Just how much should you be entitled to following a life-changing accident?
I was involved In a nasty collision, where liability was quickly admitted. I had two burst fractures in my spine. It sounds very dramatic, but my spinal cord was intact and I had been left with what amounts to really severe backache.
My solicitors arranged for me to see a spinal surgeon, and the spinal surgeon told them that I had “pre-existing degeneration” In my spine, and the problems I now have with these two burst fractures in my spine would have happened, anyway, within three to five years.
I am 49 years old, I served 12 years in the Army and until the accident I was competing In triathlon and time Trial Cycling. I admit that I had the occasional aches and pains, and I occasionally saw my doctor for back pain for which I was usually prescribed Diclofenac, but not more than once or twice a year. I was super fit before this accident. Now I am a-fat unfit blob that can’t get out of bed properly.
My solicitors have got a barrister’s report on my case value (why they could not do it themselves I do not know, especially at the hourly rates they charge) and the sum they are suggesting I should be taking for my injuries is £12,000, which is totally inadequate. My own research from the judicial guidelines says that my claim should be worth between £23,000 and £32,000 which still is not anywhere near enough for the life change that I have to go through, as a result of these injuries. Please tell me that my solicitors have got it wrong and I’m being mugged.
Unfortunately, the advice is about right. The reason they went to a barrister rather than did it themselves was because they wanted to use the shield of ‘independent counsel’, but any practitioner who practices in the field of personal injury will know that people who have been involved in heavy trades or have done a lot of sport in mid-middle age start wearing their bones out. You and I are of similar age, and both of us enjoy our sport. I had to have my neck X-rayed following a chip fracture and sure enough, the doctor told me that the uncomfortable pain I had in my neck had been accelerated by a couple of years, but because of wear and tear from various sports. It was going to happen sometime anyway.
Your surgeon has had to make. a decision based on his expertise, and he has determined that your back would have given you significant problems within three to five years of the accident date anyway. He describes “significant deterioration” and “spondylosis” which is advanced and caused by “age-related deterioration and hard physical labour”.
To put It bluntly, your back was worn out and It was only a matter of time before soldiering and extreme sport caught up with you. The surgeon based his advice on x-rays showing your worn-out spine.
I am not going to critique the barrier’s opinion, nor the orthopaedic surgeon’s report. The barrister is a 10-year qualified barrister at a decent set of chambers. The surgeon I know as a specialist spinal surgeon. I cannot criticise either of their professional judgement. Because you have an acceleration you find yourself in a different bracket to what you would have been in had there been no acceleration of pre-existing conditions.
I also note that the barrister has said £12,000 is your bottom line, and he is suggesting making an opening offer at between £15,000 and £17,000. I think that is sound advice, I am sure you will never accept that the problems you now have with your back have been accelerated, and would have happened by the time you were in your early to mid-fifties.
The barrister advising you must base his advice on the on the same evidence as will be going before court, and I think the bracket which the barrister has suggested of not less than £12,000 but no more than £15,000 is about right.
Fast Bikes March 2017