October 17, 2013
Ever heard the John Lennon lyric: 'life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans'?
As a solicitor, it is the mundane detail of 'life' that is so important when working for the catastrophically injured, to enable me to truly get to the heart of the issues faced by the individual and their family.
If the worst happens, I hope you and your family would seek legal advice and compensation from the party responsible for your injuries. But often your world will be thrown upside down; you are probably not able to return to work, you might require around the clock care or assistance to perform day to day tasks. You may have suffered a head injury
and have difficulty remembering things or find your friends and family saying you have changed.
Often an award of compensation can enable you to lead a more comfortable and fulfilling life following a catastrophic event, but support from friends and family will be needed from the start.
The human instinct to care
I recently watched an episode of Channel 4's '24 hours in A+E'
and one of the Consultants remarked how he was humbled by the human instinct to care for one another.
For most of us, if a catastrophe were to occur, our family and friends would immediately help 'hold the fort' and provide support and assistance without a second thought.
Such acts of compassion are not done with an expectation of anything in return. People help because they care.
Consider though that care may need to continue for months, years, possibly for life. It is therefore recommended that as part of any case for compensation, a claim for care is also included. Not because the person helping expects this payment, but because they should be compensated for the impact the accident has had upon their life too. Perhaps they now have to work reduced hours, or have given up work altogether to help care for a loved one. There are clear financial implications of having to take such steps and these should be accounted for.
As a solicitor practising in catastrophic injury
I often act for families who have rallied around to help an injured relative. These families inevitably adjust to their new circumstances and life becomes 'normal again', or at least a 'new normal'.
It is sometimes difficult to remember just how much life has changed after a while, as our mind is very good at 'forgetting' the hard times and focussing on the positives.
This can sometimes present its own problems when it comes to thoroughly examining a compensation claim.
Diary of events
When building a case, it is vital that we are able to illustrate just what has changed in your life after a catastrophic event, including the emotional turmoil that may have been experienced over time.
I therefore always encourage the individual affected, their family and their friends who are involved to keep a diary. It doesn't have to be detailed but just note down the day to day things that are causing worries when picking up the pieces after an accident.
It might be financial problems like a bill that needs paying, or concerns about what the future holds. The injured person might have had a particularly bad day or a suffered a setback that's made them upset or angry. Likewise you might be upset or angry. Whatever it is that triggered the reaction write it down.
We can adapt very quickly and details of the day to day challenges can be forgotten as time moves on. A diary can be invaluable in describing your new situation and in ensuring any compensation amount reflects these changes.