How we helped secure over £1.64 million for a CRPS claimant whose life was changed by a car accident
After Caroline’s (we have changed our client’s name to protect her confidentiality) life was changed by a car accident which caused her to develop CRPS, our team helped her to get the rehabilitation she needed as well as significant compensation for her injuries.
Caroline was driving her car when suddenly a lorry pulled out of a slip road and collided with her car on the passenger side. Luckily the airbags were deployed; however Caroline’s knee hit the dashboard on impact.
Following the collision, Caroline was left unable to get out of her car as all of the doors were jammed. It wasn’t until the Fire Service cut her out that she was able to leave the car, a process which took approximately 45 minutes, whereupon the vehicle was found to be so badly damaged that it had to be written off.
The accident left Caroline with fractures in her collarbone and right wrist, as well as other soft tissue injuries. Her collarbone was left so badly damaged that it required surgery in order for it to fully heal and leave her without pain.
However, this was not to be. Despite the surgery, Caroline continued to suffer intense pain. As a result of these injuries, and their inability to heal, Caroline went on to develop Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), affecting both her arms – although her right was most affected. She was told that the condition was likely to be permanent.
How CRPS changed Caroline’s life
Experiencing constant pain in the whole of her right arm, across her upper back and over her right shoulder bone (which then went on to spread to her left arm), Caroline had to make huge adjustments to her life just to try and live normally.
Caroline underwent hydrotherapy to try and reduce her pain. Caroline couldn’t lean back in a chair without a heat pad, due to the pain in her back. She needed a heat pad in bed, as the pain increased at night. If her arm became cold, or was knocked, the pain would then instantly increase again. Throughout the day she was reliant on medication to try and reduce the pain she experienced, but never relieving it. Her life had changed massively.
Pain wasn’t Caroline’s only problem, though. She found she suffered constant fatigue, worsening throughout the day.
Physical issues were only half of Caroline’s experiences following the accident, though. She was not able to return to her job as a Nurse Practitioner after the accident, but instead – a cruel twist – had to rely on friends and family for gratuitous care.
Understandably, Caroline also found the accident extremely frightening and suffered from nightmares and flashbacks, and travelling in a car now triggered extreme anxiety. She was unable to return to driving herself initially due to her physical injuries, and due to her anxiety avoided travelling with many drivers and selected drivers for journeys.
Fortunately Caroline received a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which helped her to seek and receive psychological intervention. This enabled her to use public transport, improving her self-confidence and giving her an opportunity to manage her anxiety with travelling. Following counselling, Caroline returned to driving short journeys.
Finding the right legal advice for CRPS
As many claimants in similar situations do, Caroline initially turned to legal help suggested by her insurers. However, it soon became obvious that their understanding of CRPS – a condition which requires expert knowledge – appeared to be limited. She therefore searched for a solicitor who had an in-depth understanding of CRPS, which is when she found Louise Hart, partner in our Personal Injury team.
With the strong links that Louise and our CRPS team have with the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases in Bath (“The Mineral Hospital), as well as Louise’s expert support, Caroline attended two residential pain management programmes at the hospital in July 2016 and November 2016, where she learned techniques to manage her pain. These have proven to be very beneficial to her as she comes to terms with her condition.
Throughout the claim, Louise secured interim payments totalling £80,000 for Caroline, obtaining medico-legal evidence from experts in CRPS to support Caroline’s claim. On 28th September 2018, and following Louise’s advice, Caroline was awarded just over £1.64 million.