Handy-v-Clark Opinion £30_000

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Handy-v-Clark Opinion £30_000 Powered By Docstoc
					IN THE ****** COUNTY COURT CLAIM NO. ****** BETWEEN:MISS SAMANTHA HANDY Claimant -andMRS L CLARK Defendant _____________________________ ADVICE ON QUANTUM _____________________________



I am asked to advise Samantha Handy (hereafter known as the Claimant) as to the quantum of damages that he can expect to be awarded by the Court, in respect of personal injuries she sustained as the result of a road traffic accident in her boyfriend’s car, on 24th October 2003.


The accident occurred when the Claimant was a front seat passenger in a car which collided with a van and rolled over several times. She was wearing a seatbelt. Subsequently, she was then taken by ambulance to hospital for treatment. I am obliged to those instructing me for enclosing the medical report of Mr. Wojcik dated 17th May 2004 which sets out the injuries suffered by the Claimant, the more recent follow up report of 14th June 2005 that details further treatment and prognosis, and the psychiatric report of Dr. Jackson dated 27th October 2005.

The Injuries


Essentially, the Claimant suffered a variety of injuries as a result of his accident; primarily a fracture of the pubic rami and the alar of the sacrum (pelvic injuries), a fracture of the right clavicle and later development of chronic whiplash injury type symptoms in her neck. She also suffered from a level of minor psychiatric damage as a result of the incident.


Following the accident the Claimant was taken to hospital, where she remained for eleven days as an inpatient for treatment of her injuries. She was subsequently discharged with crutches and a sling, was fully rested for two months, and experienced a significant restriction of mobility for four months, and then her overall symptoms gradually began to improve. She was off college and work for fifteen weeks, during which time her immediate family were effectively caring for her daily needs. Eighteen months later she had made a good recovery from her pelvic and shoulder injuries, but serious residual discomfort remains in relation to her whiplash in the side of her neck, which is described as chronic.


Psychologically, the Claimant was undoubtedly traumatised by the incident and suffered serious sleep disturbances, flash backs and mood swings for at least three or four months after the accident. These were severe enough to be categorised as an Adjustment Disorder with depression and anxiety (a recognised psychiatric illness) by Dr. Jackson in his report, although his prognosis is optimistic and he anticipates a good psychological recovery by the Claimant over time.



The fractures of the pubic rami and sacral alar have now almost completely resolved with no long term problems save a changed pattern of walking attributable to the use of crutches during the Claimant’s rehabilitation. Despite there being some potential for future vulnerability, Mr. Wojcik is confident that there will be no future degenerative changes in that area. The left shoulder has also made a good recovery, save for a slight thickening in its shape over the fracture site, which causes minor embarrassment. Finally, the Claimant’s whiplash injury still causes her the majority of her discomfort and the prognosis remains unfortunately open-ended in relation to her neck pain, despite her receiving over fifteen sessions over physiotherapy to address the problem.



Turning first to the Judicial Studies Board Guidelines, it would seem that we can break the Claimant’s injuries down into four areas. Firstly, the straightforward pelvic fracture of the pubic rami and sacral alar. Despite its initial severity, some obvious serious initial discomfort, the need for hospitalisation and a significant loss of amenity, it would appear to fall under the 6(D)(b) Moderate bracket, with a complete recovery and no future disability. Thus it alone would be likely to attract an award in the region of £14,750 to £21,500. Secondly, the Claimant’s fractured left clavicle, also requiring a fairly lengthy recovery period and necessitating the need to avoid strenuous activity might attract an award between £2,750 and £6,500. This would also take into account the optimistic prognosis of this injury, notwithstanding the fairly noticeable cosmetic deformity of the collarbone.


The third element of any consideration of the Judicial Studies Board Guidelines with respect to quantum should focus on the residual pain attributable to the whiplash type injury, which still presents as chronic in nature eighteen months after the accident. This factor should place the symptoms in the 6(A)(b)(ii) Moderate category, for exceptional whiplash cases were recovery is especially protracted, and as such will attract an award in the region of £4,250 to £7,750.


Finally, the Claimant appears to have suffered from a minor form of psychiatric injury for at least three or four months after the accident. Diagnosed specifically with the aid of the psychiatrist’s report, there were certainly fairly obvious symptoms (sleep disturbance, flash backs, mood swings) which may by themselves attract an award of £800 to £3,250 over the time period concerned. Factoring in some overlap of the Claimant’s injuries we should arrive at a global guideline figure for pain, suffering and loss of amenity in the region of £22,550 - £39,000 which should be quantified more effectively by appropriate case law on accidents of this type.


Unfortunately, upon consideration of the medical evidence thus presented, there appear to be a series of ambiguities that need to be addressed before a conclusive quantification of the Claimant’s injuries can be made. Before considering relevant case law it would be therefore pertinent to return to Mr. Wojcik with the following enquiries relating to the conclusion of his medical report:


The changed pattern in her walking: Do we need to consult an ergonomist in order to determine exactly how this affects the Claimant in her daily life? Is it considered to be

a disability she will have to learn to live with directly attributable to the index accident?  The potential for vulnerability: Which areas are vulnerable? Can we get a percentage on this? If more than say, 5%, it will have a significant impact on quantum.  His statement: “The residual symptoms should be regarded as chronic”: Exactly what symptoms is he referring to? As the terms “residual” and “chronic” appear mutually exclusive, can he please clarify this point and confirm that it relates to the whiplash injury only.  Finally, his conclusions as to the Claimant’s future on the open labour market need some clarification; on the one hand he asserts that the Claimant will be able to apply for any jobs or duties, but then warns of: “…symptoms related to a musculoligamentous abnormality” that could present following strenuous activities.

These ambiguities in the summary of the medical evidence need to be addressed before a definitive assessment of quantum can be reached, and as such I shall be happy to complete this opinion after receiving some clarification of the medical evidence.


Destiny Legal Services PO Box 41 Manchester M60 1DZ

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