ABI Week 2018: A case study of the effect of brain injury on the family

15 May 2018 | Case Studies | Comment


In March 2005, Ashley Hiscocks sustained a severe traumatic brain injury and orthopaedic injuries after he was involved in a road traffic accident whilst driving his motorcycle through London. The defendant driver involved in the collision was uninsured and so the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) was appointed as the defendant.

I represented Ashley for a number of years and during that time a number of witness statements were obtained from friends and family which acknowledged the impact that Ashley’s brain injury had had upon relationships.

A significant interim payment was obtained which enabled us to put in place case management support and a comprehensive care package.  It also funded much needed psychological therapy and occupational therapy which helped Ashley and his family. We continue to represent Ashley following the settlement of the litigation and Andrew Harding, Partner and Head of the Court of Protection Department, acts as Ashley’s deputy and manages his financial affairs.

Ashley continues to experience difficulties with communication.  He struggles to concentrate, finds it difficult to find the right words and becomes frustrated and as a result, often snaps at the people who surround him.  He experiences memory difficulties and again becomes frustrated and sometimes has difficulty managing his temper and friends and family bear the brunt. Sadly this is the reality for many families following a traumatic brain injury – it doesn’t just affect the injured person, but has a ripple effect on loved ones.  For Ashley, it has, over the years, led to relationships breaking down.

Ashley told me:

I know that I just say the first thing that pops into my head – I don’t seem to have the filter these days and I can’t stop myself from saying comments which are hurtful.  I’m no longer able to think of the consequences of what I’m saying which can often have a detrimental impact upon relationships”.

On a positive note, Ashley has also gained friends that he never expected to gain.

It’s not just hurtful comments which friends and family have had to contend with. Since the injury, Ashley has struggled to cope with stressful situations and becomes more easily overwhelmed. Ashley’s wife, Nicola, has over the years learnt to recognise the warning signs which often occur before Ashley has an outburst. With help from specialist case managers and therapists, Ashley and Nicola have put in place strategies to help them manage these difficult times as a family. She says:

In the last couple of years, we have tried really hard to sort out difficulties ourselves as a family using strategies that we have been taught over the years. These can include Ashley writing down his frustrations and trying to turn negatives into positives.  He meets with his case manager and occupational therapist on a regular basis which helps us to manage the difficulties and challenges that Ashley’s brain injury brings.  We are grateful to have a very supportive team around us which was put in place by Hugh James. We have a fantastic support network and know who we can call upon whenever we need help. We have learnt that it is extremely important for Ashley to have regular routine and that structure to his week is key – he needs to be kept busy, but not overloaded.  Due to Ashley’s impulsivity, I am extremely relieved that Andrew Harding is appointed as Ashley’s deputy because he keeps Ashley’s finances under control and Ashley listens to him, whereas he would never listen to me.  Things have been difficult in terms of relationships within the family since Ashley’s brain injury, and we still have our ups and down, but 13 years on we are now better able to understand the challenges that Ashley’s brain injury brings. After all these years it is lovely to see our children happy.  It has taken us a long time to get there, but we are all now starting to move on.  Hugh James has over the years provided us with excellent legal advice and generic support- we know all of the team on first name terms and we trust them.”

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