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Lionel Stride (instructed by Sean Darney of Scooters & Bikes Legal), represented a young diabetic claimant who suffered multiple injuries following a motorcycle accident, including: –
The Claimant’s recovery was complicated by infection to the injured sites as a result of his diabetes (leaving him initially at an acute risk of amputation) and he had not returned to work, or been able to pursue his desired career as an HGV driver, since the accident.
Four years post-injury, the final prognosis was much more positive but he would still require knee replacement surgery, with at least two revisions before the age of 65. His case was pleaded on the basis that he is now ‘disabled’, with significantly reduced work capacity and need for single-level accommodation. However, the claim was complicated by a pre-accident history of poorly controlled diabetes that would substantially curtail his life expectancy. It was also the Defendant’s evidence that, due to diabetes-related neuropathy, his eyesight would have diminished to disabling levels in any event within a further 10 years. The Claimant’s endocrinological and ocular experts agreed that there would be a substantial reduction in life expectancy but the effect on work capacity was strongly disputed on the basis that the Defendant’s experts had failed to take into account the effect of treatment; the accelerative effect of the accident on his diabetes control; and medical improvements that would facilitate far better diabetic control in future.
Settlement was ultimately achieved at a Joint Settlement Meeting (JSM) against leading counsel on 29 March 2023. The settlement figure was commensurate with the Claimant’s contention that he is now disabled; that he would absent injury have remained in manual employment for most of his working life; and that he now requires single-level accommodation (compounded by any deterioration in vision), but with a compromise that accepted his life expectancy had been significantly reduced, and that he would have stopped work by age 60 in any event.
The case demonstrates the benefit of waiting to engage in ADR until the clinical picture is complete and the prognosis is clear in cases of serious injury. By the time of the JSM, the Claimant’s infection had resolved such that an acute risk of amputation had receded. This enabled him to choose whether to accept a higher lump sum award at this stage or to seek provisional damages, as well as for both parties to obtain evidence on the long-term implications of his diabetic condition.