In the Winter/Spring 2023 edition of Healthy Child with Dr Ranj Singh, published online and in print by Celebrity Angels, Personal Injury partner Clare Salmon provides advice to parents in the instance of a child sustaining a life-changing injury.
Clare notes that engaging a specialist solicitor can be “the last thing on your mind… but it can make all the difference.” The article is reproduced below, and available online as an advertisement feature in Healthy Child magazine.
“Much-needed support and reassurance”
It is difficult to image what it must be like to have your life thrown into utter chaos, but that is what happens when your child sustains a devastating, life-changing injury.
Parents immediately find themselves in an unfamiliar hospital environment with confusing medical terminology to try to understand as their child receives the vital care needed. I have met many parents in this situation and all they want is time to be able to focus on their child, hoping and praying for the best possible recovery.
During this hugely emotional time, engaging a specialist solicitor can provide much-needed support and reassurance for the whole family. It can offer valuable time for parents to focus on their child, whilst an expert legal team investigates whether access to early interim payments and rehabilitation funding can be obtained for the child’s needs as part of a potential compensation claim.
The mother of one of my young clients has spoken about her own experience, after a car collided with her daughter on the pavement:
“At the time of my daughter’s serious injury it was the last thing on my mind to think about instructing a solicitor to help start an insurance claim to cover the costs of intensive rehabilitation and care, I didn’t even know it was an option. Thanks to the investigating police officer, we looked into it early on and I am so glad we did! Having access to funds to help with an intensive rehabilitation program at home has made all the difference to my daughter’s recovery.”
Parents often have immediate and pressing financial concerns if they are unable to return to work. They may be living in or near the hospital, and still need to make sure bills are paid. Interim payments can help to alleviate these financial worries and provide some breathing space. These payments, often running to several thousands of pounds or even sometimes into the millions for rehabilitation costs, can be crucial to give the child the best opportunity to maximise their rehabilitation potential.
Interim payments and rehabilitation
If there is a potential compensation insurance claim, it is very common for the insurers to agree to interim payments to help support the family whilst the injured child is in hospital. They can also help cover additional private rehabilitation costs including for therapies, care, equipment and potentially adaptations to the family home or alternative rental properties if the family’s previous home is now unsuitable for the child.
The family would get access to a privately appointed specialist Case Manager who prepares an Immediate Needs Assessment, considering everything the injured person and their family needs for their rehab. The Case Manager can also help the family understand the medical and legal process with all its unusual terminology, and advocate for the family with the medical team and statutory services or private rehab team going forwards.
Financial compensation can never change what has happened, but it can help to maximise the injured child’s potential. In most cases, the earlier the correct intensive rehabilitation is received, the better the outcome.
The NHS is rightly praised for their skill and compassion, particularly for acute medical treatment, but it is well documented that the resources for rehabilitation services in the community after hospital discharge are stretched. If additional private funding can be accessed through a compensation claim, it can only be of benefit to the rehabilitation potential of the child.
The mother of my young client adds:
“With the help of Stewarts, my daughter has a full rehab team including a brain injury case manager and a number of independent therapists that she sees on a weekly basis. Her recovery thus far has been astonishing. It is not just the individual therapists that make a difference, but the expertise we have access to through the team that supports her. They have been able to suggest ideas to enhance her rehabilitation that I would never have known about.
“In addition to the therapy she receives, the legal team were also able to look at our home environment. We were able to secure alternative accommodation more suited to supporting her than our previous home. This has all been life changing and a huge support and relief for us.”
Assess your options
When instructing a specialist solicitor, it is important to understand their expertise in dealing with catastrophic injury claims, specifically the type of injury sustained by your child. Make sure you find out how many cases they deal with on a day-to-day basis, as well as their specialist qualifications, memberships and links to organisations such as Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL). There are also specialist legal directories that provide law firm rankings for this work in different parts of the country. Try to find out level of compensation settlements the firm achieves and the size of interim payments they have obtained for clients.
You should be aware of what funding options a solicitor has available, including conditional fee agreements (CFA) commonly known as ‘no win, no fee’ agreements. Most of all, you need to feel confident and reassured that you could develop a rapport with the person you wish to instruct, as these claims can often take a number of years to resolve.
My client’s mother says:
“Three years on from my daughter’s injury there is still a long way to go as she thankfully has not plateaued yet. We will continue to strive for her to enjoy the best quality of life possible, which would not have been possible without our legal claim securing access to private funding of several millions of pounds.”
Seeking legal advice is understandably the last thing on any parents’ mind when their child suffers a devastating, life-changing injury – but it is undoubtedly something to consider.
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