Foreign accent syndrome affects less than 100 people worldwide
BECTU and Thompsons Solicitors have secured £50,000 in compensation for a member who was injured when the driver of the bus she was travelling on was forced to make an emergency stop.
The woman was standing up ready to get off the bus when a car forced the bus driver to brake suddenly, throwing her down the aisle. She rushed off the bus, shocked and embarrassed.
Three weeks after the accident the BECTU member lost her speech, following symptoms of dizziness and facial numbness. Her speech returned a month later, but it did so with a foreign accent.
Foreign accent syndrome is a rare speech disorder that affects fewer than 100 people worldwide and causes sufferers to develop speech patterns that sound like a foreign accent.
The condition left the member not wanting to speak at all. She gets anxious when leaving the house because of the surprising and sometimes unkind responses her condition prompts. She took ill health retirement after nearly 25 years of interacting daily with customers in the entertainment industry.
Having been told by another solicitor that she did not have a case, the member felt lost until BECTU recommended she contact Thompsons Solicitors.
“I felt that everywhere I turned nobody could give us an answer,” she said. “Then I called Thompsons. At that moment it was a desperate plea for help. Someone called me back and from there things got much better. My husband and I had been trying to deal with it all alone, so it was a huge relief.”
The case has marked a turning point in her life.
“I have cried my tears but there has to be a point where you pick yourself up and get on with life,” she said. “No amount of tears are going to alter what happened. You have to find a way to be grateful for the life you have and not think too deeply about what you have lost.”
Gerry Morrissey, head of BECTU, said: “Whilst nothing will make up for the emotional and physical trauma of our member’s accident, we are pleased that she was at least able to access the legal support she needed. We are proud to be able to combine our expertise with that of Thompsons and work together to protect the rights and interests of our members.”
Lisa Shaw, of Thompsons Solicitors, said: “The negligent driving of an untraced vehicle sparked a series of events that have had life-changing consequences for our client.
“What first appeared to be minor injuries soon took on more serious implications. The support of her union was vital in finding her the legal support she and her family needed to help them in her claim for compensation.”
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