Slee Blackwell Solicitors LLP recently represented the victim of a serious coach accident.
Our client had been working in France at a ski resort. As she was returning home to the UK the brakes of the coach in which she was travelling failed without warning. To avoid the coach veering over a precipice the driver ran the coach into a wall.
Tragically the coach driver died in the incident, but his bravery surely saved the lives of many passengers on board.
Nevertheless the consequences of the collision were serious for those on the coach.
Our client sustained multiple soft tissue injuries in the coach accident. She also suffered severe psychological symptoms and was unable to return to work.
We were appointed to deal with the resulting personal injury claim after being highly recommended by family members. We agreed to undertake the case on a No Win, No Fee basis.
A detailed letter of claim was submitted to the company which operated the coach service. They said that although their investigations into the cause of the accident were ongoing they were “willing to deal with the Claimant’s claim on a without prejudice basis”.
Jasmine Butler, who is a trainee legal executive in our injury team, began gathering important evidence to ensure that our client would secure the best possible settlement and maximum compensation.
A psychiatrist confirmed that our client had a classic case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of experiencing a sudden and overwhelming threat to her life as a result of the crash. He added that the she was suffering reoccurring nightmares and exhibited evidence of hyper-vigilance, social avoidance and withdrawal, which affected her concentration and made her deeply unhappy. He was of the opinion that the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder was severe and explained her panic attacks and the onset of other neurotic symptoms, such as obsessive compulsion and depression. The psychiatrist recommended specialised Trauma-Focussed Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR) to treat her PTSD. He was of the opinion that twenty or thirty EMDR sessions combined with CBT might be required, concluding that the treatment would help our client to reintegrate socially and help her to return to work.
We were able to secure our client an interim payment from the Defendant’s insurers so that she could receive this vital treatment for her PTSD as soon as possible.
An extensive statement was prepared on behalf of our client dealing with the devastating impact of the accident upon her and explaining how this had affected her life. The statement also explained the effect of the coach accident on her ability to work and the extent of the loss of earnings she had suffered as a result. A supportive witness statement was also taken from our client’s former manager.
A thorough Schedule of our client’s financial losses and expenses (including the costs of the PTSD treatment) was prepared and submitted to the defendant’s insurers.
Although liability for the accident had been admitted, the insurers indicated that they would be looking to raise the issue of ‘contributory negligence’ as they did not believe that our client was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the coach accident. We strongly opposed this allegation, producing evidence to show that she would have sustained severe injuries whether or not she was wearing a seatbelt and the allegation was therefore meaningless. As a result of our objections the allegation of contributory negligence was not pursued.
This paved the way for settlement discussions to take place, resulting in the claim settling out of court for a compensation package that was just shy of £100,000.
If you have been the victim of a coach accident or have suffered PTSD then call our FREE injury helpline on 0333 888 0404 or email us at [email protected]