Serious injury lawyer stresses importance of rehab specialists to help maximise compensation

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Serious injury lawyer stresses importance of rehab specialists to help maximise compensation

6th March 2012

A lawyer who specialises in serious injury cases has stressed the importance of ensuring case managers and rehabilitation specialists are involved in the claims process as early as possible to help maximise compensation for victims, particularly when dealing with acquired brain injury cases.

Matthew Clayton, a partner with Fentons Solicitors LLP, was speaking following a recent case in which £2.2 million in compensation was secured for a young man injured in an accident.

“The claimant was hit by a bus as he was crossing a road, sustaining a very significant head injury as a consequence,” said Matthew. “He required emergency life-saving surgery in the form of a frontal lobectomy and a sub-total temporal lobectomy. Following eight weeks’ in-patient treatment he was transferred to a rehabilitation unit, from which he was ultimately discharged into his present accommodation.”

Mr Clayton said that whilst his client’s physical difficulties were obviously severe, they were overshadowed by his cognitive problems. “His head injury led to widespread diffused damage to the brain structures,” he said. “He was left with significant deficits in his cognitive functioning and now suffers from severe short-term memory problems and requires someone to prompt him.”

Although the client has some insight into his disabilities, he is unfortunately incapable of wholly independent living. “He requires assistance with many domestic chores including cleaning, cooking and laundry and shopping. He requires a ‘buddy/support’ to enable him to plan and undertake activities, to travel safely and to engage in leisure and other pastimes,” said Mr Clayton.

The client will never return to any form of work, whether remunerative or therapeutic, and the medical consensus is that his ability to manage his financial affairs has been significantly compromised. The Claimant’s own medical experts also stated that he lacked the capacity to conduct litigation as to quantum and so a litigation friend was identified to act on his behalf.

“I immediately contacted a case manager and rehabilitation specialists, to assess and assist in drawing up list of my client’s immediate needs,” said Mr Clayton. “We could then illustrate the expenses he would incur in order to achieve the best results in his recovery and to try to place him in the position as if this accident had not occurred.”

Negotiating the serious injury settlement
The defendant in the case only admitted liability when both parties were at the courtroom door, awaiting the beginning of a trial on the accident circumstances. Following the admission, Mr Clayton negotiated the final settlement and the matter was referred to a High Court Judge for an approval hearing.

“It was only possible for a substantial interim payment to be secured once the issue of liability had been resolved and the defendant had accepted responsibility for the accident,” said Mr Clayton. “By securing the interim payment and engaging the services of the case manager, she was able to gradually set up a regime of care from a support worker ‘buddy.’ This meant that as the case progressed, we were able to establish a system of care that was providing the best results for my client. Crucially, it also armed us with the evidence to demonstrate to the Court that this level of care was working and therefore it was important that this system be maintained in the future.”

Mr Clayton said that as part of the £2.2 million approved settlement, £1,000,000 had been attributed to future care and rehabilitation costs.

“We stress to our clients that future care costs for someone who has suffered such catastrophic injuries make up the largest proportion of any settlement,” said Mr Clayton. “What this man’s case clearly demonstrates is that securing the best care management and rehabilitative care was crucial both in the short-term as the case progressed to trial, and also when ultimately we were able to ensure that whatever the long-term effects of his brain injury are, he will be able to fund the necessary care, treatment and therapy to help him adapt and improve the quality of his life.

“My client’s recovery was hampered by the insurers’ response to the accident circumstances,” said Mr Clayton. “It was only when facing a full trial in front of a Judge that they eventually admitted liability, which in turn allowed for a substantial interim payment to be paid to the Claimant and his family to help fund the support and help he needed.

“From the perspective of defendant’s insurers, they have the best prospects of a better recovery for an injured person if they can provide an early admission of liability in a case and allow funds - for such a Case Management package, rehabilitation and support - to be put in place as early as possible. This may in turn help to reduce their eventual liability in compensation.”