Margaret’s story – life after the Bath tipper truck tragedy
When Margaret Rogers collected her four-year-old granddaughter from school on a wintery afternoon in February 2015, she had no way of knowing that her life was about to change forever.
As they crossed the road at the traffic lights on Lansdown Lane in Bath, Margaret and her young granddaughter were knocked down by a 32-tonne tipper truck which then crashed into a car, killing all three people inside.
Margaret, 68, suffered severe injuries and had to have both her legs amputated in hospital; her granddaughter died at the scene.
Now, two-and-a-half years after the accident, Margaret has spoken out about the tragic events that turned her life upside down, her remarkable recovery and the role that Maggie Powell, a personal injury solicitor at RWK Goodman, played in supporting her at every stage of her journey.
Meeting Maggie, her RWK Goodman solicitor
“I first met Maggie Powell in the hospital. My son-in-law had arranged for her to come and see me so she could explain how she was going to try and help me. She visited me often and then when I was finally discharged from the hospital, I was moved to a very small bungalow and Maggie came to see me there. She gradually explained more about my situation and the steps that were going to be taken to get compensation for me to buy the equipment I needed to give me back my independence and for any alterations I might need to make to my house, when I was ready.
“Maggie reassured me that she would do the best she could for me. She didn’t want to go into too much at first as there was a great deal to do but said she would wait until I got stronger, so bit by bit I learned about the need for reports, equipment and the various groups that were interested in my welfare. If you haven’t got a specialist solicitor you will be continually on the phone, continually stressed, continually anxious. Maggie was able to take all that off my shoulders and I trusted her completely. I was able to get on and get myself better and leave all those great files of things that needed to be done on Maggie’s shoulders.
“I knew nothing about the legal process. I don’t think most people do, so it was good having someone who was professional and efficient as well as someone who looked after me in so many ways. In fact, I’d say Maggie has been the kingpin for the last two-and-a-half years. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without her.
“She was very knowledgeable and very experienced. There were times when I didn’t understand and she would take the time to go through things, putting them in writing and talking about it again if I needed her to.
“I think without Maggie Powell’s patience I would have been in trouble. It would have made my life much, much harder. It’s worked out really well. We’ve had a really good relationship and I haven’t felt foolish or worried about speaking to her. She reassured me and I felt secure it would all come together in the end. It’s been vitally important to have a good solicitor.”
Regaining her independence
Margaret found life particularly difficult in the first few months after her injury, as she was very restricted in what she could do and effectively housebound. Maggie secured an interim payment which enabled Margaret to have an electric wheelchair, which gave her some degree of freedom and independence.
Therapists were engaged privately to help support and maximise Margaret’s recovery. A prosthetic assessment was arranged and Margaret was able to purchase state-of-the-art prosthetic limbs. The prosthetic limbs seen in the film are specifically designed for use in water to enable Margaret to swim in the sea and in pools.
Margaret’s rehabilitation was long and arduous but through sheer determination and effort she learned to walk again.
“I was elated,” she said. “I’d been off my legs for a long time so it felt wonderful to be able to get around again. I think it’s important not to feel sorry for yourself. You really need to be as independent as possible and try and get back to life as you knew it. Although you have changed physically, you are still the same person and you want people to see that.”
Compensation has played a huge part in Margaret’s recovery. The money awarded by the truck owner’s insurance company not only paid for Margaret’s prosthetic limbs and equipment, but it has also enabled her to buy a new home and have it adapted to make it suitable for her needs.
This, together with equipment, allows her to live independently. She said:
“Like anyone else who reads about people who get compensation you think, lucky them, you’ll be able to lead the high life, but the reality is, as you get older, even if you don’t have a serious disability, you are going to need a lot more help and a lot more adaptations around the home to enable you to get about. So for me, compensation means a great deal in as much as I can have some independence.
“Before the accident, I was very busy here, there and everywhere. I walked a great deal and was able to make arrangements without having to do much thinking. Since the accident, I have to do a lot of thinking before I can even go out the front door. You become extremely tired, fatigued, exhausted even, and so I try to keep my fitness levels going.
“I also try to do as much as I can in the house as that’s what I was used to. I’ve never had to ask for help and now I do, so that’s difficult. Also, I was able to care for my grandchildren, take them out and do all sorts of things and now I can’t. I can only walk for so long now and I have to watch my balance if I’m playing with the children. It’s a big loss, not having that freedom with the children.
“People are always offering help because they think you need it so its very easy for me to say oh yes, could you do this and could you do that, but you have to learn to say no and carry on and do as much of it as possible yourself. Not having to worry about how I’m going to pay my bills or for my care in the future is a huge weight off my mind. Compensation won’t change what has happened but it makes things a little bit easier.”