Nick Adams' story.
In the early hours of December 16th 2017, my 22 year old daughter Ellie accepted a lift home from a colleague following the work Christmas party after the taxi she had booked failed to arrive. Shortly after, the vehicle she was travelling in was involved in a fatal RTC when it collided with an articulated lorry and Ellie who was in the back seat sustained massive facial injuries, lost her left eye, and suffered severe TBI (traumatic brain injury). The front seat passenger died at the scene.
When our doorbell rang at 06:00 AM on that cold December morning a young Policeman informed us that Ellie had been severely injured but was unaware of the circumstances. He escorted us in convoy the 40 miles to the hospital A&E and unknowingly we all drove directly past the accident scene during the journey.
The carnage that greeted us in A&E was horrific and Ellie was unrecognisable as a person. The Doctor informed us that Ellie might live 24/48 hours and if she did survive her quality of life would be negligeable. Later that day Ellie was transferred to the ICU.
As a family we needed to be by Ellie’s side 24/7 but the hospital had no facilities for us to stay, so we took it upon ourselves to commandeer a small dark waiting room that became our home day and night. We felt totally alone and isolated and the shock of the accident and injuries to our daughter were indescribable.
A specialist NHS head injury nurse visited us who provided a list of Solicitors who she suggested may be able to help us. Although we did meet with one local Solicitor we had reservations so alternatively, a friend introduced us to Helen Clifford. She came directly to the ICU the following day to talk to us, and we quickly made a connection. She provided logical and compassionate advice and we genuinely felt she understood our concerns and worries and was firmly on our side. We agreed for Helen to act on our behalf, and she immediately took control of the situation taking the pressure off us and giving us the time we needed to spend with our daughter. Helen negotiated with the driver’s insurance company and secured initial interim payments that enabled us to secure accommodation at a local B&B and fund the cost of travel and basic living expenses.
Ellie remained in ICU and underwent major surgery and facial reconstruction but amazingly awoke from her coma on 15th January 2018. She responded to us and spoke to us coherently. As well all our family and friends, even the Doctors and nursing staff thought it was incredible. At that stage we became hopeful that a full recovery might be possible but unfortunately, we had not considered the severity of the brain injury and the implications this would have for Ellie.
On 23rd January 2018 Ellie was discharged from ICU to a medical ward where life became unbearable. Ellie’s injuries were all above her neck so after regaining her strength she was extremely mobile and paced up and down the ward corridors as she was unable to settle or concentrate due to the brain injury. She also had sleep and eating disorders that made things even more difficult. By this stage, my wife and I had moved full time to the B&B and were able to stay with Ellie from early morning until late each night. Helen continued to work with us towards Ellie’s eventual discharge and her prognosis for rehabilitation and eventual home care.
After 101 days in hospital, Ellie was transferred to a rehabilitation centre in London on 27th March 2018 where she remained until she was discharged home on 15th June 2018.
During Ellie’s time on the medical ward and during the subsequent rehabilitation period, Helen took care of issues that we never even thought about. She knew how liability worked and assembled a specialist team of care professionals under a brilliant case manager to establish and execute Ellie’s care plan and document everything for use in the pending litigation. Helen dealt directly with the insurers and was always on hand to advise us of a positive way forward through the difficult and emotional times we experienced. Helen was available when we needed her and would have no hesitation in visiting us at short notice whenever a situation arose. Having face to face contact was a great relief and I do not really know how we could have managed on our own without her intervention.
When Ellie returned home, she was organised by the care workers into a daily routine, a complete range of therapies were scheduled along with regular daytime recreational activities. Specialist doctors were introduced and an independent Deputy appointed to manage Ellie’s finances. Helen and the care team conducted regular Multidisciplinary Team Meetings that included us at all levels and kept us fully informed of Ellie’s progress. Again, every detail was documented and an ongoing care plan was produced. We were also helped with many other issues that we had not considered for Ellie such as claiming benefits, Motability, disabled badge applications and student loans. Getting this team in place quickly made all the difference to us.
Ellie has been left with numerous disabilities and is a completely different person due to the severity of her brain injury and, it is unlikely that Ellie will be able to work or drive again or lead a normal adult life as she requires constant supervision and care. It is heart-breaking to see a daughter who was so socially active, self-motivated, independent and intelligent become so vulnerable and such a shadow of her former self. Ellie faces an uncertain future which is why it is so important that Helen continues to work long term on our behalf to obtain a legal settlement that will undoubtedly offer Ellie the protection that she so desperately needs and deserves.
The no win no fee option takes the financial pressure off our family and the expenses Helen negotiated in those early days and that have continued throughout the process have been a great help. Helen and the care team’s knowledge and experience has without doubt taken away a great deal of our daily stress and anxiety.
No two brain injuries are the same, no one really knows what to expect. Once Helen was on board, she was approachable and understanding of our needs and always tried to get the absolute best for us. Ellie’s life was destroyed on 16th December 2017, equally, so was ours and our family but it is a joy still to have Ellie here with us!