personal injury serious injuries getting compensation Have you suffered a serious injury? Are you entitled to compensation?

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p e r s o n a l i n j u r y

Have you suffered a serious injury?

Any serious injury can be a life–changing event. Apart from the physical and emotional trauma of the accident, there are often significant financial, employment and social implications to be tackled.

Recovering compensation in a timely and efficient way can be a major step in re-building your life for the future.

Are you entitled to compensation?

Generally speaking, if your injury has been caused by the fault or negligence of someone else, you will be entitled to claim compensation.

Do not assume that you won’t get anything if you were partially to blame for the accident, or if you were injured in a criminal assault abroad, or if the other person

involved was not insured. A specialist solicitor can consider the circumstances and advise on whether a claim for compensation would be likely to succeed.

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Making contact as soon as possible

It is important that you contact a specialist solicitor as soon as possible if you think you may be entitled to claim compensation as, in most circumstances, a claim must be made within three years of the accident or injury. There are situations where claims must be started earlier. Check with us as soon as possible.

If the claim is for a child, you generally have until the child’s 21st birthday to start the claim. If the claim is for a brain injury, then a longer time period may apply. It is more effective for us to investigate your claim if we are instructed early on. This avoids the risk of missing a time limit and gives us the best opportunity to gather evidence.

Early intervention

Another important reason to see a specialist solicitor early on is that we may be able to help with rehabilitation and

specialist care. We can help to organise an Immediate Needs Assessment and may be able to arrange funding for private care.

In terms of rehabilitation and care, if funds are available we will ensure that the correct team is put in place from the outset to match your needs. We will be involved at every level, from the appointment of the right case manager, to the recruitment of a support worker, occupational therapist, physiotherapist, speech and language therapist, architect or any other professional provision that is required.

Whenever possible, we will help you get an early interim award of compensation to pay for the things you need, even if the claim is not yet finally concluded. We recognise that you will need help along the way.

What can you claim for?

If fault is established, you will be able to recover compensation for your pain and suffering, as well as any financial losses which are caused by your condition. This would include loss of earnings and pension, care and case management costs, accommodation, aids and equipment, medical costs, travel and transport costs, household costs, holidays and leisure, clothing, Court of Protection costs and other miscellaneous costs.

What state benefits are you entitled to?

You may be entitled to state benefits such as: • Disability Living Allowance

• Income Support

• Incapacity Benefit (recently replaced by Employment and Support Allowance)

• Attendance Allowance

• Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit

We can offer advice as to whether a personal injury trust, or the appointment of a Deputy, will be needed to safeguard your entitlement to state benefits and local authority care.

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What is involved in making a claim?

We recognise that the litigation process can be a daunting prospect for clients who have already suffered a life changing injury, so we make sure that everything else runs as smoothly as possible.

The first stage of any claim is to establish that someone else (the Defendant) was at fault and that their act or omission caused your injuries. This is called establishing liability and causation.

In some cases, a Defendant’s insurers will admit liability. If this happens, we can then devote our energy to establishing that the accident caused your injuries and how much compensation you should get.

If the Defendant does not admit responsibility, then it may be necessary to go to Court so that a judge can decide.

The next step is to establish how much compensation you are entitled to receive to put you, as far as financially possible, in the same position as you would have been without the injury.

Our experience ensures that the best qualified medico-legal experts who have expertise in brain and spinal cord injuries are instructed to maximise your compensation.

With catastrophic injuries, you should expect to be seen by several independent medical experts because you may have suffered multiple injuries. Each expert will assess your current and future needsfor treatment and assistance so that we can calculate the costs involved.

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getting compensation

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Brain injury

A brain injury presents challenges for the individual as well as the friends and family supporting them. These challenges are often even more complex than those presented by physical injuries.

The special circumstances arising in brain injury claims mean that it is essential that you have a solicitor who specialises in this area. Your claim will need the support of medical and health care professionals who will work closely with your solicitor to make sure that your needs are met.

If you or a relative has suffered a brain injury, you might benefit from contacting Headway, the brain injury charity. Our solicitors are actively involved in donating their time to the management committees of several branches of Headway, as well as supporting the national charity.

Victim of assault

If your injuries were suffered as a result of a criminal act by another person, then you may be entitled to make a claim to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (“CICA”). The CICA can award compensation of up to £500,000 to victims of violent crime. Even though compensation is limited, it can be a lifeline as it is usually impossible to recover compensation from the criminal who caused your injuries.

It is possible to make a claim to the CICA without a solicitor. This can work in straightforward cases but, if you have suffered a serious and complex injury, it is advisable to get specialist legal advice.

Even though the CICA will not pay your lawyer, your lawyer will almost certainly help you recover more compensation than you would otherwise – and this will more than cover the legal costs incurred.

Quite often, we are asked to step in to help clients resolve CICA claims which they have started themselves where they feel the CICA is proposing compensation that would under- compensate them. We are happy to help in these circumstances, but find it more effective if we get involved at the outset and can immediately instruct the best experts.

