Sports Coach Who Suffered Brain Injury In Hit-And-Run Recovers To Return To Teaching - And Propose To His Girlfriend

Tom Kerr Has Made A Remarkable Recovery Following Accident In Which He Almost Died


Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

Tom Kerr felt he had the whole world at his feet when he was struck by a car and left for dead.

The 27-year-old had graduated from university with a degree in sports coaching; he was living with Louise, the love of his life, and on the cusp of a dream career coaching primary school children in sport when he met up with his university friends in January 2013 to catch up on where life was taking them.

But as Tom crossed the A12 at Romford on his way home, he was struck by a car and left motionless on the westbound carriageway. Tom was so badly injured, doctors believed that even if he survived, he would face years of rehabilitation and therapy before he would speak, walk or live independently.

But three years on from the hit-and-run which almost ended his life, Tom has surpassed the expectations of brain injury specialists to return to sports coaching, buy his first home and get engaged to Louise, who remained steadfast through his recovery.

The couple are now supporting Action for Brain Injury Week alongside Tom’s specialist brain injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell who have helped him to secure interim payments which funded a case manager and therapists to support his return to work; something he was able to do in April of last year.

The law firm is now working to secure a final fair settlement for Tom to cover his care and rehabilitation needs for the rest of his life.

“It hasn’t been easy,” said Tom. “There have been so many things I have had to relearn and it was difficult to have to depend on so many people when I’d been such an independent person before the accident.

“I think my passion for sport helped me get through it in my darkest moments. My focus was always getting back to sport, getting back to coaching and, of course, getting back to Louise.

“I have had a wealth of support from my family, my friends and all the medical professionals who helped make my recovery a success story and for that I will be forever grateful.”

Tom has also become a supporter of Irwin Mitchell’s Don’t Quit Do It campaign, which aims to show how sport can help with rehabilitation from serious injuries.

A leading firm in helping brain injury victims to access specialist rehabilitation treatment, Irwin Mitchell is assisting Tom and his family with a legal case against the driver of the vehicle, who was convicted for failing to stop at the scene of the accident.

The firm has already secured the support of a case manager along with a specialist therapy package for Tom as he continues to recover.

Expert Opinion
“Tom and Louise are an amazing example of a couple who have defied the most traumatic and trying of circumstances to stay together and come out the other side stronger than ever.

“We see first-hand the terrible effects of brain injury on our clients, whether it be through illness or injury. A brain injury turns a person’s life upside-down; suddenly their families have to start researching facilities and therapies, not to mention start thinking about when their loved one returns home and the adaptions and care they may need.

“We were able to help Tom by appointing a case manager to assess his needs so we could secure funding for treatment and specialist rehabilitation. This has enabled Tom to continue the momentum of his recovery.

“Having visited him in the beginning, I could never have imagined how successful his rehabilitation would be. Tom is an inspiration to so many people suffering with severe brain injury and a testament to how love and support – and a love of sport - can lead to rehabilitation.”
Sarah Griggs, Associate

Tom’s skull was shattered and part of it had to be removed. The impact also badly fractured his left leg. He was initially admitted to the Royal London Hospital and then spent four months at the Regional Neurological Rehabilitation Unit (RNRU) at Homerton Hospital where he underwent physiotherapy, neuropsychology, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy

With daily rehabilitation he returned home to his parents in August 2013 with an aim of living independently, supported by Headway East London.

Tom was always keen to return to work and the life he shared with Louise before the accident. Armed with his degree in sports coaching he had landed a job as a coach for local primary schools, teaching youngsters about football, cricket, multi-sports and gymnastics. And when he wasn’t teaching sport, he was watching or playing it; from cricket, rugby and football, to running half marathons.

Desperate to get back to his former life, and with the help of the team at the RNRU, Tom successfully applied for further rehabilitation at the Queen Elizabeth
Foundation Neuro Rehabilitation Centre in Banstead, where intensive and ongoing rehabilitation and support meant that Tom was strong enough to move into an independent living unit at the centre and could have an off-road driving assessment to get him back on the road.

Tom was also able to get work experience at a local primary school to help him slowly get back on the career ladder. After four months in hospital care, he returned home where he continued his therapy.

It has been a year since Tom’s returned to his position as a sports coach, for just one day a week at first and now four days per week.

Tom and Louise, who got engaged in March this year, are now buying their first home together and are looking forward to putting Tom’s traumatic accident behind them.

Louise, 26, said: “I think it’s important for young people who may be in same situation as me, to know that there are others going through the same thing.

“I always wished there was a group of other young people I could have spoken to because it was obviously very difficult to see Tom going through such trauma and I had nobody who really knew how I felt.

“It’s understandable that there is such a high rate of relationship breakdown within couples where one has suffered a brain injury. It turns your life upside-down and puts a couple through such turmoil. It seems as though often the relationship becomes a casualty too.

“We’re the lucky ones I suppose. And now we have life ahead of us again, we plan to make the most of it."

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury, or if a loved one has died as a result of a pedestrian accident, our specialist road traffic accident lawyers could help you to claim compensation. Visit our Pedestrian Accident Claims page for more information.