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Personal Injury Claims – Accessing Rehabilitation

When newspapers write about personal injury claims, it is often to state the amount of money awarded. However, it is my experience that the vast majority of people injured would rather have not been injured at all, and are more concerned with what support they will require to live their lives as independently and fully as they can.

Rehabilitation plays a key role in the injured person’s case. The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers encourages all of its members to consider rehabilitation from minor cases to those involving life-changing injury.

In most cases, insurance companies recognise the value of rehabilitation to the injured person who may achieve an optimal outcome sooner rather than later. Insurers are often ready to invest in rehabilitation.

The Rehabilitation Code

I was recently instructed on a case where the injured person was a front seat passenger in a HGV. The driver lost consciousness at the wheel, causing the HGV to leave the motorway and crash down the embankment. The driver died and my client sustained a serious injury.

At the early stage, the cause of the driver’s loss of control is unknown. If the loss of control was due to an unforeseeable event then it is unlikely that negligence will be established against the driver and no payment of compensation will be made.

Notwithstanding the ongoing liability enquiries, the insurance company accepted our proposal that they fund rehabilitation under The Rehabilitation Code. This means that whatever the outcome of liability, the cost of the rehabilitation provided under the Code is born by the insurer. In my case, this meant we were able to put into place rehabilitation from the client’s discharge home from hospital, ensuring he was supported at that difficult time.

Interim Payments

An alternative approach is a case I concluded where I acted for a car driver when the defendant approaching from the opposite direction negligently crossed over into our client's traffic lane, causing a frontal collision.

Our client suffered serious lower limb injuries. The defendant insurer admitted liability and made substantial upfront interim payments to our client for him, via ourselves, to pay for treatment needs. This has the advantage of flexibility of having the money available to invest in treatment as the client instructs rather than seeking the insurers agreement.

Although I have cited above two successful examples of insurance companies committing to rehabilitation, there still remain other cases where an insurer may resist investing in rehabilitation. In these instances, personal injury solicitors are left with no option but to issue proceedings to seek the Court's decision on whether the insurer should be compelled to make a payment, and at what level.

Furthermore, insurance companies often want the injured person to rely upon NHS treatment, which can mean long waiting lists and inadequate numbers of treatment sessions. There is no requirement for the injured person to rely upon the NHS where responsibility is established against the defendant. The treatment can be sourced privately, subject to the injury being caused by the negligent act, and the cost being reasonable.

What Form Can Rehabilitation Take?

In minor cases, rehabilitation is often physiotherapy and psychological treatment.

In moderate cases involving orthopaedic injuries, rehabilitation steps up to include things like:

  • surgery costs
  • physiotherapy
  • psychological therapy
  • car adaptations (to perhaps an automatic)
  • domestic help in the home
  • support in returning to work.

In these cases, the injured party may engage the services of a Case Manager to lead the rehabilitation and arrange treatment on his or her behalf.

In severe cases of life-changing injury, such as with spinal cord injury, brain injury and limb loss, rehabilitation is substantial to cater for complex needs. The rehabilitation often includes for the above and consideration is also given to:

  • accommodation needs
  • prosthetic needs (in amputation cases)
  • aids and equipment
  • support workers
  • speech and language therapists
  • neuropsychology needs.

In these cases, there will almost always be a Case Manager experienced in dealing with the client’s injury to manage both the therapists and the needs of the client.

A solicitor specialising in personal injury claims ought to recognise and investigate rehabilitation on behalf of the client at the outset.

Immediate legal representation and rehabilitation support are available from anywhere in the UK and we offer hospital visits to anyone who is unable to attend one of our offices.

For a free consultation, call us 24/7 on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online.