"Rosie is the bravest person I’ve ever met. She’s full of life and her bright, positive outlook can light up any room.
I’ve been at Irwin Mitchell for 15 years, starting as a trainee solicitor in 2007 and qualifying in 2009. I work within the serious injury team and see my role as helping people to rebuild their lives and maximise their recovery.
I met one of my clients, Rosie, in hospital a few weeks after her injury. I was newly qualified at the time and it wasn’t lost on me that Rosie wasn’t much younger than me. I found myself wondering how she was coping with everything she’d been through and I just wanted to help. Rosie had been involved in a road traffic collision just three days before Christmas in 2009, which left her with a C5 spinal cord injury. Her prognosis was unknown and the whole family were in shock.
We built a strong rapport from the outset. The early conversations weren’t necessarily focused on the legal claim, but building a relationship with Rosie and gaining her trust by finding out what was important to her. We spoke about her friends and family, university life, her interest in music and what she wanted to do when she was out of hospital.
During her nine months in the Spinal Injuries Unit in Sheffield, I spent lots of time with her, going through the documents and advising her about how to get physio and occupational therapy in place for the best chance of rehabilitation. We had many difficult conversations around the case, the risks and her future, but Rosie was always very calm and engaged.
We were both in very formative parts of our lives – I was in the early stages of my career and Rosie was at the start of rebuilding her life, so we were both navigating different challenges at similar times. Knowing everything Rosie was going through made me incredibly determined to succeed with her case.
Being able to secure the interim payments was so important. It wasn’t just about Rosie’s rehabilitation, the payments were crucial to her independence and dignity. They helped Rosie’s family to extend and rebuild their property to give her access to the whole house, building a bedroom and a wet room to help restore Rosie’s quality of life. They also allowed Rosie to attend Leeds festival, which she loved. This kept her morale up during such a long legal process.
She, quite rightly, wasn’t willing to compromise on the rest of her life when she was entirely innocent and was the one who had suffered. She trusted our advice, so, despite the risk, the case went all the way to trial on liability.
It was important to make the trial as inclusive and accessible as possible for Rosie so she felt comfortable. The trial was an incredibly heightened situation, but Rosie was so focused and spoke so intelligently, it made the job much easier.
When we were told we were successful, we just looked at each other and smiled, it was a huge relief. This was a career defining experience, and still gives me goose bumps now! It was a great outcome, which would allow Rosie to move forward with her life and not worry about being able to have the care and therapy she required.
Rosie and I speak regularly and meet for coffees to walk her golden doodle Daisy. Watching her live her life and find the positives despite the many challenges constantly reminds me of why I do this job, and I’m so proud of how far she’s come.
She loves the summer season and after her case was settled, with the help of our financial planning expert Ed Tomlinson, she’s bought a villa in Spain and adapted it to provide accommodation for wheelchair users.
In the early days of my career, I’ll admit that I often found myself overcome with emotion, looking at the gravity of Rosie’s injuries and just wishing things were different for my client. While I can’t turn back time and give her the life she once had back, I can take pride in the confident, courageous and clever young lady I get to call my friend.
It’s been a privilege representing Rosie, because she’s an absolute joy. Her case meant everything to us, and knowing that we’ve turned her fear into determination means a lot to me and my team – that’s the human touch that mattered."
Read Rosie's full story
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