If you or a loved one suffer a major trauma as a result of an accident you may be entitled to claim compensation. Your personal injury compensation claim is intended to help you rebuild your life as quickly as possible and, as part of your claim, we ensure you have access to legal services, welfare and benefits advice, education and employment services that will assist you on your rehabilitation journey.
Access to the right type of rehabilitation and practical support at this stage is important to your physical and mental wellbeing. There could be many different ways in which you have suffered a major trauma:
- A car, motorcycle or cycling accident;
- An accident at work;
- An injury caused in a public place;
- An assault.
The injuries that you suffer as a result of accidents can be wide ranging and varied in severity and complexity. Your injuries may result in amputation, burns, crushes, head or brain injury, injury to internal organs, spinal or spinal cord injury, psychological injury, or multiple broken bones, known as complex musculoskeletal injury, sometimes abbreviated to “MSK”.
Instructing a specialist major trauma solicitor ensures you receive expert advice on how to cope with the impact of your accident and what practical and financial assistance you will need to rebuild your life, giving valuable support to you and your family to reduce stress.
What is a personal injury claim?
You can make a claim for personal injury compensation if you have suffered major trauma after an accident that was not your fault. The claim is generally made against the insurer of the party at fault for the negligence. If they do not have any insurance the claim is made directly against the party if they have the financial means.
In the case of road traffic accidents where the party at fault is either uninsured or cannot be traced for example, in hit and run cases, claims are brought against the Motor Insurers Bureau (“MIB”).
If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of a criminal act, for example an assault, claims are brought against the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (“CICA”).
What is major trauma?
Major trauma is one serious injury or multiple serious injuries which have the potential to cause death or long-term disability.
We commonly see major trauma injuries such as:
- Head injuries, including skull fractures or haematoma’s, commonly known as brain bleeds;
- Traumatic brain injuries;
- Spinal cord injuries;
- Spinal fractures;
- Traumatic amputations;
- Crush injuries;
- Stab wounds;
- Facial trauma;
- Multiple broken bones;
- Degloving injuries;
- Musculoskeletal injuries;
- Internal injuries such as collapsed lungs, pneumothorax or diaphragmatic rupture.
What can I claim for in a personal injury claim?
The compensation award, referred to as “damages”, falls into two main categories:
These cover pain, suffering and the loss of amenity that you have suffered. This is worked out from the type of injuries you have suffered and the severity of them, including the impact they have on your day-to-day life.
These cover past and future financial losses and expenses that you have had as a direct consequence of your injuries.
Special damages can include:
- Travel expenses – you can claim all reasonable travel costs that are related to your accident including to and from medical appointments etc. Make sure to keep a note of all appointments and transport you used, as well as any mileage, if you drive, and parking charges;
- Medical treatment – any medical treatment or prescription charges, including over the counter medication costs, will be reimbursed so it is important to keep your receipts wherever possible. You can also recover the cost of private medical treatment, rehabilitation, therapy and operative procedures;
- Damaged personal items – you can recover the cost of any personal items that were damaged in the accident, such as clothing, spectacles, jewellery, etc;
- Loss of earnings – if you are unable to return to work, or you can only return to work in a lesser role or on shorter hours than before your accident, you can make a claim for loss of earnings from the date of the accident until your normal retirement age;
- On-going care and assistance – if you require help with your ongoing care such as personal care, shopping, housework, etc, you can make a claim to recover those costs;
- Loss of services – if you can no longer engage in everyday tasks, such as DIY, gardening, decorating, etc and are reliant on friends or paying professionals, you may be able to recover those costs;
- Housing – depending on the severity of your injuries, it might be the case that your home is no longer suitable for you to live in. If you need to move to more suitable accommodation or adapt your current home to suit your new needs, you can recover those costs;
- Transport – if you can no longer drive due to your injuries, or you need to purchase an adapted car due to your disability, you may be able to recover those costs. Your support team can also help you identify the right vehicle should you need to travel with a wheelchair and/or other equipment;
- Aids and equipment – there could be any number of mobility aids and equipment that you require during your rehabilitation and beyond. Your support team can help you gain expert advice and insight on different aids and equipment, as early as possible in your recovery, to ensure you are fully prepared for the journey ahead and that your future compensation covers the cost of these aids and equipment, the cost of replacement and insurance.
Why should I make a claim for personal injury compensation?
