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16 May 2023 | Case Study | Article by Cari Sowden-Taylor

Reflections during Awareness for Brain Injury Week and UN Global Road Safety Week


Brain injury charity, Headway, focuses this year, during Action for Brain Injury Week, on a powerful statistic: every 90 seconds, someone in the UK is admitted to hospital with a brain injury.

Strokes, falls, road traffic collisions, assaults, brain tumours, meningitis are just a few examples of brain injury causes.

Cari Sowden-Taylor, Partner and National joint head of the serious injury team regularly meets families whose lives are sadly turned upside down following a brain injury.

“It only takes a few seconds for a life to be completely knocked off course. Brain injuries can have devastating, life-long effects on anyone, including you and your loved ones.” – Headway

Whilst reflecting on this I considered the impact that brain injury had had upon one of my clients and her family.

Case study

I recently concluded a claim for a female client who was injured in a road traffic collision as a teenager over 25 years ago.

For the purposes of this article, I will refer to my client as Sophie*.

First firm of solicitors

Sophie was a front seat restrained passenger; the driver of the car she was travelling in was killed as a result of the collision.

Sophie suffered a very severe traumatic brain injury which profoundly affected her, both cognitively and physically – she was wheelchair bound and needed a significant amount of support.

When she reached 18 years of age, the firm of solicitors who were representing her at the time ‘settled’ her claim but took no steps to approve the settlement or pay her compensation into a deputyship account despite her lack of capacity.

Within a few years Sophie’s compensation had been dissipated and she had nothing to fund her additional needs.

Professional negligence?

It was at that point that Hugh James was contacted and we investigated matters and concluded that there had been professional negligence as the first firm of solicitors had failed to take account of Sophie’s lack of capacity to manage her litigation and financial affairs.

Given that Sophie lacked capacity to manage her litigation, the settlement of her claim when she was 18 years old should have been approved by the court.

Also, given her lack of capacity to manage her financial affairs, her compensation should have been managed by a Deputy appointed by the Court of Protection.

Neither had been arranged for Sophie and so a team of specialist solicitors at Hugh James worked together to rectify matters for Sophie.

if you would like to speak to one of our specialist serious injury solicitors, then please get in contact with us.

Personal Injury claim

It has taken many years with input from the Professional Negligence Team, Serious Injury Team and Court of Protection Team at Hugh James, but we recently concluded Sophie’s personal injury claim and succeeded in obtaining an extremely significant sum which will enable Sophie to fund private care and therapies, Court of Protection Deputy and give Sophie opportunities which she did not previously have due to lack of funds.

The settlement Hugh James achieved was approved by the Court and Sophie’s compensation is now managed by the Hugh James Court of Protection team.

Getting right first time

Sadly, many individuals and families end up in situations similar to Sophie when legal advice has not been obtained from specialist brain injury solicitors right from the start.

Had Sophie had specialist solicitors acting on her behalf immediately following her injury, she would have had opportunity to engage in neuro-rehabilitation, 2:1 professional private care and her family would not have needed to provide round the clock care. Settlement of her claim would have been dealt with appropriately and protected for her future.

Sophie’s family have been incredible, but it has been extremely difficult for them over the years.

*name changed to protect anonymity

Speaking of the settlement, Sophie’s family said:

“I feel lucky that we found Hugh James Solicitors who put things right for Sophie. The Hugh James Serious Injury Team was fantastic from start to finish and they made the process, which was complex, as easy as possible for me as litigation friend. After all these years, it is reassuring to know that Sophie will be able to afford the care and support she needs for the future. Thank you for your friendly and professional support Cari and team.”

Cari Sowden-Taylor, Partner with conduct of Sophie’s personal injury claim said:

“I first met Sophie when she was in her 30s and over the last 5 years I have worked closely with Sophie’s sister (who was appointed as her litigation friend) to address Sophie’s needs both now and for the future. I am delighted that Sophie now has compensation to fund the private care she needs so that Sophie’s sister can take a step back. Sophie now has funds to enable her to explore her community, go on holiday, have an adapted vehicle, and whatever she needs for the rest of her life. To know that her compensation is protected and will last her for as long as she lives gives reassurance to her family, which is invaluable after all they have been through. It has been a pleasure to represent Sophie and I wish her and her family the very best for the future.”

Author bio

Cari is a Partner and Joint Head of the National Serious Injury Team, and specialises in representing adult and child claimants who have sustained life changing injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal injuries, limb loss and polytrauma following road traffic collisions, injuries at work and assaults.

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