On 12th July 2011, our client Laura, a BBC journalist was returning from a long weekend trip to New Jersey. During her short time abroad, she suffered back pains which required admission to hospital and painkillers. On the return journey, British Airways upgraded her to Business Class as she was suffering from back pain.
On arrival at Heathrow Airport, the aircraft parked at a stand some distance away from the terminal and passport control. Passengers were asked to disembark from the aircraft via stairs to take a bus to the terminal. It was arranged with ground staff that Laura would be taken to the terminal by a wheelchair to avoid using the aircraft stairs. The hi-lift was placed next to the aircraft to allow the passengers to disembark.
Laura was approached by a porter who presented her with a choice of two wheelchairs. When she sat down into one of the wheelchairs, the porter began to pull her back. As he did so, he fell backwards off the edge of the aircraft, bringing Laura down with him. The wheelchair also fell out of the aircraft and landed on top of her. As Laura hit the ground she lost consciousness and recalls awaking with the wheelchair on top of her and seeing blood everywhere.
She was taken to Hillingdon Hospital where x-rays were performed. Laura had sustained severe thoracolumbar fractures; she was subsequently transferred to St Mary's Hospital on 13 July 2011, where she later underwent surgical correction and fixation. Laura was transferred to New Victoria Hospital where she received ongoing care and physiotherapy. On 29 July 2011 she was discharged from the hospital.
At this stage she was barely able to care for her baby daughter who was newly born in April of that year. Initially, her husband took some time off work to help care for their child; however to enable him to return to work a carer was employed to look after their daughter and assist with domestic tasks.
For the first 6 months after the accident Laura was experiencing extremely painful spasms at the site of the fracture. A year later in 2012, although she was improving physically she was still unable to carry heavy items or bend and stretch. This meant that she was still unable to care for her daughter in terms of lifting her from her cot, carrying her up and down the stairs, or taking her in and out of the car seat. Her social activities were still limited and she was still unable to return to work as a Broadcast Journalist with the BBC.
Although Laura has come a long way since the accident, unfortunately she has still not recovered fully. She still experiences pain and on-going difficulties and will also require a range of occupational therapy and further orthopaedic surgery in the future.
Laura instructed experienced Personal Injury solicitor, Paul McNeil to handle her case. Paul assisted her in obtaining a settlement in the sum of £215,000 just a few days before the trial fixed for July 2013. This sum will enable her to pay for the therapies she requires on a private basis.
After the settlement Laura said:
"Throughout two long and challenging years we were pleased to have Paul in our corner. He showed us great compassion and, when we needed to better understand the process or our options, we found it easy to contact him. At the same time he was extremely professional and to the point in offering his opinion and expertise. He didn’t promise us what he couldn't deliver, and for that we were very grateful".
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