There is a lot of focus in the media about compensation claims and in particular the amount that an individual receives following an accident. Not many people realise that arranging rehabilitation is one of the most important parts of a personal injury solicitor’s role.
What is rehabilitation?
Rehabilitation can consist of any number of types of treatment including physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, counselling and speech therapy to name just a few.
Why is rehabilitation important?
The aim of rehabilitation is to ensure that the injured claimant receives the most appropriate treatment at the earliest opportunity.
In the majority of cases, particularly in serious injury cases involving amputation, burns, brain or spinal injury, it can be argued that rehabilitation is more important than claiming compensation.
Even in a relatively minor injury claim, organising a course of physiotherapy over a few months will be crucial in ensuring that the individual makes a quick and full recovery.
What are the responsibilities of the person making a personal injury claim?
Anyone making a personal injury claim is under a duty to mitigate, or reduce, their losses following an accident. This includes limiting their financial losses as far as possible, for example returning to work (even if this is part time). Mitigation is also crucial in terms of reducing the length of recovery by obtaining treatment as soon as practicable.
As a result, whilst an individual might want to initiate a personal injury claim, it is important that in the very first instance treatment is sought from a GP and the correct referrals are made to specialists.
Individuals can also pay for treatment on a private basis and then try to recover the cost of it from the defendant at the end of the claim. There is always a risk though with this approach as the claim may not be successful or the defendant may try to argue that the treatment was not necessary. In addition, claims can take years to settle. As a result, there may be a delay in recovering the cost of the treatment, which depending on the claimant’s financial situation may or may not be a problem.
Whilst treatment can be organised through a claim, it often takes time to obtain funding and to select and agree appropriate experts. It is important that an individual is fully engaged and makes every effort to organise treatment themselves.
Can treatment be arranged as part of the claim?
If liability is admitted by a defendant, an interim payment can be obtained which can be used to fund private treatment before a case settles. This could be in the UK or abroad.
There may be individuals who have had an accident in the UK and are therefore bringing a case in the UK, but then move abroad whilst the claim is ongoing. It may therefore be necessary to arrange treatment abroad. In a case like this, it is important to explain the situation to the defendant and to ensure that funding is secured. It will be just as important to obtain quotations for the proposed treatment so that the defendant can authorise the cost of it. Following the treatment, invoices will also need to be obtained which need to be sent to the defendant.
Rehabilitation Code 2015
In more serious cases, where compensation is valued over £25,000, the Rehabilitation Code is used. This operates independently to the case and where a claim is ultimately not successful the compensator does not recover the cost of the treatment. The claimant’s solicitor works together with the compensator to arrange funding for treatment to ensure that there is an early intervention. An Immediate Needs Assessment is arranged where often the claimant is visited at home by an expert and a rehabilitation program is put in place in order to facilitate their recovery.
Often in serious injury cases, an injured person may choose to stay with a family or friends abroad during their recovery. Particularly, if they are not originally from the UK, many injured people prefer to return home whilst they are recovering. As stated above, treatment can be obtained abroad but it is important that the compensator is informed and a collaborative approach is taken.
One point to consider is the cost of travel and expenses abroad. This is often a contentious area with individuals arguing that it should form part of the claim. Defendants will try to argue that cost of travel should not be included, especially if the same treatment can be found in the UK. This should be considered alongside the cost of the treatment, which can sometimes be cheaper abroad.
It is in the interests of all parties; both the claimant’s solicitor, the compensator and especially the injured individual that treatment is organised as quickly as possible, whether this is in the UK or abroad. The ultimate aim to ensure a speedy recovery and where possible get people back to work or school as soon as possible. By arranging treatment early, the individual should make a quicker recovery which should reduce the compensator’s outlay and the length of the claim. It is important that your solicitor works together with the compensator to obtain funding and to facilitate treatment.