St Helens council has recently been wrapped by the legal ombudsman for refusing to fund care because a local man had already received a payout from a personal injury claim. Why is it important that councils still provide care even when a citizen has been paid out in a personal injury claim? Sincere Law investigates.
Personal Injury Payouts
Any personal injury case is a battle of two sides, the client and the defendant. Often (even in simple cases) a defendant’s insurer or solicitor would look to pay as little as possible to settle a claim to minimize their losses. This means that even when a client has a strong case, we would have to still prove that the compensation being asked is enough to cover the cost of damages. Should a matter go to court, it then requires proving to a judge who can assess the situation and assign damages based on their judgement of the facts.
In the St Helens case, the client had suffered brain injuries which would impact the rest of his life. The injuries impacted his cognitive abilities and was required to rent out a flat and pay for specialist care using his compensation for 35 hours a week. The council during this period assessed him and despite being told there was a “critical risk” if care wasn’t provided for him, they ordered that the man pay for this essential care with his own money.
After being awarded the compensation, St Helens council failed to produce a care plan or assess how much towards his own care he should pay with a financial assessment.
An investigation into the matter from the legal ombudsman declared that the man may have suffered increased financial difficulty in the 2 years following his injury up to the point of the investigation. While the financial compensation was a considerably large amount, further financial complications, personal circumstances, price of care and extent of care are all subject to change following a serious injury.
When dealing with serious injury claims, a solicitor will consult a selection of professionals to assess care needs and provide a plan of action. This may often require adaption or further care should the future hold any complications. When a person needs ongoing care, the local authorities often assess that person and will provide care either for free or at a reduced cost dependant on circumstances. Sincere Law’s Head of Catastrophic Injury, Chris Walker added his thoughts based on personal experiences:
“It seems currently there is a bias by local authorities against those that have personal injury compensation. Should the man in question have not been awarded his money, would he have been forced to pay for his care himself? We feel no. Circumstances can change dramatically, especially when dealing with catastrophic injury as complications are always a risk. On this basis, we wholeheartedly agree with the ombudsman’s recommendations that no personal injury compensation should ever be taken into account when determining care costs for an individual.”