When someone suffers a major trauma injury the long term impact on their life can be immense. In addition to hospital treatment and rehabilitation, their injuries may mean that their current home is no longer suitable for their needs – they may need adaptions to their current home or to live in an entirely different property suited to their needs, perhaps a larger property or single level accommodation.
Accommodation adaptations after major trauma injury
If the need for adaptations or the purchase of a new property arises as a direct result of their injury, this may be able to be included in a claim for personal injury. However a difficulty arises when claiming accommodation costs in that whilst it is necessary to ensure that the injured person can live in suitable accommodation for the rest of their life, it must be provided in a fair way ensuring the person is not over compensated. Simply put, property is an asset which usually increases in value over time, if the new property is higher in value than the existing property, simply providing the additional capital cost of the property would over compensate the injured person as their estate would benefit from the increased value of the property on their death.
Until October 2020, a calculation was applied to accommodation claims whereby the injured person was essentially compensated by reference to the interest cost of a loan to fund the additional purchase price, with that interest calculated by reference to something called the ‘discount rate’. This calculation effectively has left claimants in recent years unable to recover the full cost associated with the new home they need as a direct result of the injuries sustained.
A new approach
However this was recently challenged in the Courts in the case of Swift v Carpenter. This has provided a legal solution to the problem which, whilst far from perfect, is a better solution for those injured than it was before.
In this case, it was decided that the injured person should receive the additional capital cost of purchasing the property required to meet all their needs and then deducting from this a sum for what is called the reversionary interest. This is a sum calculated on the basis of a cautious interest rate which takes into account future house prices, economic factors and the injured person’s life expectancy.
It is important to recognise that this is certain to mean that the injured person will still not receive the full additional capital cost needed to purchase a new property. However, if the injured person has a long life expectancy they will receive a significant proportion of it.
There are some exceptions to the rule and these mainly relate to cases where the injured person has a shorter life expectancy, or where they are likely to achieve a windfall before the end of their life for example by downsizing or moving in with family.
Accommodation needs should be considered when discussing a claim for major trauma
When instructing a lawyer to bring a claim for major trauma, they will at a very early stage need to discuss with the injured person their future accommodation needs. This discussion should include family as often the family will be involved in the individual’s care.
Accommodation needs are closely linked to other needs so with the right advice and asking the right questions an injured person should be able to secure suitable accommodation to allow them the best chance to live the best possible life after major trauma injury.
How Major Trauma Group can help
The Major Trauma Group is a collective of experienced legal and health professionals, supporting people who have suffered major trauma as a result of an accident caused by the negligence of another party.
All of our personal injury solicitors focus on early access to holistic rehabilitation, improving outcomes and quality of life with a collaborative and supportive approach to each client’s individual needs.
To work with a specialist solicitor experienced in the complexities of major trauma and with the local knowledge you will require, get in touch via telephone, email or post.
For our postal address see our Contact Us page.