Kim Steward’s story.
In 2006, my 6-year-old son Miles was run over, and severely injured. A car knocked him down, and the driver drove on, dragging him along under the car. At last, he came out under the other end of the car, and she tried to drive off, but the neighbours stopped her.
Miles was taken to hospital, initially to Great St Ormonds Street; and then to the Royal London. He was in hospital for 3 months, and in all that time I slept alongside him.
Miles was severely brain damaged, losing all his memory and development since birth. He also suffered physical injuries. I was very naïve about road traffic accidents, solicitors and the law, so I just dealt with things as they arose. Eventually a Mental Health Psychologist encouraged me to make a claim, because Miles faced long term issues which will require lifetime care. Miles was discharged, and a series of appointments booked for the future.
I was referred to a solicitor, who came to see me at the hospital, took all the details, and wrote a confirmation letter three months later. After a year, the solicitor told me I would get no compensation, because the accident was Miles’ fault. I went to see her at the office, but she had no witness statements, and clearly had never chased anything up.
I knew the accident wasn’t Miles’ fault. I’d seen the damage on the car; he’d been halfway over the road when she hit him. So, I did the solicitor’s job, chasing statements, and this went on for 5 years.
I was chasing the solicitor monthly, then weekly, then I complained to her boss. Her manager finally called and admitted the solicitor had shelved the case!
I was then referred to Helen Clifford, who came to my home straight away, and asked me to tell her everything that had gone on for the last 5 years.
In all that time, Miles had had no rehabilitation for his brain damage, only the physical injuries. I’d done all his physical rehab and looked after all his needs up to that point. Within a week, Helen found me specialist help: Occupational Therapist, Speech and Language therapists, Orthopaedics, and a Psychologist to support Miles and me. A Case Manager was appointed, and Miles got a Buddy. They were all specialists in brain injuries, and for the first time in 5 years, Miles’ care was not all down to me alone.
From the age of 6 to 11, it was Miles and me; from 11 onwards we were engulfed in appointments. We became overloaded to be honest, and I had a bit of a meltdown in front of Helen. Helen is so empathetic, she totally got Miles, understood where he was coming from straightaway, and changed the schedules.
Helen had asked where all the receipts were: we’d had food and drinks in the hospital, travel, lunch, accommodation expenses. I’d never kept accounts of the extra costs we’d incurred, it didn’t occur to me. I still don’t save receipts, and Miles is 22 now.
I was struggling at one point: not replying to emails, and other issues. Helen chased me up and said: ‘Ask me for some money. You’ve never asked for anything’. That was a life saver; it lifted the stress off me and enabled me to look after my daughter, who also needed help at the time. This is how Helen supports me, Miles, and my two other children: she comes into the house and takes a holistic approach to the problems we face as a family. Helen’s there for me in all events, even dealing with employment law issues for me.
We get lots of expert reports, 20 pages long, full of jargon. Helen summarises them for us in clear simple terms, pulls out the key points, explains things.
Helen is very honest, there are no secrets between us. She’s very fair, she tells us what’s right, what’s wrong. She is always there for us, always replies straightaway even when I email her on Sundays. That’s why we’ve stayed with her when she’s changed firms, we’ll always stay with Helen.
Helen totally gets Miles. In lockdown, Miles never went out, lost his job, and became very depressed. He wanted a dog, but his case team said he wouldn’t be able to cope. But Helen told us ‘get the dog’. So Miles now has a cockapoo, he’s really protective of it, and has done really well.
The case is nearing its end finally, and to be honest we’ve had enough of it. It’s been a long haul, lots of appointments, because it’s taken a long time for Miles’ injuries to show themselves. But Helen told us not to accept the first offer we got 2 years ago, because she could see it wasn’t enough. She advised we still didn’t know fully what will happen to Miles. She was right. If we’d accepted that offer, it would not have helped, because Miles has had further issues since then.
It’s now accepted that the driver was 85% at fault for Miles’ accident. The case goes to court in December, and Helen will continue as Miles’ trustee, with me, because I rely on the support she gives. I’d recommend Helen to anyone.