A 4 1/2 year tale of woe.

Jester

Getting there...
Location
Northants, UK
You may want a comfy chair and suitable drink for this one. There will also be an intermission at an appropriate point [when the 10 000 character limit is reached!]. There is a bit of graphic stuff so if squeamish you may want to give this a miss.

Sunday Sept 24th 2017 saw me heading to Higham Ferrers on my owned-from-new 18 year old 104 000 mile CB500 to lead a ride to the Shuttleworth Collection [old aircraft]. About 12 miles in I have to pass Old Towcestrians Rugby Club and at that time of day it is kids rugby practice and there are always cars turning into the car park, I can see over the hedges from about 1/4 mile away that there is a queue so slow to 50 [60 limit] on the approach for the last bend about 300 yards from the car park entrance. As I approach a queuing car turns across my path. I slam on the brakes but I have a new front tyre [30 miles on it] so get the juddering through the bars that signals an imminent lock so let off. I look to pass to the rear of the turning car but there is another behind it, then look to the front of the car with a view of going up the drop kerb and along the path but the car has now blocked this. Another look to go behind is still a no-go so the last desperate chance is to turn into the car park in front of the car and stop before hitting someone. Remember the bit about the new tyre? I am turning and can feel the front tyre skipping and as I look at a 4" x 4" fence post directly in front of me I an thinking "this is going to hurt" and wondering if I will break both legs. Then the car got in the way.

At this point I had scrubbed off speed to about 25-30 mph by my estimate, the speedo is locked at 20. I hit the car at about a 45° angle taking the impact on the front wheel of the bike and my right-hand side, removing the front bumper of the car. I remember all but about a tenth of a second, including the feeling of my leg snapping. Witnesses said I was thrown into the air and nutted the windscreen which is the bit I don't remember then I was on the deck actually sitting against the front passenger door of the car. Although I am a rufty-tufty biker I was screaming, then shouting help, then asking someone to call an ambulance. Various people came to my aid, but none seemed to know first aid or accident scene management beyond telling the front seat passenger to get out the drivers side!

Feeling a lot of pain in my leg was a good sign, but not as good as wriggling my toes and feeling them move-I thought 'thank swear word beginning with 'F' for that". Looking at my leg I could see I now had two knee joints and my arm was also obviously broken. I managed to get my wallet out of my pocket and passed my driving licence to a bystander and told them that if I passed out they must give that to the ambulance crew. As I don't have a family this is the only way they could access my details. I also managed to call the people I was meeting up with and told the I wouldn't be along as I had been in a bit of a dink with me off to hospital and my bike needing to be recovered. To give you an idea of the state I was in I didn't even ask how my beloved bike was!

Next up come the emergency services, a complete set of paramedic car, ambulance, police and fire engine. The ambulance crew are kind enough not to cut my leather jacket off and unzip rather than cut off my boots. The leather trousers now look like a grass skirt and they cut off my Kreiga R20 rucksack. I had already removed my lid and right glove and a bystander removed my left one. After a bottle of entonox [gas and air], canula for the morphine and ketamine it is decided that I need my first ever go in a helicopter as the Air Ambulance is called out. The various drugs mean I remember a little of being carried to the big yellow chopper and a bit of the landing, but to be honest I was that high they may have towed me behind it instead of putting me inside.

I ended up in Coventry A&E where I was assessed, CT scanned, ultrasounded and put in the high dependancy unit [HDU] with a plastered arm, tractioned leg and morphine drip. On the Monday it was off to theatre where two surgical teams worked on me for four-and-a-half hours, the arm had a fracture that was straight across the humerus so they had to line it up properly without an angled break to help with the plating and my femur had two breaks, one at the neck and one mid-shaft which was a compound-meaning the bone had come through the skin. I also had two fractured ribs and an assortment of internal injuries. The lead of the team that fixed this with a femoral nail [so called as they really do bang it in with a hammer] said that the alignment was an issue and there were "lots of sexual swear words" during the procedure.
 

Jester

Getting there...
Location
Northants, UK
The following day physio begins with being got out of bed on a 'turntable' then rotated to sit in a chair. Believe me that hurts. I was also "not looking at all well" according to my medical reports and there were concerns that my gut had died due to the injuries. One of the people I was meeting up with for the ride popped in a few days later and asked how the hell I called him to say I wouldn't be there when he saw the state I was in. The issue with the extensive facial injuries was resolved when the medics looked at the photo on my driving licence and realised I looked like that before the accident. After a week the catheter was removed and the following day I started peeing blood then getting very worried as no-one will tell you that after the catheter is removed it is likely this will happen!

At this point I kept getting calls from a bike hire company that were asking if I would like a hire bike, twice I told them 'no' as I was in hospital and after the third call when I said "yes-but can you deliver it to the fifth floor of Coventry hospital and leave it at the end of my bed" they got the message. Unless you absolutely have to never take a hire bike, these are charged at over £100 per day and you are held responsible for the payments. If you win the claim the charges are paid for by the insurers which all adds to the premiums.

Over the next three weeks I improved and was moved onto a 'normal' ward and started having the stapes removed from my arm and leg. The arm was opened up for about 8" to fit the plate and the leg was fully filletted judging by the scar from above my waist to just above the knee. Three weeks after the accident I was about to be sent home when I had a sudden and severe pain below my knee during what was to be my last physio session. If sitting in the road with no anasthetic was a '10' on the pain scale then this was a good 8 to 9. I was sent for an MRI and another break was found in my tibia which couldn't be detected in the initial CT scan. I was told "no more physio for you, sonny" until it had been assessed as I may need another op to secure that with some metal as well. Later I was given the all clear and told to resume physio as the break had started to heal and so I spent another 10 days in Coventry hospital before they kicked me out.

