It’s always traumatic when you or someone you love is involved in an accident, but when that accident is not their fault and they suffer an injury as a consequence, the emotional impact can be severe and long-lasting. Any injury to the brain can have devastating consequences which have an impact on the person for the rest of their lives, and it’s only right that when someone suffers an injury to their brain through no fault of their own, that they are entitled to compensation.
What is a brain injury?
Brain injuries can range from the very mild to the much more serious. A minor blow to the head on a rugby pitch which causes mild concussion that gets better by itself in a few days is a brain injury, as is being involved in a motorcycle accident which causes injuries so severe that the person requires 24 hour nursing care for the rest of their life. Obviously the amounts of compensation amounts will increase depending on the severity of the injury and the potential ongoing impact. It is also worth pointing out that not all people who suffer a brain injury can automatically apply for compensation; it has to be proved that someone else is at fault, and that you have either been in pain or suffering as a result, or have lost out financially. If you are unsure about whether your situation fit the criteria, speak to a solicitor about your circumstances.
Effects of Brain Injury
Many mild knocks to the head get better by themselves, and many other people who have suffered a brain injury adapt to their new circumstances and manage to live a very normal life. There are however many symptoms of brain injury which can often be more subtle, and which can affect sufferers for many months or years. These can include:
- Changes in behaviour or temperament
- Memory problems
- Problems with planning, organising and lateral thinking
People who suffer a more serious brain injury can struggle with daily living tasks and personal care, and as a consequence of their injury may no longer be able to work or drive. Children who suffer a brain injury through medical negligence at birth may have lifelong learning disabilities as well as physical limitations.
Claiming for Brain Injury Compensation
In order to put in a successful claim for compensation after a brain injury, you have to prove that someone else caused the accident through their actions or negligence. Sometimes this is very obvious and simple, such as in a road traffic accident where the other party is clearly liable. Not all cases are so clear cut though, and often the onus will be on the claimant to prove the accident was down to someone else. This is where the skills of your solicitor really are worth their weight in gold, and so it’s essential to work with someone know really knows what they are doing and who knows the compensation process inside out. They should also be able to realistically manage your expectations about both the timescales involved the sums of compensation you might be able to achieve.
The Compensation Claims Process
The law sets strict deadlines on making compensation claims. You have either three years from the date of the injury or three years from the date you became aware you had suffered an injury, whichever is later. This may sound like a long time, but when you consider that you could spend time in hospital and then many months recuperating, the time passes quickly. The golden rule is always to seek legal advice as soon as you can, and if you are unable to do so, ask a family member to act on your behalf. There are different rules which apply to brain injuries which happen when someone is under the age of 18, so if this applies in your case, seek legal advice on you particular case. After you have started the ball rolling by speaking to your solicitor, they will get to work building your case by gathering evidence like medical reports and any police or crime reports, and details of any expenses you have incurred or are likely to have in the future. The process of negotiation will then begin between your legal team and the opposition. There are generally a few offers and counter offers made before a mutually acceptable compensation level is reached. Most brain injury compensation cases are sorted out between the lawyers, so the chances are that you will never have to step inside the court room.
Average Compensation Payouts for Brain Injury Compensation
The amount of compensation which is appropriate in your case will depend on the severity of the injury and the ongoing impact on your daily life. Any figures given should be treated as very rough guidelines and you will only get an accurate picture by getting advice from a lawyer. A minor brain injury which gets better on its own in a few weeks and has no ongoing impact on your life may mean compensation of around £1500, and a more serious injury which leaves you with a disability or severe ongoing medical issues can mean a payout of up to a third of a million pounds. Although most brain injury compensation cases are managed on a no win, no fee basis, you will have to pay a success fee to your solicitor if they win the case for you. This is expressed as a percentage of your compensation awarded, and is capped at 25% of the compensation.
Brain Injury Compensation – Key Points
When thinking about making a claim for brain injury compensation, remember these key points:
- An individual or organisation has to be responsible for your injury and it must not be your fault
- You have three years to start the claims process
- No win no fee means you are not exposed to financial risk when making a claim
- Compensation amounts vary hugely so get expert advice on what might apply in your case
- The guidance and assistance of an experienced solicitor is essential so make your choice carefully.