Compensation for brain injury caused in a road traffic accident

19 May 2023

Compensation for brain injury caused in a road traffic accident

Our client sustained multiple injuries in a road traffic accident when he was a rear seat passenger in a vehicle being driven by the defendant, his friend.

The defendant’s car struck another vehicle whilst traveling on the motorway and was then struck by a third vehicle. 

Our client was unable to recall any of the accident circumstances, so eyewitness evidence and the police report had to be carefully considered in order to piece together the sequence of events. 


Our client’s injuries were identified immediately as being very serious. He sustained:

  • a traumatic brain injury
  • fractures to his neck
  • right and left collapsed lungs (multiple pneumothorax)

An MRI scan undertaken at hospital indicated an extensive diffuse axonal injury involving the brain stem. A diffuse axonal brain injury occurs when the connecting nerve fibres (axons) in the brain are torn, usually when the brain is shifted and/or rotated inside the skull.

Our client suffered multiple seizures whilst in hospital. He also underwent surgery to fix the fractures of his neck.

He remained in hospital for several months whilst recuperating from his injuries. During his inpatient stay at hospital, he received treatment and support including:

  • neurophysiotherapy
  • occupational therapy
  • neuropsychological assessment
  • speech and language therapy 

This treatment was identified as necessary to assist with his ongoing issues, including:

  • difficulties with concentration and memory
  • limited executive function 
  • slurred speech 
  • balance problems, including ascending and descending stairs
  • mood and behavioural problems with outbursts of aggressive behaviour towards members of the public
  • lack of insight and awareness into his behaviour

Liability and pre-existing issues to consider 

Although the insurers for the defendant driver did not dispute liability, they did reserve the right to raise the following at a later stage: 

  • a claim against the other driver
  • the issue as to whether our client was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident 
  • the Client’s pre-accident history of aggressive behaviour and whether that had in fact been made worse by the accident

As liability was not an issue, Shoosmiths was able to deal with the matter of rehabilitation and obtaining medical evidence as quickly as possible. 


Our serious injury team was able to secure funding from the defendant’s insurers to put into place a rehabilitation package that included the appointment of a case manager, therapists, and a team of support workers to help maximise our client’s recovery. 

A key issue in this case was our client’s capacity and his ability to return to his pre-accident home. 

In addition, while he was in hospital recovering from his injuries, our client’s partner had given birth to their child and, understandably, he was desperate to return home and to be them. This was a major part of the team’s consideration in helping him to return home and we worked closely with his local Community Brain Injury Service to ensure his rehabilitation and treatment remained suitable for his needs. 

Medical Evidence 

Given the seriousness of the accident, medical expert evidence was of utmost importance to deal with not only the injuries our client sustained in the accident, but also his ongoing symptoms, their long-term impact on his capacity to work, and his ability to provide for his family. 

Our personal injury lawyers identified that evidence was required from experts in the following disciplines: 

  • Consultant Neurologist 
  • Consultant Spinal Surgeon
  • Consultant Neuropsychologist 

Our expert evidence was that our client’s injuries meant that he would be unlikely to be able to return to work.


With medical evidence complete, we arranged a mediation with the defendant’s representatives. Mediation is a confidential negotiation which is held between the parties and a skilled, independent mediator, designed to help facilitate settlement without having to attend court. 

In this case, as the mediation took place whilst there were still restrictions in place due to the Covid pandemic, it was held exclusively online through video conferencing. 

The mediation meant that our serious injury team was able to address the key issues in the case with the defendants, namely the issues of care, case management and whether our client lacked capacity. It was also vital that we were able to address the impact of the injuries sustained in the accident on his future employability.

Ultimately, settlement was agreed for an amount which reflected the fact that our client will never be able to work, yet he still has a young family which he will need to provide for. The most significant element of the compensation recovered was to reflect the lifetime of professional care he would need including the following:

  • a professional deputy to manage his award
  • a case manager to manage ongoing rehabilitation and provide support 
  • support workers to work with him on a day-to-day basis 

Chris McKinney reflected on the case following the mediation

This was a particularly challenging case as due to the nature of his brain injury our client lacked insight into the impact that his injuries had upon him. He accepted that he had suffered physical injuries but not a brain injury and its consequences. It was very difficult to persuade him to accept support although all the experts acknowledged that he needed this. There was also the added complication of his pre-accident history of behavioural problems.



This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024

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