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Driver Who Caused Head On Crash Leaving Woman With Life Changing Injuries Sentenced To Jail

Margaret Pattenden Was Just Eight Days From Retirement When She Suffered A Broken Neck And Ribs Following The Smash In East Sussex


A driver who caused a head-on crash which left a 71-year-old grandmother with a broken neck has been given three years in jail and disqualified from driving for three years at Lewes Crown Court after being found guilty of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Margaret Pattenden, from Rotherfield, East Sussex was just eight days from retirement when the crash happened on June 25 last year, leaving her needing surgery to pin four vertebrae in her neck, and a tracheotomy to help her breathe.

Margaret instructed expert serious injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to take legal action against the driver’s insurers in order to help her access specialist spinal cord injury rehabilitation and support after the crash which left her needing a wheelchair.

Moments before the collision, Margaret was driving southbound on the A26 at Herons Ghyll in East Sussex. Peter Harris was traveling in the opposite direction when he illegally overtook a vehicle in front of him, careening head-on into Margaret’s red Nissan Note.

Margaret was airlifted to St George’s Hospital in Tooting where she was heavily sedated and placed on a ventilator.

The following day, the grandmother-of-one underwent surgery to pin her C4, C5, C6 and C7 vertebrae and a tracheotomy before being transferred to the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath and then Stoke Mandeville Hospital for specialist spinal cord injury rehabilitation.

Irwin Mitchell was able to secure funding from the driver’s insurers which paid for a case manager to coordinate Margaret’s treatment and rehabilitation.

Using these funds, Margaret was also able to be discharged to Burrswood Hospital in Kent, which is closer to her home, enabling her to continue to receive the therapies that she needed, whilst also being visited by friends and family, which was a huge support for her.

Margaret was due to retire just eight days after the crash, and was planning to sell her home and hairdressing business, Tudor House Hair Stylists, before enjoying her retirement in Rotherfield.

Margaret said: “It’s been a real struggle and life has obviously changed from a very active one to one much more limited while I adjust to my injuries and continue my rehabilitation.

“I do feel very lucky though to have had an amazing team of specialists around me; from the firemen, air ambulance crew and paramedics, to the spinal injury experts and therapists who have helped my recovery so far, and to my case manager who has been able to ensure I’ve had access to everything I need.

“The crash obviously had a huge impact not just on me, but my family and friends too; everything was suddenly put on hold. But I am now just looking forward to moving on with life and enjoying my retirement.”

Due to the severity of her injuries, Margaret was unable to return to her home and business where she had lived and worked for nearly 30 years. Irwin Mitchell used the funds secured from the insurance company to rent a flat to accommodate her and her 24-hour live-in carers, as well as an electric wheelchair and other equipment to make life as comfortable as possible. She will eventually need to move to an adapted home with better access.

Exactly one year after the accident, Margaret was able to celebrate her retirement with over 70 friends and customers at the Kings Arms pub in Rotherfield.

Expert Opinion
“Prior to the accident, Margaret was a highly independent woman; she enjoyed a busy and active life, playing bowls, going on day trips and holidays and looking after the village’s hairstyles since the mid-1980s.

“She had been looking forward to her retirement and spending time with her four-year-old grandson when she suffered these horrific injuries and their life-changing consequences.

“We are now working to secure Margaret an adapted home close to friends and family where she can live as comfortably as possible and continue her rehabilitation.”
Tracey Storey, Partner

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