with his life.
For more information about our experience with accidents abroad, visit our holiday accidents page.