Arriving at home I took it easy for a day, then went to the post box which is a 10 min round trip, this took me an hour with a stick and realising that as usual I had overdone things. Why the postbox? Well, there is a LOT of paperwork for the insurance company when you are in a serious accident. 14 days after leaving hospital I was back on a bike-even though I still couldn't walk at all well-for a couple of laps of the village. The next day was my first out of hospital NHS physio appointment and she wasn't at all impressed when I said I had been back on a bike, but she gave me a stick that I could fit in a rucksack so I could get off at the other end and go for longer rides...

As well as the insurance paperwork there are police statements, these can take over an hour as the person recording them has to write them out by hand. Then there is the job. I had started with a new company 5 months before my accident after over 20 years with my previous employer-talk about timing. I expected to be back at work before Xmas as it was only a few broken bones and I had been on circuit with James Ellison when he had a similar amount of scaffolding and he was still a lot quicker than me [he also taught me how to trail brake more effectively and reduce my lap times]. At the work Xmas dinner I had to cadge a ift and was in a shirt and tracksuit bottoms as I had a knee brace on. Easter rolled around and despite asking to go back I wasn't allowed to due to the nature of the job and I was laid off. Don't think that was harsh though as I would have got rid of me far sooner than that. I called an old colleague who told me of some companies that may be looking for soemone [I work in a fairly specialised field] and the following day had an interview and job offer.

At this point I also received notification that the driver had pled guilty to driving without due care and attention and was given six points and a total of £660 in fines and costs. Bear in mind that if he had beaten me this badly on a Saturday night at kicking out time he would have been looking at a considerable custodial sentance.

I was off to hospital about every six weeks from November 2017 to June 2018 with physio and other treatment for an infection in my leg. Because my recovery was slow I also had to have blood tests to see if there was a deep infection in the bone and after 3 years it was decided I was unlikely to recover further, being left with nerve damage in my right hand, a right leg about ½" shorter than it was, a permanent limp and not being able to sleep properly due to the pain. I had to give up my Open University degree studies and even sitting for extended periods is painful.

The insurance case ground slowly on. Luckily I had been saving to get my windows and doors replaced so could afford everything I needed including a car [I had previously had a company one] and the insurance [£200 more than a friends only just passed 18 year old daughter as company car no claims are disregarded and I had been in an accident]. Not only that, even though the driver had pled to DC&A it was three years before my no claims was corrected. About this time the defendants insurers offered me £50 000 to settle-I was already out of pocket this much! I had to have two further MRI scans, medicals in Cambridge and Epsom and lots of paperwork for the case which was scheduled to be heard in Northampton County Court in September 2022-over three days!

Once all the paperwork was in place with the court and a pre-trial settlement hearing date was agreed the defendants then requested an employment consulatnt be used to find me a better paid job! As I was on £10 000 less they thought I sould do better; this was agreed to and then it's two Zoom sessions, on with the defendant's consultant and one with one from my side. In May 2022 I had another online meeting with the solicitor employed by my insurers and the barrister involved in the case. This detailed what could be expected from the settlement meeting [before the court case and aimed at sorting it out before it goes to court] and the court if it goes that far.

Suddenly two weeks later I get two offers of settlement, a Part 36 and an additional sum if I settle within 7 days. I call the solicitor as no-one offers a large sum without strings. It turns out that the suggestion I take up teaching from the defendants consultant has stuffed their case. I would need four years at university [3 for a degree and a PGCE] then try to get a job at 56 as a new teacher on less money than in my current job. As there were no strings to either offer and the extra sum is less than the likely costs if the case carried on I accepted the higher offer. It is a sum that is far less than the libel case that two footballers wives are fighting as the injury, pain and suffering payments are nominal and it is the loss of earnings and pension that make up the majority of the sellement. In my case the injuries are 'worth' about £20 000.

The case was finally settled in June 2022, over four and a half years since the accident The sum I received is the 'right' amount for my financial losses to take me up to retirement. I have a pile of paperwork about 6" thick and several hundred emails related to this case. One good thing did come of it, I 'bought back' my CB500 then completely stripped it before organising a 24 hour bike push for the Air Ambulance from the Super Sausage at Potterspury to Granny's Cafe in Weedon which raised over £2700 with a lot of help from my friends, even non-biking ones.

If you have any choice in the matter don't have a dink. I'm a very experienced [riding continuously since 1986 and cover 16-20 K miles per year] and trained [IAM and RoSPA advanced test passed, 7 years an IAM Observer] rider and I was stuffed as soon as the car turned across me. I was wearing full kit with armor which more than likely saved me from worse injury and despite thinking that the legal aid bit of my insurance was a waste of money it came in handy in this case.

If you read this far thank-you for your perseverance!
 

Jester

Getting there...
Location
Northants, UK
So the question is, given your last paragraph, what would you do different next time?
I hope there won't be a next time!

I knew the road and that there would be traffic so I had slowed from the speed limit and the driver had at least five seconds of seeing be coming but turned. I was too close to stop and there was no way out [usually better than trying to stop]. The only thing I could have done differently was leave home a minute later.
 
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