Sydney-born armed services veteran Kathy is no stranger to tough work. After 5 and a half years in the navy, a blossoming career in emergency services, and a mum to three boys under the age of 12, she’s got the wit, no-nonsense attitude and strength to tackle almost anything.
In August 2019, that determination was put to the test after Kathy was hit while crossing the road by a car travelling at 70km/hour on the Gold Coast Highway.
Two weeks later, and less than a week after she walked out of hospital, she received a letter from an insurance agency demanding she pay up for damage done to the car that hit her.
Kathy talks about her life-changing accident.
Split-second, life-changing moment
After leaving her gym, Kathy was crossing at the lights at a busy intersection when she was struck by a car going over 70km/hr.
“I turned and looked both ways; I looked left, I double checked to my right, and then the second I stepped off the curb I saw movement out the corner of my eye,” she says.
“I instinctively put my hand out and my shoulder took full force of the hit.”
Kathy flew into the air and across the bonnet of the vehicle, losing consciousness almost instantly. Her husband and three boys saw the accident as they sat in the car, waiting for her to cross the road.
A long journey to recovery
A hit like that can be deadly, and the medical staff that treated Kathy didn’t think she would survive. She had multiple serious injuries: broken ribs, haematoma to the head, fractured skull, dislocated shoulder and torn rotator cuff.
Kathy spent a week in hospital before being discharged awaiting surgery on her shoulder. She describes the pain as unrelenting.
“I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t do anything. For the first month I couldn’t walk. My husband would have to come and wash my hair. My parents came up from NSW to help with the kids,” says Kathy.
“I’m very independent and like to do things myself. It made me really cranky.”
More than 18 months after the accident, Kathy has a large scar on her shoulder from her surgeries and permanent gravel indents in her arm and leg from when she hit the road.
It was time to talk
Two weeks after the accident, Kathy received a letter from the insurance company of the driver who hit her.
“It said that I was at fault and owed them money [for the repairs on the driver’s car],” says Kathy. “I rang the number, explained the situation. Initially they were understanding – but after writing an email outlining the accident, the response I received was so aggressive and rude.”
The insurance company claimed Kathy was at fault for not crossing the road at a designated crossing. Kathy felt like this was a slap in the face.
“I know that a driver has to give way to a pedestrian. And the driver who hit me didn’t,” she says. “I wasn’t being careless. I know what the road is like.”
Kathy knew it was time to talk to a lawyer.
“I just wanted to understand what my rights were. It felt unfair. When I spoke to Smith’s, they treated me like a person. They were nice from day one. They asked how I was.”
Life looks different after an accident. It’s the little things that make the biggest difference.
“I’ve worked really hard with my physio to get my shoulder back to how it was,” says Kathy. “It’s getting better, but it’s still not 100% there.”
But as Kathy explains, it’s her sons she worries about the most.
“They sometimes still have nightmares about what happened. They saw it all happen in real time so I worry about how it will affect them.”
Now that her claim with Smith’s Lawyers has settled, Kathy’s keen to put the accident behind her and move on with life.
“If I didn’t have my family and Smith’s Lawyers helping me through, I’d given up,” she says.
“Like I’ve said from the start, if you’ve got the right people behind you – don’t give up because anything’s possible.”
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