One brain injured client’s story.
My husband and I set up a restaurant and Mr X was the Head Chef. He is a close family friend, so close that people thought he was my husband’s brother.
In 2014 Mr X was involved in a serious car accident on a day out. He should not have survived the crash: he had a broken back, and severe head injuries, and had to have several brain operations.
Mr X has no family in the UK, so I liaised with his family and agreed to act as his Next of Kin, and we stepped in to support him. This meant I was trying to run the business, bring up my daughter, and care for Mr X.
I had no experience of dealing with the aftermath of such serious injuries, and with solicitors and other specialists, didn’t really know what would be involved. I can tell you why Helen Clifford is so good, because I had such a terrible experience with the first firm I was referred to.
When Mr X came out of his coma, he was moved to a hospital nearer to our home. He would not respond unless I or my husband were there. He wouldn’t do his physio, for example unless we were there. He had lost his short term memory, eventually he regained his speech, but he couldn’t work anymore.
In the hospital he reacted positively to the support he got there, but he had to be moved into a care home, which he hated. The staff there didn’t care for him, they exploited and abused him, and he didn’t get the therapy he needed. He came to stay with us for respite, and I started looking for a solicitor to try to get him the support he needed privately. In the end, we took him in, and his friends in the local community helped us to support him. We devised our own forms of therapy, taught him how to walk again, and he came to our restaurant to be amongst his colleagues and his friends, the customers. But although he was improving, he had suffered personality change, short term memory loss, constant pain, and severe anxiety.
I was referred to a local firm to act for Mr X, but they were too inexperienced in serious injury cases. The driver’s insurers would not pay out: it took 2 years to obtain any financial assistance. They did everything on the cheap, appointed the cheapest case manager, who recommended the cheapest care home, far way in Surrey, and set up outpatient therapy at the Cromwell Hospital. We dealt with five separate solicitors at the firm, all inexperienced, whose main aim seemed to be to maximise the claim. Not to get the best for Mr X.
Neither the Deputy appointed by the solicitor, the lawyers, or the carers seemed to care about Mr X, they didn’t listen to him, or respect his wishes. I was constantly raising concerns and issues about the case, but the lawyers threatened us, stopped us seeing him. We were vital to his recovery, but were being disregarded by the solicitors. I was struggling and came close to a breakdown myself.
Our accountant saw what was going on, and put us in touch with Helen Clifford. Helen came to the restaurant to meet Mr X, she sat and talked to him, and she listened. We kept out of it, but we could see Helen actually cared about him. She told him, ‘I’m going to look after you from now on’.
Helen’s approach was: what does he need, what does he want, what will make him happy, and what will make his life better? To Helen, the money is secondary. We’ve seen how strong she is on his behalf, she’s so tough on his behalf, she takes no prisoners. She’s powerful and strong, but at the same time, she’s so caring and empathetic, and understanding of her clients.
Helen identified Mr X’s needs and went after those, to make the best life she could for him.
When Helen looked into it, she found out we were two weeks away from running out of money for his care. She confronted the Deputy, took over the case, and before the money ran out, got the insurers to give more money. She appointed a new care team, and things started to take a turn for the better.
Helen understands how an accident affects everyone around the victim, too. She gave so much support to me and my husband as well as Mr X. I can call her at any time, to ask for help. I think the world of Helen, and Mr X loves her. It’s because throughout the process Helen has sat with him, looking for how she can make his life better, and supported him.
Mr X wants the things he had before: a home of his own, to get married, have a family. He has feelings. Helen understands those wishes, feelings, and dreams, and for her, they come first.
The case has settled now, but Helen is still there for us. Her professionalism has always been amazing; she’s never too busy, always got time for Mr X. Helen’s still there to fight his corner, as if he were her brother.
He received a substantial award to cover his needs for the rest of his life. But he’d give back all the compensation he received, if it meant he could get his life back. Money can’t compensate you for a ruined life. He just wants a normal life. All we wanted was a safe happy, stable future for him.
From the bottom of my heart, I don’t think I’d still be here, if not for Helen. Our marriage struggled, Mr X was depressed, he might not be here either. The people who should have supported us were in it for themselves. Helen took away the pain, stress, the pressure; and we could focus on Mr X; and he could focus on his treatment and getting better. It’s as though an angel came to rescue us.