Our Serious Injury solicitors helped a former dance teacher secure a six-figure compensation sum after a fall at work left her needing a Spinal Cord Simulator.
After completing her postgraduate certificate in education, Nicola began teaching at a secondary school in southern England. She started as Head of Dance at the school and was then promoted to Performing Arts Head three years later.
To get to Nicola’s Performing Arts department staff, students, and visitors needed to walk through the school’s main hall.
Nicola, gave dance classes in this hall which was also used for exams, assemblies and other classes. The hall’s hard parquet floor was often dusty because it was in constant use. Making it slippery, particularly in dance shoes.
Before her fall, Nicola had raised concerns to the school’s deputy about the floor’s suitability for dancing. It even got to the point where two students complained about the flooring.
The performing arts department then moved to a new dance studio but the space available limited Nicola’s design input. Due to asbestos beneath the new hall, installing a proper sprung dance floor wasn't possible. The dance studio was also limited to ten students at a time.
The studio wasn’t fit for purpose and in 2014, an external examiner told Nicola, it didn’t meet exam board requirements. Nicola consulted the deputy head and they moved classes and exams back to the main hall.
On the day of her accident, Nicola was preparing three students for an upcoming exam. They weren’t wearing proper dance shoes because as floor was too slippery.
Nicola’s students asked her to demonstrate a dance move for them. The move involved an aerial kick then landing on one foot. Nicola felt comfortable performing it as she’d completed it many times before.
Nicola slipped when landing and hit her lower back hard on the parquet floor. Her left wrist was in significant pain after trying to break her fall.
Nicola went to hospital, where an x-ray showed a complex fracture in her wrist. Hospital staff gave her a cast and discharged her the same day.
The Long-term Impact
Despite the quick turnaround at hospital, Nicola was still in intense pain which quickly became unbearable. She arranged to see a private physiotherapist even before her first scheduled appointment at the fracture clinic.
After seeing both the fracture clinic and physiotherapist, Nicola found out her fracture had splintered and the healing process would be even more complex. However, the pain persisted even after X-rays showing the fracture had healed.
Both her physiotherapist and the professor at the fracture clinic were greatly concerned. Six months after her fall, the fracture clinic suggested Nicola may be developing early Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). CRPS, causes excruciating pain and hypersensitivity in certain parts of the body.
Both medical experts then recommended twice-weekly therapy and a course of medication. However, this didn’t work and Nicola became increasingly upset and frustrated at the situation.
The clinic referred Nicola to a private CRPS specialist who noticed alarming symptoms including excessive hair and finger nail growth and a change in skin colour. Nicola also experienced hypersensitivity to touch with limited hand movement in all directions. The specialist formally diagnosed Nicola with Type 1 CRPS in March 2016.
As time progressed, Nicola found it harder to tolerate the pain. She also struggled with coming to terms that her injury was going to be a long term one.
Nicola had begun assessing alternative treatments after it became clear that her current course of therapy wasn’t working.
One option was a Spinal Cord Simulator, that required a two-week stay in hospital before the surgery. However, as Nicola had previously been part of a another clinical trial this wasn’t needed.
Following this surgery in May 2018, Nicola found it to be very beneficial. She believes there was around a 75% improvement with her pain. She also found her mobility and strength improved significantly.
Helping Nicola Find Answers
As she became increasingly frustrated at her situation Nicola, contacted our Serious Injury team to see how we could help. Serious Injury solicitor, Stephanie Pelling began working alongside Nicola in helping her in bringing a claim against the school.
Stephanie, began liability investigations collecting witness statements from students. Alongside these investigations she gathered expert medical opinions including, an Orthopaedic Consultant and Consultant in Pain Medicine.
Nicola’s students also provided witness statements confirming, the school hall flooring was unsafe. Initially, the school and it’s insurers denied liability.
However, the witness statements and evidence gathered by Stephanie led the school to make an offer to settle the claim. Despite making an offer to settle the claim the school never made a formal admission of their negligence.
Setting Her Sights on the Future
Six months following her surgery Nicola had gained much of her independence back. However, the fall and CRPS made employment tough for Nicola. A few months into her return at the school she resigned as she couldn’t continue.
Nicola, then worked various jobs that offered flexible hours. This was better for Nicola as she could work round her good and bad days. However, this didn’t provide financial security.
To assist with managing the symptoms of her CRPS Nicola, moved to Mallorca as the warm climate helped her with managing symptoms. Despite her resignation in the UK Nicola, was able to teach part time in Mallorca.
As Nicola used to live in Mallorca when she was younger, she’s been able to meet friends and quickly adjust to life abroad. Nicola’s also seen vast improvement thanks to her implant and experiences very little pain.
Following the support from Stephanie and the compensation we were able to secure Nicola’s, been able to put her fall behind her. The compensation has helped Nicola in her move abroad and provided financial security for her.
Stephanie added, “Nicola’s road to recovery has been a long one. She’s been able to overcome many setbacks and show incredible determination to get where she is today. I’m delighted to have been able to help Nicola in her road to recovery.”
If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury, we may be able to help. Contact our serious injury team by calling 0370 1500 100.
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