Personal Injury Law (Accidents/Slip & Fall)/Personal Injury Due to Negligence at a public event
I was wondering if you could help me decide whether my current personal injury lawyer is doing their job properly.
I am a woman in my early forties.
In June 2011 I was a VIP guest at a large music festival and at about 12 midnight I was with some friends watching a band when it started to rain heavily. We ran for shelter in a nearby "VIP" enclosure a small tented bar area with a singer on stage. I sat down with my group of friends in a benched seating recess watching another band play on the stage in front of me.
As I was sitting there I was suddenly aware of a very sudden heavy blow to my head. I felt agonizing pain and was knocked unconscious, and apparently fell over backwards off the bench and to the ground (there were four eye witnesses). When I came to after what must have been a minimum of three to five minutes later I could taste blood and then realized I was bleeding heavily from a laceration to the middle-front of my forehead. I also had blood on the top of my head and felt very bruised on my skull.
I was being revived by my friends and a security guard. I had been hit on the head by a falling, large stage light weighing about 20 pounds. The rigging had failed, it was not safety chained and had simply come loose to fall right on top of me.
I suffered loss of consciousness on and off four about half an hour while a site vehicle was called to take me for onsite medical treatment.
What followed was a disgraceful display of incompetence on the part of the medical teams onsite but that's another story. The unfortunate thing was that I was not transferred to an ER because of the chaos of the hour of night/morning and the environment of the accident and my lack of personal resources (ie i wasnt carrying ID money or a phone they had been left in my tent a good forty minutes walk away).
I am presently engaged in a lawsuit against the lighting company and their insurers. The lighting company have accepted liability for the incident in writing (this May) but have not been taking any action to compensate me and are stalling. I have only been able to have one CT scan so far and have now booked an MRI for the end of the month. The CT in August 2011 came back 'normal' but I still suffer bad symptoms, and I understand CTs do not necessarily show tissue nerve and microscopic damage that could be affecting me.
In the meantime I have been told by one neurologist that I have classic Post Concussion Syndrome symptoms but I don't know whether this constitutes a diagnosis that will stand up in legal terms. I am awaiting an assessment from a neuropsychologist.
I was unable to walk straight or do anything much for two months after the accident. I had to live with my parents to get by. I have not been able to return to my usual daily exercise program of running and gym since the accident and have gained a lot of weight which depresses me greatly.
I get frequent dizzy spells (particularly when I try to run or workout), ringing in the ears and my concentration is very very poor. My short term memory is almost non existent I can hardly retain anything and forget the question I am being asked in mid sentence all the time, or what I was trying to say. I leave pans on my stove all the time and forget about them. I leave baths running and forget what I am doing as I am doing it!! I cannot multitask anymore, working on computers is very hard as is talking on the phone. I find social situations difficult as I cannot concentrate on lots of things at once and can only talk to one person at a time or I get confused and just have to walk away and make an excuse in order to collect my thoughts. Before the accident I was very high functioning and I now feel I am impaired. I muddle up sentence order and use the wrong word which I never did before. I stutter.
My physical confidence is low as I am afraid to cycle or take exercise or even leave the house in case something happens. I am very anxious all the time. I have a scar on my face and although everyone says is not that bad I know I look different and older, as I had no blemish or lines there before but now I am self conscious as it gives my previously smooth forehead a battered look. Prior to the accident I got asked if I was in my twenties now people accept my chronological age and I no longer receive complements about looking young. That makes me angry as I was given naturally youthful looks and now I have lost that natural advantage and theres not much a plastic surgeon can do with a scar like mine as its slight so its not worth being invasive and possibly making it worse.
I have recently had a physiotherapist say I have the symptoms of a whiplash injury to my neck because of the heavy object striking me and causing me to jerk forward then fall backwards. My neck is in constant pain and my shoulders and upper back are sore all the time and stiff as a board. After an x-ray in July 2011 it seems I did not get a fracture but my muscles are very painful and tight and I think there must have been other damage from the whiplash.
I keep corresponding with my current lawyer and asking them when they are going to put together a schedule or list of the things I am suffering. They keep telling me its all under control but then last week I said I wanted to send them a copy of the whiplash diagnosis and they said they didnt know I even had whiplash although they had sight of my medical records stating I had gone through a neck x-ray in the days after the accident.
Surely they should get a complete list of my symptoms on the level of PCS, Post traumatic stress, psychological damage, pain and suffering, scar, whiplash and neck and back pain etc...what are they up to?
Where would you be at by now if you had my case 17 months following the accident?
Incidentally I am homeless as I could not afford to carry on renting my property where I lived. The accident has had a huge impact and I havent received a penny as yet from the insurance company concerned.
Any advice would be much appreciated.
I am sorry to hear about the incident that injured you at the music festival and the problems it has caused you.
You have questions about our case and how it has been handled. I never want to come between a current attorney-client relationship and always suggest that it is best to discuss our questions and concerns with you current attorney.
I can share our general approach to cases and that may shine some light on your situation. When a client retains our services, we send a letter to the defendant notifying them that our client has a claim against them and that we represent the client for that claim. This letter puts the defendant on notice and usually opens a line of communication. We also immediately began an investigation into both the incident and the injuries and damages suffered by our client. The investigation into the incident will provide information on the liability of the defendant. When we conclude that part of our investigation, we prepare an Investigation Report that we review with our client and use to develop our overall assessment of the case.
As part of our investigation, we monitor the health and treatment of our client and work to understand the impact of the injuries on our client's life. When the client's medical condition has stabilized, we gather all the medical records and our nurse reviews and analyzes those records. We then prepare a Case Assessment that assesses liability and damages and determines the value of the case as well as the best strategy to pursue. We then will make an effort to settle the case and if we cannot settle, then we file a lawsuit to pursue the matter through the courts. We follow a two prong strategy, aggressively pressing the case in the court system while looking for opportunities to achieve a settlement.
From what you said, you are still undergoing medical treatment and your condition is not fully known or stabilized. Therefore, it might be premature to settle the case as you would not know the full value of your case. Even if your attorney had prepared a settlement proposal for the defense, it may not settle quickly. The other side cannot be forced to offer an acceptable settlement and that is why cases will go to trial: to resolve disputes that the parties cannot settle on their own.
Again, I would urge you to speak to your attorney about the status of your case and his or her strategies for pursuing the best outcome for you.
I hope this information helps.