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Cycling spinal injury - Richard's story

Cyclists in traffic
I have now recovered enough compensation to make me financially secure for life. – Richard Ingham
On 17th September 2010 my life changed forever when I was injured in an accident as I cycled to work. I was 51 at the time and was left tetraplegic with severe daily neuropathic pain. I am now wheelchair dependant and have limited use of my hands. I was hospitalised and had intense rehabilitation for months after my accident.  

I had been a keen cyclist and was a member of British Cycling. Whilst I was in hospital BC referred me to Leigh Day as they specialise in very serious injuries. 

My lawyer obtained an early admission of liability from the defendant driver’s insurers who agreed to implement the rehabilitation code. By the time I was discharged from hospital Leigh Day had arranged a case manager for me, and 24/7 care so that I could be looked after at home. She had also found new rented accommodation for me since my pre-accident home was totally unsuitable for me and had to be sold. She organised a therapy regime, including hydrotherapy which eases my pain.

The value of my claim was in dispute and my lawyer started Court proceedings in 2012. Due to the severity of my injuries each side obtained numerous reports from experts in different fields - eight experts for each side.

My lawyers, Sally Moore and Lorna Bidston, explained to me that it was far from unusual for experts in the same fields to have very different opinions which they did in my case on key issues such as the level of care needed, the value of the accommodation claim and whether I should be able to recover for expensive items such as a home pool and an exoskeleton.

The defendant’s spinal expert suggested late in the day that I should have yet more intense rehabilitation arguing that I could be more independent which and thus less dependent on my carers. They hoped this would significantly reduce the very hefty annual cost of my care which they would be compensating. I therefore attended a two month residential rehabilitation course in Spring 2014.

This backfired on the defendant as during the intensive rehab I had pain in my shoulders and elbows. This lead my treating spinal expert to recommend that in future virtually all my transfers should be hoisted ( instead of by sliding board) to protect my upper limbs from unnecessary wear and tear.  My manual handling expert advised that this meant two carers were required with a resulting significant increase in the cost of my care. The defendant’s experts disagreed.

I had lost my job due to my injuries and my care and case management was costing over six figures per year. My lawyers were able to obtain large interim payments throughout the case totalling £1.5 million which enabled me to cover my expenses including a private care team, my therapies, to buy a suitable car and equipment including a powered standing wheelchair which I use to  pursue my passion for outdoors photography. The high level of interim payments obtained also meant I could buy a house before my case settled. Leigh Day made Court applications when the defendant would not agree to the high sums requested. Leigh Day also arranged for a trust to be set up to hold my compensation so that my entitlement to DSS Benefits was not affected.

My accommodation claim was complicated. My lawyers explained that due to my shortened life expectancy the conventional legal approach would leave me with a significant shortfall in the sum I actually needed to buy a new home. They advised me on alternative/ novel types of accommodation claim.

In November 2014 the defendant made an offer which I rejected on my lawyers’ advice. The opposition argued, based on their expert evidence, that the clam was worth far less than the sums we put forward.

The defendant objected to some of my key evidence but my lawyers then made a successful application to get that helpful evidence in. My case settled through negotiation very soon after that victory and some three weeks before the value of my case was due to be decided by the Court. 

Leigh Day was able to negotiate a settlement which I am very happy with - it is nearly double the defendant’s previous offer. Thanks to the high interim payments Leigh Day obtained for me I did not feel under pressure to under-settle my case or to settle it  too early before the expert evidence was finalised.

I have now recovered enough compensation to make me financially secure for life. I can afford to have a new home built to my specification including a home hydrotherapy pool. My settlement includes annual payments for my lifetime to cover expenses such as care so that I do not have to worry about funds running out if I live longer than predicted.

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