A cyclist who was left permanently disabled after she was hit by a car has launched a legal battle for more than £300,000 compensation.
Tara Butterfill suffered a traumatic brain injury which left her deaf in her right ear, unable to walk for long periods without help and has stopped her from working as a Revenue and Customs officer.
Doctors told the 32-year-old mother-of-two that if the car had been travelling just one mile per hour faster she would have been killed in the crash.
She was cycling to work along Worthing Road in Littlehampton in March 2007 when she was hit on the back of her head by the car wing mirror.
She was in intensive care in Worthing Hospital for about a week with a fractured skull and a brain haemorrhage and doctors were not sure if she would survive.
Ms Butterfill, who lives in Oak End, Arundel, with her partner Richard Lucas and children Sacha, 10, and Connor, 7, said: “The doctors were not expecting me to live. I came around and I just wanted to be at home. It was a horrible feeling.
“The first six months were really hard. I couldn’t do simple things like getting a loaf of bread and I can’t drive anymore.”
She now suffers from memory and concentration loss, poor motivation, balance problems and difficulty controlling her temper.
She is claiming damages from motorist Andrew Poole, from Wick, near Littlehampton, and his employers Lidbetter & Keith for the crash which she said changed her life.
She said: “I don’t hate the person that’s done it. I think accidents happen. I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“What is unfortunate is it has changed who I am.
“I am not the same person I was. I used to take my kids to the beach and the park and I can’t now which I find quite hard.
“Also the children found it hard I think. I had a fracture in my head but to look at me you couldn’t see anything wrong. It was really hard for them to understand because if my arm was broken it would be in plaster but I just had a few scratches.”
Mr Poole was fined £200 with six penalty points by Worthing Magistrates on August 2008 after being convicted of careless driving.
Despite the ordeal, Ms Butterfill is philosophical about the crash.
She said: “I have been told I was so lucky. If that vehicle was going one mile per hour more I would not be here. But I don’t feel lucky.
“There is obviously a reason I am still here. You have to get through it because sitting in your bedroom feeling sorry for myself will not help will it? I have got the children to think of. I am still here because I am not finished I suppose.”
Lidbetter & Keith insurers Allianz admitted liability for the accident in July 2007.
Martin Saunders, Allianz technical claims manager, said: “The two sides are still talking. We are agreeing with Ms Butterfill and her legal team a remuneration programme and that has been ongoing since the accident.
“You can’t always mend people but you can do the best for them which is something we have done.”