Claimants for personal injury damages in Jersey, Guernsey and other Channel Island jurisdictions face unique challenges that require navigation by experts in the relevant law. International Injury partner Scott Rigby explains how bringing an injury claim differs in these jurisdictions.
Mercifully, the number of people sustaining life-changing injuries in Channel Island jurisdictions is rare. However, due to the nature of locally available legal services, there are often few locally based lawyers with the necessary experience or resources to handle complex claims competently.
We have achieved several successful settlements on behalf of Jersey-resident clients, including the first periodical payment order in Jersey and the first periodical payment order under the new Damages (Jersey) Law 2019. Our team has also secured a number of settlements in Commonwealth jurisdictions in the Caribbean and Africa.
Stewarts’ International Injury team has recently secured instructions to assist three Guernsey residents:
- a 20-year-old man who sustained a spinal cord injury as a result of a road traffic accident
- an 81-year-old man who sustained a brain injury as a result of a road traffic accident, and
- the family of a seven-year-old boy who sustained cerebral palsy due to medical negligence at his birth.
What are the challenges of bringing personal injury claims in the Channel Islands?
Pursuing a claim on behalf of a client who lives in the Channel Islands can pose several challenges to the inexperienced practitioner.
Although lying just off the south coast of England, the Channel Islands are not part of the United Kingdom and have different systems for the state provision of welfare benefits and healthcare. Specialist knowledge is required to navigate these systems to ensure clients receive their full entitlement.
The islands also have limited neuro-rehabilitation facilities, specialist therapists, case managers and suitably experienced carers and support workers. When a client has suffered a life-changing injury, it is crucial they receive the best possible treatment to enable them to make as full a recovery as possible.
For Channel Islanders, this usually means arranging for them to receive initial inpatient rehabilitation in a specialist UK facility. It may also require establishing a multi-disciplinary team of therapists and carers based in the UK to deliver care and treatment at the client’s home. This can be expensive and time-consuming. With the Channel Islands having different employment laws and rules relating to the delegation of clinical tasks, this can present difficulties. So too can the supply and service of specialist disability equipment to Channel Islands residents.
The islands also have different regimes to the UK regarding the management of funds for those clients who lack the capacity to manage their financial affairs and instruct their lawyers.
Changes to the discount rate
Recently we utilised our experience working in other jurisdictions to respond to the consultation by The Guernsey Policy and Resources Committee on ‘The Personal Injury Discount Rate and Other Related Matters’. This includes potential reforms relating to fundamental aspects of this area of law, including:
- the personal injury discount rate
- implementing periodical payment orders
- recovering healthcare costs from claimants, and
- implementing a cap on damages
The proposed reforms would leave serious injury victims, whose claims are subject to Guernsey law, under-compensated, eroding the fundamental common law principle of full compensation. In its response, Stewarts highlighted that the proposed reforms would likely see a claimant’s damages run out during their lifetime. Claimants will no longer be able to cover the expenses associated with their complex injuries and will be forced to rely on the state for their ongoing needs.
“If you have suffered a life-changing injury, the choice you make in selecting the lawyer to represent you is vitally important. The cheapest option or the lawyer with an office closest to your home is seldom the best. The lawyer you instruct must have the experience and resources at their disposal to ensure you receive the best possible rehabilitation while your claim progresses and achieves the best possible settlement to ensure the damages you receive meet your life-long needs.”
Verity Boak, a case manager at Boak and Associates, says:
“Over the past decade, I have had the pleasure of working with Stewarts International Injury team supporting claimants in the Channel Islands. What stands out is their experience to overcome barriers, ensuring that the claimant has the funds available for a comprehensive rehabilitation package from the outset. This client-centred approach continues throughout the claim.”
You can find further information regarding our expertise, experience and team on our International Injury page.
If you require assistance from our team, please contact us.
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