Head injury compensation claims – what to expect from your solicitor
A brain injury is similar to a greedy App on your mobile phone, where the more active you are, the quicker the battery drains away, until it stops. People with a brain injury experience fluctuations in their mental capacity, with periods of boom and bust, feeling fine one day, but out-of-sorts on another day.
Understandably, launching legal proceedings is probably not at the top of your ‘to do’ list as you focus on your recovery, but if you (or someone in your family) have found that life is not returning to normal then this is something you should consider.
Finding the right solicitor
It is a good idea to phone two or three solicitors to find the one you feel most comfortable with. The charity Headway has a Directory of Solicitors with experience in handling brain injury cases and who work within the Headway Personal Injury Lawyers code of conduct.
Navdip Gill, head of the Personal Injury department at Geoffrey Leaver Solicitors, says, ‘It is important to trust and get on well with your solicitor as you will be working together for a number of years, and they will be intimately connected to you and your family throughout the case.’
Do solicitors offer a home visit or video conference?
Navdip always visits potential clients with a serious brain injury in their own home for the initial meeting. ‘There is no obligation, but it means the client and their family can be more relaxed, and medical information is more likely to be easily at hand,’ says Navdip.
‘We also use video conference with clients, so you do not have to be based in the South East to use Geoffrey Leaver.’
No win no fee arrangement
You may have heard of no win no fee, but may not be sure what this means in practice. In a nutshell, you have nothing to lose as our firm takes all the risk. The initial meeting is an opportunity for our solicitor to explain exactly how this works and for you to ask any questions.
Understanding your care needs
To represent you and obtain the right compensation for your injuries, a solicitor will need to understand the impact of the accident on your body and your life.
At the first meeting we will be keen to see the discharge summary from the hospital, as this will help us to understand your condition and your ongoing care needs.
How much compensation will you receive?
This is the question asked most frequently. The amount of compensation due to you will depend upon your injuries and ongoing care needs, as well as the impact on your future career, earning capacity, and your pension.
Our experienced solicitors will need to compile detailed calculations for the court, but we will be able to give you a broad indication of the amount of money that you might receive after our first meeting.
If you instruct us to take on your case, then the first stage will be to establish liability for the accident, by showing who was at fault. We will need to meet you again to take a detailed statement regarding the accident, and then proceed to gather any evidence.
If the circumstances are straightforward then this can be achieved within three to six months, but it may take longer if the circumstances are complex and the insurer refuses to admit liability.
Calling on medical experts
Most recovery after a brain injury occurs within the first two years. So, after the second anniversary of the accident we will invite you to be examined by:
- a neurologist – who diagnoses, treats, and manages conditions affecting the brain;
- a neuropsychologist – who tests and assesses psychological problems, such as with memory, concentration and problem solving, and helps in rehabilitation; and
- a neuropsychiatrist – who will diagnose and treat any psychiatric complications arising from the brain injury.
The night before an appointment with an expert, we recommend going to bed early and arriving at least one hour before the appointment to reduce anxiety and fatigue, as some of the testing can be tiring.
How long will my case take?
Usually the whole process (from instructing your solicitor to receiving the payment) can take from four to five years for a brain injury, which it is why it is important to pick a legal team that you feel comfortable with. You will both be invested in the process, and your solicitor will be investing in obtaining expensive medical reports to give your case the best chance of success.
Navdip recalls how: ‘I was acting for a cyclist with a brain injury caused by an accident on a defective pavement, and it took us five years to establish who was at fault, and then the compensation sum was settled and agreed three weeks before a 5-day trial in the High Court. The claim is still ongoing and it will take a further 18 months to determine the value of the claim which will be seven figures’.
Sometimes, where appropriate, we can request an interim payment to cover rehabilitation costs while the court case proceeds.
This would be a payment on account, and often involves making an application to the Court. Although insurers are sometimes reluctant to pay out early, we have a good track record in this and recently succeeded in obtaining a six-figure interim payment for a client who required treatment.
Take care on social media
One word of warning – it is highly likely that your social media accounts will be accessed and followed by the insurer’s legal team. They will be looking for information to send to their medical experts about your activities, and this could impact your credibility if it is at odds with your diagnosis.
Contact us for an informal no-obligation meeting
Hopefully this blog post provides a short insight into our approach, but a meeting would give you a much better opportunity to ask questions and to see if you would feel comfortable working with us.
If you would like to arrange an initial informal no-obligation meeting, please contact Navdip Gill on 01908 689338 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a free and no obligation initial consultation.
This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.