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.
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.
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.