The Importance of a “Rehabilitation-Driven Approach” to Compensation
Brain and Spinal injuries: Legal Issues
Unlike other injuries, the full impact and extent of brain and spinal injury can often take years to become fully apparent. What’s more, these are injuries which can require a vast range of medical care, the full extent often only becoming clear over a considerable period of time. That’s why, from a legal point of view, clients with brain and spinal injuries need an agile response to cope with initial needs coupled with a clear, long-term assessment and approach.
A first step to helping a client make a claim for compensation is to understand fully the causes of the injury. Some are the result of poor care and medical negligence during birth, others from accidents in cars or on motorcycles, in the home, from defective products or whilst swimming, boating or taking part in sport, to name a few. They can also occur in conjunction with other physical and psychological injuries. And, whilst many brain and spinal injuries occur through violent falls or impact, they can also happen through whiplash or other trauma due to acceleration or deceleration.
To best help a client seeking to make a claim, it’s vital from the outset to get a diagnosis and prognosis which is as accurate as possible. This often requires a second or third expert medical opinion which a specialist lawyer, like my colleagues and me, can arrange.
Understanding the diagnosis, prognosis and the implications of the client’s injury is a crucial part of the lawyer’s role. This analysis often happens shortly after the injury or accident when the client and family are still dealing with the aftermath and shock of what’s occurred. A lawyer who specialises in brain and spinal injury understands in depth the terminology and processes and is best placed to support clients and their carers at this difficult time. They have so many issues to deal with and need the reassurance that their legal affairs are being handled by an expert.
We often emphasise the importance of taking a rehabilitation driven approach to all brain and spinal injury cases. This draws on the Insurance Industry’s Rehabilitation Code of Best Practice. It ensures clients get the treatment and interim payments they need, for example to adapt a home or buy a new one, before any final compensation settlement is agreed.
What’s more, a holistic and rehabilitative approach to brain and spinal injured people can also facilitate the re-opening of a case after settlement where there is an identified risk of deterioration or later development of a serious condition. As we’ve noted, the full impact of any injuries to the brain can only become apparent over time or injuries can be classed as “subtle”. In some cases, the client appears and behaves normally. Other cases require life-long round-the-clock care.
Whatever the nature of the case, whenever possible, the earlier rehabilitation treatment can start the better the outcome usually is for a client. Insurers appreciate this, which is why they operate the Code.
Top class medical support is often based on a solid and realistic compensation settlement. We recognise that the life-long challenges facing all those touched by the injury are ones that money can seldom cure. However, we know that when the enormous financial burdens often resulting from catastrophic brain and spinal injury are not additional concerns, it makes a huge difference to the quality of life of clients and their loved ones. A successful brain injury claims settlement that covers the cost of a quality care package goes a long way towards helping a client and family re-build their lives.
Chris Moore is a member of the Law Society’s specialist clinical negligence and personal injury accredited panels, also one of the team at experts at Neil Hudgell Solicitors. Between them they have decades of experience in multi-million pound settlements for complex brain and spinal injury cases. For a confidential consultation with an expert call 0800 321 3322 or www.neil-hudgell.co.uk
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