In a case at the Royal Courts of Justice (RCJ) today (12 May), UNISON, the UK’s leading public sector union, has won £441,227 for a nurse who suffered disabling injuries after her car was hit by a drunken driver.

The 47-year-old, from Uxbridge in Middlesex, was on her way to visit a patient, when her Ford Focus was hit in the rear by a Luton lorry on Queen’s Walk in Ruislip in May 2007. She was left with severe whiplash injuries to her neck and back, and developed Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CPRS), a chronic condition which has forced her to give up her 25-year long career as a community nurse.

Car hit by lorry

On the day of the accident she was waiting at a junction to turn right when the lorry swerved from around the corner behind her, smashing into three parked cars before ploughing into her car. Although she initially felt fine, over the next week she began to suffer whiplash injuries. The pain became so bad that she was sent home from work and hasn’t been able to return since.

The lorry driver was charged with driving under the influence and received a driving ban. He also admitted liability for the accident, but his employer’s insurers, PHS Investments, refused to accept her injuries meant she was no longer able to work, forcing the case to court.

Compensation awarded by court

Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, said:

“After a lengthy court battle, our member has finally got the compensation she deserves. But this money will not make up for what she has lost. Not only has she had to give up her job, which has robbed her of a career she loved, the taxpayer has lost a great community nurse with 25 years of experience. She should never have had to wait so long for justice.”

The member said: “I loved working as a community nurse. It was a job I had wanted to do since I was a child and I went into training as soon as I left school. I find it difficult to believe that I’ve had to give up my dream career all because of an irresponsible drunk driver.

“My injuries have touched every aspect of my life. Apart from having to give up my job, I now walk with a stick and can no longer take part in the hobbies I used to enjoy. That driver’s decision to get behind the wheel whilst drunk has ruined my life.”

Lisa Gunner from Thompsons Solicitors, acting for UNISON, added: “This judgment is a victory for common sense. Our client’s life has been turned upside down by the actions of a drunk driver yet she has been forced to fight her case through the courts system to receive justice.

“The insurers have treated her appallingly, even suggesting that her disability was not caused by the accident. Our client has now been vindicated and we hope that she will now be able to continue her life in the best way possible.”