You should make a claim for personal injury compensation to help you rebuild your life after suffering a major trauma. It will assist should you have to pay for any future losses linked to your injuries, your ongoing needs and set you up to maximise your life despite a life-changing event. It will also ensure that your medical and rehabilitation treatment costs are paid for by the party responsible for your accident to relieve the burden on the NHS.
Most people who have undergone a major trauma will have been treated at a Major Trauma Centre which is funded by the NHS. The specialists, nurses and support staff within the Major Trauma Centres provide an excellent level of care and support. This incredible work is all funded by the NHS.
It is the view of the Major Trauma Group that in situations where people have been injured due to the negligence of another and where there is insurance in place in relation to that negligence that the insurance companies should meet the cost of that rehabilitation. This would relieve some of the pressure on the NHS and enable the NHS to reallocate that vital funding elsewhere. There is a mechanism in place to enable the NHS to recover some of its expenditure in these circumstances. This is known as the NHS Injury Cost Recovery Scheme. It is however the case that the NHS is limited under this scheme as to the circumstances in which it can seek to recover costs from insurance companies and the amount which the NHS is allowed to recover is capped at an amount well below the actual costs that are incurred.
It has been estimated that the difference between the amount which the insurance industry are required to pay per patient and the true cost of treating these patients is in excess of £400 million per year.
When should I make a claim for personal injury compensation?
It is important to make a personal injury claim as soon as possible after you have suffered your accident. This way, your legal team can gather as much evidence as possible about the circumstances of the accident and the injuries and losses you have suffered.
In most cases, you have 3 years from the date of your accident in which to make a claim. However, if the accident involves a child the 3-year period begins on their 18th birthday. If the person involved has suffered a brain injury and loss of mental capacity, referred to as a Protected Party, there is no time limit on when a personal injury claim can be made, unless mental capacity is regained, at which point the 3-year period begins. Different time limits also apply for claims to the Criminal injuries Compensation Authority if your injury is as a result of a violent assault or an accident abroad, where the limit is 2 years.
How long will my personal injury claim take?
Cases involving major trauma and life-changing injuries can take an average of 3 to 4 years, but this period can be longer, for example for children or where there is a dispute over who is at fault for the accident or the amount of compensation claimed.
How do I fund a personal injury claim?
Most of the work carried out on your behalf tends to be funded through a Conditional Fee Agreement often called a “CFA” or “no win, no fee agreement” but there are other funding options available which your solicitor will discuss with you.
Who should I instruct if I have suffered a major trauma?
It is vital that you have the right legal support by your side should you wish to pursue a personal injury claim for compensation after suffering a major trauma. Specialist solicitors should be familiar with the Rehabilitation Code and Serious Injury Guide and be focused on getting early funding for treatment and rehabilitation, and ongoing financial support for you and your family to reduce the stress caused and help you to rebuild your life.
Major Trauma Group members are specialist in utilising the Rehabilitation code as part of the personal injury claims process. The Code provides for an assessment in respect of physical, physiological, social and vocational needs and subsequent funding for treatment and support. It may also be possible to secure interim payments to alleviate financial hardship.
What other help can I get if I have suffered from a personal injury?
If you have suffered a major trauma you are likely to have ongoing rehabilitation and treatment needs after you have been discharged from hospital, these may include:
- Occupational therapy;
- Psychological treatment;
- Speech and language therapy.
These treatments are designed to maximise your recovery and help you to regain your mobility and independence whilst improving your psychological wellbeing. It is important that you can come to terms with your disability and adapt to a new way of life.
In complex claims, early legal support is important because it can result in access to treatment and rehabilitation which can help improve your recovery outcome, minimise the impact of the injury on your life, help you to plan your future and, where possible, return to work or education.
Funding for rehabilitation can be obtained from the insurer of the party responsible for your accident either via a Rehabilitation Code payment or by way of interim payments.
Where can I get further help and advice?
You and your family are also likely to need advice on a wide range of legal issues that may arise in the aftermath of a major trauma because of the impact it has on home and work life, family life, day to day activities and independence. You may need advice on employment issues, housing, welfare benefits, wills and probate or family issues. We can offer practical advice and help with financial matters and address concerns if you cannot work or have any financial concerns by way of obtaining interim payments.
If you would like our help with making a personal injury claim or legal advice please get in touch.