The Claimant, now 57 years old, was employed in a prominent leadership role and a keen sportsman. He suffered a fall whilst out jogging directly as a result of roadwork debris which had not been properly cleared. The Claimant’s argued that the Defendants were fully liable for the accident which led to the Claimant suffering a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI).
It was the Claimant position that although he had taken significant steps in his recovery from the effects of the mild TBI, he went on to develop a serious psychological condition. This, in turn, lead to significant mental health difficulties which ultimately resulted in the cessation of his employment altogether.
This case highlights how individuals with significant mental health issues struggle after suffering a physical injury. In this instance the Claimant maintained full time employment for over 3½ years without there being any explicit record of him having any difficulties with his work. Expert evidence supported the position that he was maintaining employment but there was a negative impact on the rest of his life and he simply could not hold all of the things together.
This case is a real life example of how many people suffer mental health issues and are not forthcoming about them, either at work or to medical professionals – no doubt in part fearing the consequences that may arise.
The Defendants contended that this was only a minor injury and as there was no record of any causative link until many years later. In addition, they alleged contributory negligence for the accident itself which was readily disposed of by the Court.
The Court accepted the causation case and evidence of the Claimant’s including the formidable and persuasive expert opinion which dismantled the arguments advanced by the Defendants. The Claimant was awarded a life changing sum of money which will have a significant impact going forward and the Defendants are left facing not only the award of damages but substantial legal costs which include penalty provisions; in total the damages and costs will substantially exceed £1million whereas they contended the claim had a value of only £3,000!
The lessons to learn from this case are threefold. Firstly, how mental health issues are dealt with in all walks of life including the education and advice to encourage those who are suffering to be forthcoming. Secondly, if there had been a collaborative approach to litigation, there would have been a substantial saving of time and expense. Thirdly, and most importantly, the Claimant and his lay witnesses would not have had to endure the stressful process of a long trial – indeed, to do so when he was in such a grave situation.
Satinder Hunjan KC was instructed to represent the Claimant by Nicola Kitchener at Affinity Law.
The full judgment can be found here