Legal support

Specialist brain injury solicitor, Malcolm Underhill has written some advice for families on legal advice following a child's brain injury. 

If your child has suffered a brain injury, your first priority is to secure the best possible treatment to help them adapt to regular family life as soon as possible. Unfortunately, immediate access to the best healthcare is expensive, and opting for private treatment can leave parents unable to pay for ongoing therapy or specialist help as a result of the high costs involved. There are support mechanisms to assist those who have suffered neurological damage through medical negligence, violence and accidents, but the aid available varies depending on the type and severity of the injury. Getting legal support as soon as possible is vital, and the Child Brain Injury Trust’s ‘Legal Support Service’ allows you to set up an initial assessment with an accredited law specialist, which you won’t have to pay for. Because of the highly complex nature of these types of claims, medical law practitioners are highly experienced and qualified, and will be able to provide you with advice on what sort of ongoing support your child is likely to need, how much it’s likely to cost, and what kind of compensation you’ll be able to claim.

Compensation

These specialist law firms are often able to pursue compensation on your behalf on a ‘no-win, no-fee’ basis, allowing worried parents to put plans in place for future compensation without paying the legal fees of a failed case. Compensation claims have to be submitted within a certain timeframe after the accident takes place, so receiving prompt legal assistance is key to proceeding with a claim. Even if you don’t want to speak to a lawyer about it, your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau can help you understand the claims process and how to proceed. Though it can be a stressful time, pursuing financial compensation is often a necessity for parents of children with brain damage. It’s important to guarantee a high standard of care for your child in the future, which isn’t always possible without the assistance of compensation. The amount of compensation paid out for brain injuries ranges from a few thousand pounds to millions, depending on the extent of the injury and its ongoing impact. If you’re finding it hard to pay for treatment while settling your claim, it is sometimes possible to arrange for ‘interim payments’ - advance payments made once culpability has been decided, but before the final settlement is agreed.

Ongoing support

Once liability is established, it’s possible that you’ll be entitled to claim for ongoing payments towards long-term support. This could include payments to cover rehabilitation courses, major accessibility modifications to your house or car, and fees for carers. Because of the severe problems children with brain injuries can face in later life, being able to ensure their care is always provided for will be hugely beneficial. Depending on the cause of your child’s injuries you may also be entitled to Legal Aid support from the government. Legal Aid is only offered for cases of medical negligence where neurological injury occurred before, during, or within eight weeks after birth, although the damage needn’t necessarily be directly related to the birth itself. If you qualify, you’ll then be able to proceed with a claim for compensation whilst receiving a contribution towards your legal costs, but you should consult with a specialist before deciding whether or not to apply for Legal Aid. As an alternative to legal aid you may be entitled to a “no win – no fee” agreement. Malcolm Underhill is a specialist brain injury solicitor at IBB Claims.
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