Our prime concern, as personal injury lawyers, is the wellbeing and quality of life of our injured clients and their families. An important aspect of this is empowering those with a life-changing injury to feel in charge of their own journey to rebuilding their lives through rehabilitation and with other professional help. We use the legal process, wherever possible, to secure funding from the negligent party’s insurance company to cover all reasonable needs and losses.
There is a saying that carers should be carers, and family be family. The law recognises the right of an injured person or their family to choose whether care, help and support is best provided by loved ones or by paid carers, support workers and personal assistants. For those whose lives have been turned upside-down, it is not appropriate to feel dictated to about what should best be done to maximise their quality of life. The purpose of personal injury compensation is, as far as possible, to put the injured person and their family in the same position as if the injury had not occurred.
In cases involving life-changing injury, it is vitally important to recognise and quantify all the care and help that has been provided and that will be or may be required in the future. Care costs can be an extremely valuable part of personal injury compensation. Unpaid help provided by loved ones and friends is termed gratuitous care, and can be recovered at an hourly rate of £6-£8, or by reference to loss of earnings.[cta]
In order to value care and assistance properly, the key question to ask is: What is required to meet reasonable needs for life? In respect of paid professional help, there is no need to opt for the least-cost option – provided it can be shown that the proposed care is reasonable, it does not matter that there may be cheaper alternatives.
When judges award compensation for care, they approach matters on the basis that quality of life is key; they tend to regard as reasonable an injured person’s desire to lead as normal a life as possible and to preserve an individual’s freedom of choice and autonomy. It is unreasonable to deprive someone of the ability to do things or go places. Judges understand that merely providing enough to survive is not enough. Judges tend to be sympathetic and understanding in cases of genuine need.
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