Our client, Bobby (not his real name), sustained a moderately severe brain injury following a road traffic accident when he was 11 years old.
Bobby got off a bus and then ran out into the road from behind the bus and was hit by a car. The car driver’s insurance company said the accident was not the driver’s fault because Bobby had run out into the road and by the time Bobby was visible to the driver, he had no time to avoid hitting him.
In order to progress Bobby’s claim, we started court proceedings against the driver. Before the trial to decide who was to blame for the accident, we met with the car driver’s legal team to explore whether it was possible to reach an agreement about this point. We wanted to make sure that Bobby was properly compensated for his injuries, but we recognised that there was a real risk that the trial judge would decide that the driver was not to blame for the accident. If this happened, Bobby’s claim would fail and he would not be entitled to any compensation. We agreed how to share the blame between Bobby and the driver. This meant that although he would not receive the full value of his claim, Bobby would receive a substantial share of the compensation he could claim, which would help ensure the majority of his needs were met for the rest of his life.
Because of his brain injury, Bobby experienced significant behavioural problems which included outbursts of anger, aggression, defiance, impulsivity and poor emotional regulation. He also had issues with poor motivation, concentration and short-term memory. His symptoms meant that he had a history of failing to engage with rehabilitation, education and support and he was excluded from several schools. He began to regularly use cannabis and started getting into trouble with the police. He was found guilty of shoplifting and for possessing cannabis.
His criminal activity was becoming more serious as he started associating with other young people in the local area who were older than he was and had more serious criminal convictions and drug habits. He started using harder drugs like cocaine. All of the professionals involved in Bobby’s case were concerned that he was heading for a life of drug addiction, prison sentences and poor health (both physical and mental health).
We actively wanted to offer Bobby another path that involved security, stability, good health and happiness. We recognised that we had to help Bobby manage his symptoms more effectively so that he was supported to make better choices and decisions. The court agreed that we could use some of Bobby’s compensation (from an interim payment) to pay for therapy, care and support for Bobby. We focussed on setting up an effective rehabilitation and care package as quickly as possible. This was to help Bobby manage his symptoms more effectively, so that he was supported to make better choices and decisions.
We engaged a Case Manager who had experience of working with young men with acquired brain injury and whose symptoms had led to criminal behaviour and drug addiction. The case manager put together a team of high calibre healthcare professionals which was led by a Neuropsychologist. They devised a comprehensive rehabilitation programme for Bobby which meant that Bobby received therapy and support from a number of professionals including a Neuropsychologist, Neuro-Occupational Therapist, Rehabilitation Assistants, and a Counsellor and Addiction Therapist.
Due to Bobby’s previous lack of engagement with rehabilitation, the team worked hard to find creative ways of securing Bobby’s interest and cooperation with the programme. They included a schedule of activities for Bobby to undertake with the rehabilitation assistants who were young dynamic men who acted as role models and mentors for Bobby. Activities included things like playing football which Bobby had enjoyed and played to a high standard before his accident. During these sessions, the rehabilitation assistants modelled positive behaviour, taught life skills, and worked through the goals set by the other professionals in the team. Bobby was motivated by money and therefore in return for participating in the programme, and completing what was expected of him each week, Bobby received a small allowance (wage) to help keep him engaged with the programme.
All of the medical experts in his case agreed that the rehabilitation programme had been beneficial to Bobby and had made a positive difference to his life. Bobby gained independence and increased confidence because he now had a better understanding of the impact of his brain injury on his behaviour and decision making. He also learnt strategies to help him cope with difficult situations and make positive life choices. He had structure and routine which had been lacking in his life.
The programme’s broad aim was to improve Bobby’s ability to live a secure and fulfilling life through specific focus on the development of communication, accountancy and life skills which would improve his quality of life. With help from his therapy team, Bobby set goals for his life which included living independently in his own home, learning to drive, having a job and going on holiday. The therapy team helped Bobby work towards achieving those goals.
We negotiated a lump sum settlement when Bobby was 18 years old which included a substantial sum to pay for future case management, therapy and support to ensure Bobby could continue to access the care and support he needed to continue to live a happy, healthy and fulfilling life. At the time of settlement, Bobby’s future was looking more positive. His criminal involvement had stopped; he was in a relationship, had enrolled on a residential course to help him learn a trade and had plans to use some of his compensation to buy a house.
Without his compensation claim, Bobby would not have had access to the rehabilitation, care and support which helped him understand the nature of his brain injury and symptoms and helped him turn his life around.
This article was produced by Cheryl Abrahams, Partner in the Child Brain Injury team at Bolt Burdon Kemp
About Bolt Burdon Kemp
Bolt Burdon Kemp have over 30 years’ experience in achieving strong results in complex claims involving adults and children with brain injuries and are pro-active in arranging quick and effective rehabilitation for their clients.
They are recognised as a leading law firm in the field of brain injury by both the Chambers and Partners and the Legal 500 guides to the legal profession.
Bolt Burdon Kemp are based in London and can act for anyone injured in England or Wales.
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