The woman, XP, was involved in the accident in May 2016. Both her partner and their 18-month-year-old son were not physically injured but XP was very badly injured indeed.
Originally taken to St George's hospital, Tooting, XP's condition was so severe, at one point life support was withdrawn. She, however, continued to survive by self-ventilating and care was resumed.
Once instructed, Jill Greenfield sought interim payments from the insurer of the driver to move XP, who was then in prolonged disorder of consciousness, to the specialist Wellington Hospital. The Defence disagreed with this approach and believe that such therapy would not help. The team at the Wellington worked intuitively with XP, spotting signs of understanding and in particular noting her emotional response to music. Slowly and over many months better methods of communication were established and the team worked closely with the family to endeavour to communicate with XP.
Since then, she has progressed to the point of being able to sit up and shower aided, can make herself understood to care staff and help them to dress her. She now lives in her own flat with a full care regime and therapists that work with her and, importantly, she is able to spend time with her son.
Final settlement of £13m was agreed at the end of 2019 to continue to support XP for life. The award is a combination of a lump sum and annual payments and directly reflects the very significant care and support needed to maintain a level of dignity and quality in XP's life.
Perhaps most importantly, as well as providing financial security to support XP, this result offers the time and space for XP to develop communication skills as her son grows up, an experience they can share, something that is vital to wellbeing of both.
'XP is the best example of why we do what we do,' Jill said. 'Generally there is a limited protocol for looking after patients with serious brain injury. If no substantial improvement is obvious within a given timeframe, that patient may then be placed in a care home with little rehabilitation. Here the defence argued against moving XP to the the specialist neuro rehabilitation unit at the Wellington, but when their expert turned up to assess her, XP grabbed a pen to try to write on paper, after which even the Defence agreed that we were taking the right approach. There were evident gains being made.
'Accessing funds to move these clients into the Wellington is literally the difference between helping them achieve a level of quality of life or them potentially being left in prolonged disorder of consciousness.
Recent research suggests that a significant proportion of people in such a position may have lost the ability to communicate outwardly but are aware of what is going on and can receive information. Fieldfisher hosted an event on this topic in conjunction with the Wellington Hospital and enabled the sharing of information from experts from around the world.
'Work is ongoing with XP, but carers are looking to get her sitting on the edge of her bed so she can dress herself and they continue to help her communicate better with them and her family. This is a long and difficult process but the litigation at least gave XP the chance and her family, who are dedicated to her, know that she is in very safe and secure hands.'
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