Fatal accidents

The death of a family member is always a devastating event. When the deceased was the bread winner with a young family, or someone with others depending on them, the impact can be financial as well as emotional.

The law provides for compensation in these circumstances if the death was caused by the negligence of another person. We have solicitors who devote all of their time to cases involving the death of a loved one. We understand what you are going through and will work with you with compassion and sensitivity. We will tackle your claim with tenacity and make sure all future financial consequences of the death are considered in your compensation.

special circumstances

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Your child is injured

Where a child has suffered a serious injury, whether it has taken place as a result of a medical accident at birth or some other accident, you will need a specialist solicitor to pursue the claim effectively.

In these circumstances, the impact will be felt, not only by the accident victim, but also their parents and siblings. We understand this.

Early intervention is the key to maximising a child’s recovery and function in adulthood.

Our considerable experience in assisting children who have suffered serious injuries means that we recognise that child injury claims need to be handled in a very different way to adult cases.

Our specialist lawyers will maximise the compensation paid to the child with the help of key professionals who can assist with appropriate rehabilitation, education, therapies, mobility aids, accommodation, support and case management.

The driver at fault for the accident was

uninsured or unidentified

Three people are injured every hour by uninsured or “hit and run” drivers.

If you have been injured in a road traffic accident where the driver wasn’t insured or is untraced, you should seek out specialist legal advice to help you with your claim to the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (the “MIB”). The MIB was established in 1946 and every car insurance company is obliged, by law, to be a member and to contribute to its funding.

The MIB operates two separate compensation schemes, one for those injured by uninsured drivers and another for those injured by untraced drivers.

The uninsured scheme is particularly complex, and for those who are not experts in the field, it is easy to fall foul of the onerous reporting requirements the MIB sets out, which can ultimately result in

the failure of the claim.

Our MIB team has, for many years, successfully handled MIB claims, and this experience will give you the peace of mind that your claim is in safe hands.

You or a family member has been paralysed

in an accident

If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal cord injury, you will be facing a life changing situation.

Compensation will help to smooth the path to your future. A specialist solicitor is the best route to ensuring maximum compensation is awarded.

Most importantly, you and your solicitor will need to establish if someone else is at fault, or partially at fault, for the injury. Even if the injured person was partially responsible for the accident, they may be entitled to a reduced percentage of a full compensation award. Any compensation at all can make a huge difference to the future, and is therefore worth pursuing. We will help right at the outset by liaising with your medical team and smooth the transition from hospital to home. As soon as appropriate, we will ask the person at fault to pay for you to have an immediate needs assessment under the Rehabilitation Code, to identify your therapy and care needs.

special circumstances

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The team’s knowledge of personal injury law and experience of

long and complex cases has been a godsend. The results the

team have achieved to date for me have been excellent and

they continue to work hard on my behalf. I think they are

excellent and would not hesitate to recommend them to

anyone with a serious injury claim.

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Breach of Statutory Duty

Failure by the Defendant to comply with a law passed by Parliament, such as the Protective Equipment Regulations Act.

Case Manager

A health professional employed to work with you to arrange appropriate accommodation, care and support, therapies, education, vehicles, etc.

Causation

The legal concept required to connect the accident or “negligence” with the damage that has resulted.

Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA)

A “no win, no fee” arrangement to provide for the costs of a legal claim.

Claimant

The person who brings the claim.

Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority

(CICA)

The government run scheme which provides compensation to the victims of violent crime.

Court of Protection

A court that has the specific task of making decisions about the property and affairs of adults and children who cannot make decisions for themselves (who lack mental capacity). The court has the power to decide whether the person has capacity and, if not, they appoint a Deputy to make decisions for the person.

www.publicguardian.gov.uk

Counsel

A barrister who will provide additional advice to you about the chances of success of the claim, prepare the legal document setting out the allegations against the Defendant, and who will represent you in court. Senior barristers are referred to as Queen’s Counsel or Q.C.’s.

Damages

A sum of money awarded by the court or agreed through a negotiated settlement as compensation to the Claimant.

Defendant

The person or organisation against whom the claim is made.

Deputy

The person appointed by the Court of Protection to manage the money and affairs of a person who cannot do this for themselves. This can be a trusted friend or family member or a professional such as a solicitor.

Disbursements

Monies that are paid out as the claim goes along to pay for items of expenditure such as expert reports, medical records, etc.

Evidence

Everything that is used to demonstrate the truth of an assertion, for example, witness statements, documents supporting the claim and expert reports.

Headway

The leading national brain injury charity that provides advice and support to those who have suffered a brain injury.

www.headway.org.uk

Immediate Needs Assessment

An assessment undertaken of the Claimant’s needs when solicitors are first instructed. This is usually a joint

instruction with the Defendants who fund it, and will identify the immediate needs you have after you leave hospital, such as accommodation and care.

Interim Payments

Compensation paid to the Claimant by the Defendant before the case is concluded, usually after the Defendant admits responsibility.

Inquest

An inquiry by the coroner’s court into the cause of death.

