A young nurse whose birthday trip to London ended in horror after she was crushed by a car when heading to Covent Garden has spoken of her relief after being granted vital funds to help her recover from the life changing injuries she suffered.
Hilde Kongstein was visiting London with a friend to celebrate her birthday in March 2010 when a driver fell ill at the wheel and lost control of his car which mounted the pavement just outside Holborn Tube Station and crushed her against metal railings. Even once he had struck her, he continued to press his foot on the accelerator pedal.
The 29-year-old was rushed to the Royal London Hospital suffering from fractures and lacerations to both legs and her skin on her right lower thigh stripped away exposing the bone. She also suffered skin loss on her left shin and damage to the main nerve in her left leg.
After the collision, Hilde instructed specialist serious injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to represent her and although the driver’s insurers denied liability, the law firm secured a substantial six-figure settlement to cover her loss of earnings and to fund a rehabilitation care package.
Asha Vekaria represented Hilde and said: "Hilde has suffered devastating injuries as a result of the collision and I am pleased and relieved that we have been able to secure a fair settlement to help her gain access to further treatment to support her recovery and rehabilitation.
“She had a bright future ahead of her as a nurse but sadly is unable to continue in this line of work due to the extent of her injuries. She is determined to retrain, putting her skills and knowledge from the public health sector to good use in a new role which she has already started re-training for.”
Following a two week stay at Royal London Hospital, she underwent surgery on her legs and also developed an embolism in her right lung and was told she would need further skin grafts on her legs once she returned to her home in Norway.
On 21 March 2010, she was transferred by helicopter to Akershus University Hospital in Norway where Hilde underwent further surgery on her legs and was given intense physiotherapy during her six-week stay, but her treatment has been ongoing for several years since returning home.
The driver of the car died after the collision and his legal team alleged that the collision was caused by an ‘act of God’ after he had became ill at the wheel of the car, losing control and colliding with Hilde. But Irwin Mitchell were determined to secure justice for Hilde, as she still suffers constant pain and struggled with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Hilde said: "It is incredibly hard to come to terms with the fact that my life will never be the same again. As well as being very passionate about my job which I have been forced to give up, I can no longer enjoy any of the hobbies I loved such as hiking and swimming.
"I was very happy before the collision and now it feels like my life has split into two; the life before the collision and now the life after.
"As I was conscious when the collision happened, I struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder. I remember being at the scene and realising I was unable to escape as the car continued to press into my legs; I was unable to stand up and my body was just hanging down towards the car. I was terrified and panicking and it felt like I was stuck there for a lifetime.
"After returning to Norway and having further treatment, I have not been able to return to full time work due to my injuries as I am unable to cope with the physical demands of my previous job. I decided to return to college and am currently studying for my Masters in Public Health at the University of Agder.
"I found it extremely difficult to come to terms with the fact I am unable to return to nursing and have now lost the opportunity to work in different fields in the hospital ward, as well as becoming an intensive care nurse.
"I worry about what my future holds and if I will ever be able to get my life back on track, but the settlement means I at least now have access to vital treatment to help with my ongoing recovery. I hope that with specialist help, I can begin to rebuild my life and make a fresh start without the crash hanging over me.
"I would like to thank my legal team at Irwin Mitchell, especially Asha Vekaria who has helped me through the case. I will be forever grateful for the hope and support they have given me and that it was a successful outcome."
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