TWIN sisters Anna and Lauren Khan admit they have been “inseparable” since birth.
With their shared love of music, art and travel the pair made sure to throw themselves into exploring every aspect of their interests, regularly attending concerts, shows and living life to the full.
Graphic design student Anna was just weeks from her driving test when the sisters’ decided to spend a weeknight watching an amateur dramatics show at their local college, based on the music of Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley.
“Like any other 20-year-old, I went to college, worked part-time in a local store and had my own car as I was taking driving lessons,” said Anna.
“I loved spending time with my family and college mates; I was a very happy and confident girl.”
However, a night that should have been filled with enjoyment at watching their fellow students perform changed in an instant as they left Rotherham College on a freezing night in December 2015.
Now residing in the East Craigs area of the Capital, the pair were walking home when Anna followed friend Luke across the road as they attempted to get home to Sheffield for the night.
But to Lauren’s horror, she could only watch as her “best friend” was sent sprawling over the bonnet of a car driving along the road, slamming her head into the tarmac and causing life-changing injuries.
The pair have now taken their case to the High Court in London, attempting to sue the driver of the car, Ian Burnell, of Dinnington, Sheffield, for loss of earnings and medical expenses.
Traumatised Lauren was forced to watch on helplessly as Anna was rushed to the Northern General Hospital by ambulance, spending over a month in an induced coma before slowly regaining consciousness as desperate family members waited by her bedside.
She told the Headway charity the disorientation of waking up in a different year had caused severe distress, adding: “I do not remember any of my days in hospital. Everything I know is what my family has since told me. The last thing I can remember after my injury is one day at the rehabilitation centre around February time. I can remember waking up and being very confused about everything.
“When I regained my bearings, I was disorientated to discover that it was 2016 as my accident happened in 2015. Remembering things and places was a struggle, with some memories from before the accident being blurred.”
The family relocated to Edinburgh from Sheffield in October 2016 to be closer to extended family members, but Anna revealed the move did little to help her recovery.
She said: “I found moving to a new area very difficult as it’s unknown terrain.”
“It distresses me and I feel my family certainly picked up on my emotions. Even now, I struggle with the bustle when there’s a lot of people in our house. I miss my home and two brothers who are still in Sheffield but hope that, with help, I can visit them.
“Keeping up with conversations is a big challenge if the pace is too fast or filled with a lot of information. I’m happier when there are only one or two people talking at a time or else I can’t keep track and get upset.”
Anna continued: “Time to myself throughout the day helps to boost my energy and mood. Having a sleep during the day, that helps with managing fatigue after brain injury.”
Determined to work through her life challenges after brain injury, defiant Anna now plans to complete her HND in Graphic Design through a distance learning course.
She said: “My future plans certainly involve finishing my education, but also finding out what I enjoy doing as I no longer enjoy the hobbies I once loved before my accident.”
“Studying at home will enable me to read in my own time and find out how I can cope with studying following my head injury. My future looks very positive and will definitely get better for me.”
But while Anna’s battle with physical injury was only just becoming apparent, Lauren’s fight with the emotional trauma of witnessing the accident only became apparent later on.
In court documents, Lauren revealed the distress had left her with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), rendering her unable to attend university as planned and potentially causing a loss of future earnings.
The sisters allege the driver of the black Skoda Octavia was negligent in failing to slow down and remain aware of the road hazards.
Lauren is seeking damages of up to £50,000 while Anna, who sues through her father Agha Khan, is seeking unlimited damages of more than £200,000.
But if she succeeds on a full liability basis her claim could result in an award running into millions of pounds, which could include the cost of care for the rest of her life.
Mr Burnell disputes he was negligent and blames Anna for the accident.
He says he was unable to see the pair as he approached the junction, because they were blocked from view by the bus, which was waiting at the junction to turn left.
He was driving at about 32mph along the road, when Mr Booth ran across the road, closely followed by Miss Khan who hit his car, he says.
The two were visible to him for less than one second before Mr Booth suddenly ran across the road, he says, and gave him no chance to reduce his speed or react to their sudden decision to cross the road. Miss Anna Khan, he claims, was negligent by failing to heed his approach, failing to stop and wait until he had driven past, following her friend when it was unsafe, and failing to pay attention.