Accident victims' injuries can be subtle and not apparent to the casual observer but that does not make them any less devastating. In one case, a young man who sank into a life of apathy due to catastrophic head injuries sustained in a road collision received millions of pounds in compensation.
The man, who was in his thirties, was riding a scooter in a city centre when a motorist drove across his path. He suffered a fractured skull and very nearly died, spending two weeks in intensive care. The physical consequences of the accident were not serious but he has undergone a dramatic personality change.
Suffering from dysexecutive syndrome – a distressing feature of frontal lobe damage – he lacks motivation to the point where it is very hard to get him out of bed in the morning. He tends to act, speak and behave inappropriately and, when he ventures out into the community, he engages in cannabis abuse.
His helmet was not properly strapped in place when the collision occurred but, after proceedings were launched on his behalf, the motorist's insurers agreed to pay 85 per cent of the full value of his claim. On that basis, a settlement was agreed whereby he would receive a lump sum of £2,800,000, together with index-linked payments of £85,662 a year towards the costs of his care.
In approving the settlement, the High Court noted that he has difficulty developing strategies to cope with life and is prey to fixed behaviours and obsessional thinking. He has painful insight into his problems with word-finding, verbal fluency and remembering names. However, he has the support of a close family and his mother in particular had given him outstanding care.