Samantha’s story – brain injury as a result of a road collision

Coroner report reveals delays in ambulance response times
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In certain cases, we represent children and other family members in claims against a loved one’s insurance. This is often due to the profound impact that serious injuries, regardless of how they occur, can have on a child’s life and future development. A successful civil litigation claim can be crucial in securing the necessary rehabilitation support for the best possible recovery. In some instances, these injuries may lead to educational challenges for the child, affecting their learning, or result in long-term care needs that persist into adulthood.

We recently took on the case of Samantha who came to us through her litigation friend, her mum. When a child needs to take legal action or get legal advice that generally takes place through the support of a litigation friend, that is a trusted adult who is often a close family member, that can represent them in legal proceedings so they don’t have to deal with them directly themselves.

Samantha was 6 years old at the time of the accident. She was sitting at the back of her dad’s car when he lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a verge. Her dad didn’t have car insurance and was under the influence of drugs which impacted his ability to drive. The crash caused the car to be on the opposite side of the road and on the brow of a hill. A second vehicle then crashed into the car.

Samantha was not in a booster seat despite being very young and although had been wearing a seatbelt at the time of the initial crash she had removed this when the subsequent collision happened.

As the result of the crashes, she sustained a traumatic brain injury and needed to be fitted with a titanium plate. Unfortunately her serious injuries affected the parts of her brain controlling memory, emotions, cognitive and executive functioning.

After being discharged from the Children’s Hospital, her family noticed that her behaviour significantly changed. Dangers that she previously easily recognised seemed to not scare her anymore and she found it really difficult to stay focused on the things she was doing. She could not remember things she had learnt and felt constantly very tired.

Even though the hospital discharge team tried their best to put in place support for her at home, the support she could access was not enough to provide the level of rehabilitation support she needed to fully aid her recovery.

How did we help?

Even though Samantha’s case is ongoing, her personal injury solicitor, Tim Jones, managed to get some support in place very quickly for her. As her dad had been uninsured, we could not get his insurer to cover the cost of the treatment and support Samantha needed. For that reason, we made a claim against the Motor Insurance Bureau, which is an organisation that covers claims made against uninsured or unidentified drivers.

We appointed a case manager that put together a care and rehabilitation plan including inputs and therapies from speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, neuropsychology, physiotherapy and an educational psychologist. Even though Samantha already had an EHCP (Education Health and Care Plan) in place by the time we were appointed to represent her she was not due for a re-assessment by an educational psychologist for around another 6 months and our experts identified that her changing needs would be better met by an earlier assessment. That meant that her educational needs could be met better and having the inputs of her case manager, Samantha has been able to better engage with her phased return to school and adjusting to life following her injuries.

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