XY, a young woman in her early twenties, sustained a life-changing spinal cord injury when her car was hit by a stolen vehicle as she drove home from work.
Charlotte Foster, a senior associate in our Personal Injury department, had day-to-day conduct of XY’s claim and outlines the progression and key features of the claim.
XY was driving in the inside lane of a dual carriageway when a stolen car being driven in the outside lane in excess of the speed limit collided into the offside of her car. This caused XY’s car to leave the carriageway and roll down an embankment. As a result, XY sustained a spinal cord injury and is now an incomplete tetraplegic.
Even before her injury, XY was living with a genetic condition that meant she had additional needs. Notwithstanding this, she was living life to the full. She was employed full-time in a job she loved and had an avid enthusiasm for motorsports and baking.
Admission to hospital
Following the collision, XY was taken to hospital, where she remained in intensive care for several weeks. She subsequently underwent inpatient treatment and rehabilitation and was eventually discharged home nine months later.
Instruction of Stewarts and Rehabilitation
XY and her family instructed Dan Herman of Stewarts shortly after she was injured. The claim was brought against Ageas, the insurer of the other car. From the outset, Ageas made it clear they would do all they could to assist XY. She had been transferred to a spinal injuries centre a long way from home, where she felt lonely and isolated. The defendant team was sympathetic to her situation and agreed to fund private inpatient rehabilitation much closer to her family. That compassionate and forward-thinking approach was maintained by the defendant team – Tony Stanger of Ageas, Blaise Smith and Marta Bloch of Weightmans, and Stephen Grime KC of Deans Court Chambers – throughout the life of the claim, which ran for just over five years.
Ageas voluntarily provided nearly £2.5m in interim payments over the course of the claim to fund XY’s rehabilitation, care, accommodation, equipment and transport. The availability of funding meant that, before she was even discharged from hospital, XY had the benefit of a specialist spinal injury case manager, professional care and the involvement of a team of therapists who ensured she received the occupational therapy, neuro-physiotherapy and hydrotherapy she required.
XY’s pre-accident home was no longer suitable to meet her needs, so a suitable rental property was sourced and paid for via interim payments. She was also able to purchase a wheelchair-accessible vehicle.
While the availability of interim payments and all they have funded has greatly assisted XY, she would not have been able to make the progress she has with her recovery had she not demonstrated a huge amount of determination and resilience. She also had the unwavering support of her family.
In assessing XY’s prognosis and future needs, both parties obtained expert evidence from a range of experts. Stewarts instructed hugely experienced barristers – Gerard McDermott KC and Toby Coupe – who advised throughout the claim. Although a mediation proved unsuccessful, a settlement was agreed shortly afterwards on excellent terms: a £23m lump sum and provisional damages to guard against the risk that she might in the future develop syringomyelia causing a deterioration in her neurological function. XY’s capacity fluctuated during the claim, which posed challenges for both parties. The court approved the settlement in early November 2023.
XY is now set to buy her own property, which will include an adapted kitchen so she can continue with her pre-accident passion for baking.
This case has been a true exemplar of how a personal injury claim should be conducted, with cooperation and collaboration between the parties from beginning to end.
After the settlement of her case was approved by the court, XY’s mother and Litigation Friend said:
“The professional yet down-to-earth approach of Stewarts has been nothing but outstanding. We cannot thank them enough for the way in which we have been kept completely in the loop with all aspects of the claim. Without all of their hard work, my daughter would not have the financial security she needs for her future. As a parent, I could not ask for more. I would highly recommend Stewarts to anyone who needed legal help.”
XY said: “The work Stewarts has done for me has been outstanding. With their help, my claim has given me the funds I need for my future. A big thank you to them.”
Senior paralegal Varsha Chandrasegaran contributed to this article.