Injuries worsened by earlier mental health problem

01 November 2023

Ruth* had a crash after being knocked off a motorbike, suffering various injuries.


Many years before Ruth had been diagnosed with a condition where she focused on physical symptoms, although she was not suffering from it at the time of the crash. 

In the months after the incident, it appeared that she would recover from her injuries, however, over time, she realised that the pain was getting worse and had a long time off work. This led to financial worries and fear that she was relapsing. Matters spiralled with the physical symptoms perpetuating the psychological reaction, and vice-versa.

How we helped

Once instructed, we appointed a spinal surgeon expert who while considering that the injury should have fully resolved within some months, recognised that the psychological response was causing the ongoing pain.  So they recommended getting an opinion from a specialist psychiatrist. It turned out that Ruth had suffered a relapse and was unlikely to improve or return to work.

Other challenges

Whilst the insurers admitted liability, they contested the extent of the injuries due to the incident. This meant that Ruth had to experience particular challenges, such as being interviewed by a psychiatrist appointed by the insurer, which meant reliving the incident and its impact. 

We sensitively supported her because we understood the impact of her condition. Another feature was how difficult Ruth would find giving evidence in court at trial. This is stressful for anyone, but for Ruth, the prospect was almost unbearable.


We negotiated a substantial settlement for Ruth which would allow her financial security.  However the case underlines the importance of recognising the barriers to justice faced by people with poor mental health. 

Our court system works against people with mental health obstacles; they are vulnerable and need greater understanding, empathy, and support from their laywers.


*Not their real name

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