LEGAL CORNER: Rebuilding lives in cases involving injuries which are life-altering

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In high-profile personal injury cases involving awards of more than £1m, there is often misunderstanding and/or resentment over exactly what the money is used for. “It’s like a lottery win,” people often say.

When a person’s partner, parent, child or grandparent is the victim 
of a devastating car accident, injury at work or other incident, life will never be the same for them and their loved ones.

When an injury is suffered to the brain, the person may outwardly appear ‘fine’.

Very often there will be problems with memory, concentration, planning and organising, depression, altered personality, mood swings and extreme anger, and the injured person may lack insight or be in denial as to the true nature of the problems that have created a ‘new person’.

James Cracknell, the Olympic rower, is a high-profile example of someone whose personality was dramatically altered following a brain injury when he was knocked from his bike.

He and his family have struggled with these changes but, fortunately, with help from a ‘personal assistant’ (organising his life) he remains able to make a living as a television personality.

The role of a solicitor with expertise and experience in head injury cases is crucial to lead the process of providing for the needs of their victim client.

They will engage medical and rehabilitation experts, to assess immediate needs, and also to anticipate lifelong need for care and support. Often a compensation claim will include a loss of earnings claim if the person is unable to return to work as before the accident. Losing the family’s main breadwinner causes additional, untold stress and worry for all. The home may need to be adapted if the person’s mobility is affected. How many homes are naturally wheelchair-friendly?

One learns a huge amount about the strength of human spirit from seriously-injured people; strength and courage in the face of adversity.

For most people suffering a life-altering injury, ‘compensation’ is about returning their lives to some semblance of normality, and allowing them and their families to function as near to normal as is humanly possible. Doing so can be hugely expensive. The vast majority of any compensation award exceeding £1m goes towards these costs.

Done well, rehabilitation can work wonders and literally give an injured person, and their whole family, a new lease of life.