Common causes of brain injury
Sometimes a child sustains a brain injury at birth or because of a medical reason, but a brain injury can also be the result of having an accident. There are lots of ways a child can sustain a brain injury and if the incident that caused the injury was someone else’s fault, your child might be owed compensation.
Road traffic accidents are one of the most common causes of brain injuries, due to the speeds involved. Children may be injured as passengers or pedestrians.
A child may also sustain a brain injury due to a trip or slip, such as falling down stairs in a shop or restaurant, or tripping over because of a trip hazard or a spillage. Injuries such as falls from play equipment are also common.
When should I speak to a solicitor?
If you are unsure if your child has been affected by an injury following an accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, a specialist solicitor will be able to explore your options with you. Even if the accident was caused by someone you know, like a family member, you may still be able to pursue a claim against this person’s insurer, enabling you to unlock funding for important therapies and additional support for your child.
What will happen after I appoint a solicitor?
The first thing to remember is that there are strict time limits for pursuing a personal injury claim. For adults, the general rule is that court proceedings must be started within 3 years of the date of the accident, but for children the deadline is their 21st birthday. Generally though, it’s best not to leave it too late and we would advise to speak to a solicitor as soon as you feel able to.
When you speak to a specialist solicitor, they will ask you for information about the accident and advise you whether your claim is worth pursuing and likely to be successful.
Your solicitor will then need to gather evidence about the accident. This may involve getting a police report, photos and witness statements, and visiting the scene of the accident. Details of the claim will then be submitted to the Defendant who will notify their insurers of the claim. The defendant and their insurer then have three months to investigate and decide whether they admit or deny responsibility for the accident.
One of the main advantages of making a claim is that the Defendant’s insurers can be asked to provide immediate financial help to assist with rehabilitation, irrelevant of their decision on liability. They won’t always agree to provide it, but if they do this can be a great help for people whose injuries have left them in need of care that can’t be provided by the NHS. It can also allow the appointment of a case manager who can help manage and co-ordinate any care plan, which can reduce the amount of pressure and stress on parents.
Your solicitor will also need to obtain your child’s medical records and then obtain medical evidence from independent doctors who will assess your child and prepare a report for the Court on their injuries.
Your solicitor will also need to gather information about any financial losses you have incurred and will incur in the future. There are lots of things that can be claimed for as part of a personal injury claim including:
- Loss of earnings
- Travel expenses
- Care and assistance provided by family
- Cost of medication or medical treatment
- Cost of aids/appliances/equipment
- Cost of new accommodation if your existing property is no longer suitable due to disability
Once all the medical evidence and details of financial losses have been gathered, your solicitor will be able to tell you what the value of the claim is and then try to negotiate a settlement with the Defendant.
Why do cases sometimes take a long time to conclude?
In the case of a child, any settlement reached between the parties must be approved by the Court as the Courts want to make sure that the compensation awarded will be enough to cover the child’s current needs, and any needs they are likely to develop in the future. For example, if the injury sustained is likely to affect how well a child is able to do at school, or mean they will need caring support when they become adults, it is important to make sure that the settlement will be enough to cover for all the additional needs the child will have as a result of the injury.
Sometimes cases can take a long time to progress because the court needs to allow time for the child’s brain to develop so the medical experts can confidently predict what their long-term needs are likely to be. For that reason, it is important to choose a solicitor that you feel comfortable working with for a long period of time. It is also important that your solicitor looks to secure you interim financial payments to cover your child’s immediate medical and care needs as they arise.
What happens next?
The money you will receive from a personal injury claim is awarded to cover your child’s immediate and future needs. After the compensation is awarded, it is wise to get specialist advice to manage this money so that funds are available for the rest of your child’s life. With the cost-of-living rising year by year it is important to know that no matter what happens, your loved one will be looked after.
At Enable Law we have supported families with claims following all sorts of serious accidents. Our specialist Court of Protection team will also be there every step of the way to make sure your child’s needs will be met for the rest of their lives.
Find Out More
We caught up with Tim Jones, Legal Director at Enable Law, about acquired brain injury and litigation.