New Year’s Day is usually a time for great optimism; an annual prompt to plan and opportunity to revel in what the next 12 months have in store.
For one front-line medical worker, however, the opening hours of 2019 delivered very little cause for cheer. The Bank Holiday began relatively unremarkably – with the ward sister leaving home by car to cover the shift of a colleague with a young family – but ended with her lying in a bed at the hospital she should have been working in.
The dramatic change in circumstance was caused by a driver who, under the influence of drugs, crossed into the nurse’s lane of traffic and hit her vehicle head on at 80mph.
Rather than caring for others, she found herself being treated for an array of serious injuries – including fractures to her collar bone, ribs and knee – and wheelchair bound for 12 weeks.
And while the lacerations and bruises faded during the nine months of home recovery that followed, the after-effects of the crash continued to have a profound impact on the then 31-year-old’s professional and personal life.
Enduring aches and pains led to an enforced change of role at work, ruled out her long-harboured aspirations to become a chief nurse and meant her planned IVF treatment had to be postponed.
“Before the accident I worked on a busy surgical ward, but I found that I could no longer meet all the physical demands of the job and had to switch to training newly-qualified nurses,” she said. “I still love being part of the NHS, but I miss the direct contact with patients I used to have and it makes me angry to think that my dreams were taken from me because someone else chose to drive while intoxicated.
“On the outside I am still always smiling but on the inside I’m in pain and I have had to adapt the way I lead my life. It affects me daily, from little things like having to keep regularly used ingredients in low cupboards so I don’t have to stretch for them to worrying about driving on certain roads.”
Three years on from finding herself helplessly trapped behind the wheel of her car, the victim’s brave face finally has a renewed brightness. The carer and her husband now have a baby son to care for and – thanks to a £100,000 settlement negotiated by the team at Accident Claims Lawyers UK – the couple were able to greet the arrival of 2022 content in the knowledge of a secure financial future.
“The pressure has been lifted off my family,” concluded the new mum and NHS nurse while commending the ‘bedside manner’ of the firm she appointed to manage her case. “We now have something to fall back on if I find that I am unable to work later in life and that is very reassuring.
“I am so grateful to Jon Shields [a member of Accident Claims Lawyers UK’s serious injury team] for his expertise and the support he gave to me, both in securing the settlement and making sure I had access to private physiotherapy and rehabilitation.
“He was very polite and patient with me and I have already recommended him to others.”