Seeking legal help: a family’s experience

After their son’s brain injury the last thing on parents Angelina and Dan’s minds was legal action. Here they share the family’s story and explain why they sought help.

Hakeem park
Our son was walking home from his girlfriend’s house one evening when he was hit by a speeding car as he was crossing a road. He went straight to A&E. The next three months were spent in hospital in the intensive care unit where he went through several operations and procedures and nearly lost his life several times.
Hakeem in chair
We were told by the neurosurgeons that it was pointless in saving his life as he would never have a quality of life and would always be in a state of vegetation. One brave paediatric neurosurgeon took a chance on our brave warrior and did save his life and now, two years later, he has proven every inch of medical science wrong. He can breathe independently, he can eat independently, he can speak and can walk again with aid. 

Starting to think about legal advice

Hakeem wearing helmet
The last thing on our mind when this happened to our son was ‘can he claim some money for the trauma he has been through?’ The hospital where he was taken had a legal advice clinic and after the first few weeks we decided to make an appointment to speak with a legal professional and looking back it has probably been the best decision we have made.  The team at the legal firm we used have been by our side and fighting our corner from the off. They gave us as much support as possible pointing us in the right directions along the way. 

From hospital to rehab

When our son was ready to leave the hospital we found the best rehabilitation centre ever, The Children’s Trust in Tadworth. Unfortunately it was 200 miles away and we have three other children so we had lots of decisions to make.
Hakeem Christmas
Fortunately we were able to juggle things around so that we could be there for our son and learn everything we could about his care and needs at Tadworth, but also be there for our other children as much as they needed too. At this point we were really struggling financially as we had our family in Sheffield to support, at least 500 miles a week to cover and had to support ourselves. We had to reach out to family and friends to help with expenses and our children’s school raised money to help us in the hardship we were going through. 

Securing payments

Our solicitors did everything they could at this point to secure some interim payments to help us financially and as soon as they did we haven’t had to struggle to that degree since. 
Hakeem climbing
The interim payments have helped us secure a family wheelchair-accessible vehicle, so we can all get out together and a new accessible home for us all to live together – much more comfortable. The interim payments have also helped fund our son’s rehabilitation, any equipment he has needed along the way and any other expenses that we wouldn’t normally have. 

The emotional impact

There is so much going off in a situation like this that it feels like your head is going to explode with so much information that you need to take in, so many appointments you need to attend and so many emotions you are going through.
Hakeem in kitchen
Fortunately some of that burden was taken off our shoulders with the introduction of a case manager who is then responsible to basically be your voice when you don’t have the strength. Our case manager has helped take care of all sorts of tasks along the way. She has helped us out with any support we have needed as a family, she has been our representative at meetings we have been unable to attend, she is currently planning our son’s transition from a rehabilitation setting to a home setting and much more – as well as being there to listen to us having a rant about something or a voice of support when you’re feeling down. 

Advice for other families

The most important piece of advice I could give is to never stop fighting for your loved one and, even when you don’t have the strength to fight, have a good team behind you to keep fighting on your behalf. We have never stopped pushing, stomping or fighting for our son and neither has our law firm and between us we have secured the best possible outcomes along the way to give him the best chances. Our son, the warrior, has smashed every obstacle and barrier in his path and proven every bit of medical science wrong.
Hakeem at the sea
Another really important point is to look after yourself. We run ourselves into the ground and found we burnt out quite often when it came to health and have now learnt that we need to look after ourselves and also take some time for R&R.  Don’t be afraid to speak up if you don’t feel something is right. There have been a few occasions where we’ve felt things aren’t quite right with care/medication, for example, and we always made our feelings very clear and asked lots of questions about medications and refused ones we didn’t like the sound of. We worked with the medical teams to find the right medications that everyone was happy with.  We personally got involved in all care/medication and rehabilitation with our son and feel it has helped both him and ourselves.  Our son’s brain scan showed that he shouldn’t even be alive and look where he is now! Never give up hope, never lose faith and never shut up!

Angelina and Dan sought help from law firm Irwin Mitchell for their son’s legal case. For more information read our Parents’ guide to legal support: serious injury and road traffic accidents.

Hakeem sports car
Hakeem and his parents
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