Liability

The responsibility for an act or omission. Failure to meet this responsibility can result in a person, group or company being liable for a claim. It is for the Claimant to prove such liability on the part of the Defendant.

Limitation

The time period after which the right to bring a claim expires. Generally this is three years, although there are shorter time periods for accidents taking place abroad, at sea or in the air. Legal advice should always be sought as soon as possible to avoid missing time limits.

Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB)

A scheme operated by the insurance industry to provide compensation to the victims of uninsured and untraced drivers.

Negligence

A failure to exercise care towards others that would reasonably be expected in the circumstances, or taking action which a reasonable person would not take.

understanding the key terms

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Patient

A term used in the Mental Capacity Act to mean someone who lacks the mental capacity to make their own decisions in relation to property, finances, healthcare, etc.

Periodical Payments

Traditionally, compensation has been paid by way of a lump sum. There is now the option for the court to consider periodical payments for part or all of an award. Instead of a one-off lump sum, the Claimant will receive an annual indexlinked sum to meet the cost of care, case management and loss of earnings for the remainder of his or her life. The Claimant can then be reassured that there will always be money available to meet their care and living costs.

Quantum

The level of damages awarded to a Claimant.

Settlement

The resolution of a claim out of court and before final court judgment.

Schedule of Loss

The document prepared by the Claimant setting out all of their financial and other losses.

Strict Liability

When a person is legally responsible for their act or omission, regardless of whether they were at fault.

Spinal Injuries Association

A leading charity providing advice and support to those who have suffered a spinal cord injury and their families.

www.spinal.co.uk

Support Worker

A carer or enabler who will assist an injured person with all activities of daily living. They can live in if required.

Trust

A personal injury trust is a legally binding arrangement in which money is held by trustees for the benefit of another, under the terms of a document called a trust deed. One benefit is that the trust can enable the injured person to continue their entitlement to means-tested benefits.

Witness

A person present at some event and able to give an account of it. If asked to attend court, they will provide sworn testimony.

understanding the key terms

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key contacts

Huw Ponting

Partner 01793 412540 hponting@thrings.com

Neil Elliott

Partner 01793 412685 nelliott@thrings.com

Louise Webberley

Partner 01793 412554 lwebberley@thrings.com

Huw specialises in representing clients who have sustained severe traumatic brain injury. He acts as a Court appointed Deputy for a number of his clients, making decisions for them when they, or their families, are unable to do so.

Louise has specialised in the field of brain and spinal cord injury litigation for the past 13 years. She is currently acting for adults and children who have sustained traumatic brain injuries. Louise also acts as a professional Deputy. Neil has over 25 years’ experience dealing with complex catastrophic injury and

high-quantum cases and is highly regarded as a leading specialist in the field of personal injury litigation. Neil also acts as a professional Deputy for many clients.

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key contacts

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Sally Drew

Associate Solicitor 01793 412531 sdrew@thrings.com

Sally specialises in high-value and complex claims, in particular those involving catastrophic brain injury. She is experienced in dealing with claimants who have been considered to lack capacity, and their families.

Kim Chamberlain

Associate Solicitor 01793 412591 kchamberlain@thrings.com

Bryony Hallows

Solicitor 01793 412508 bhallows@thrings.com

Fiona English

Solicitor 01793 412119 fenglish@thrings.com

Kim has 18 years’ litigation experience and is currently working on a wide range of high-value catastrophic personal injury claims arising from road traffic accidents, assaults, accidents at work, sporting activities and animals.

Diane specialises in complex brain injury claims and CICA maximum award cases. She is currently working on personal injury claims arising from road traffic accidents, assaults, accidents at work, sporting activities and animals.

Fiona has specific experience in multi-track claims, representing Claimants in high-quantum cases, in particular, catastrophic brain injury cases. She works closely with clients, experts, Counsel, case managers and support workers.

Bryony specialises in working on high-value and complex claims, representing clients who have sustained severe traumatic brain injury.

Diane Reading

Solicitor 01793 412552

dreading@thrings.com

L O N D O N B R I S T O L B AT H S W I N D O N

Thrings is the trading style of Thrings LLP, a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales (registered number OC342744), authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. A list of LLP members, together with others designated as partners, is displayed at its registered office: 6 Drakes Meadow, Penny Lane, Swindon SN3 3LL

Louise Neesham

Solicitor 01793 412571 lneesham@thrings.com

Louise specialises in high-value catastrophic injury claims. She is currently assisting with several multimillion pound claims, including trial preparations and settlement negotiations. Louise trained as a Registered Nurse before switching to the law.

Alexine deals with high-value catastrophic brain injury claims, public employer’s liability and Criminal Injuries Compensation claims. She has gained a rich and varied experience working directly with Counsel, clients and medical experts.

Alexin Moran

Solicitor 01793 412589 amoran@thrings.com

Anna Cole

Associate Solicitor 01793 412513 acole@thrings.com

Anna handles a variety of high-quantum brain injury cases. She is able to advise on a wide range of topics including liability, causation, road traffic accident, employer liability, public liability, and MIB claims.

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