Calculating the right compensation is a specialist skill that good law firms need if they are to attract new clients. Those that advertise the ability to settle claims in a matter of weeks may not be in the best interests of their clients. I can see why that would be an attractive and satisfactory outcome for some people and that might be entirely appropriate if the claimant had suffered only minor injuries with no long term problems to deal with.
However, each case needs to be considered on its individual circumstances because a very different approach is needed if the claimant is, for example, aged 10 years old and has suffered a serious head injury. Each year, over a million people suffer a head injury that requires them to visit a casualty department; many of these are caused by road traffic accidents, falls and accidents at home or at work. Head injuries can range from very minor such as concussion, cuts and bruises, to the most serious injuries such as long-term brain damage.
Brain injuries are often the most serious because they are life changing events and the consequences are devastating not only for the victim but for their family. The impact of a brain injury on a young child is notoriously difficult to assess and it is well known that the injured victim might well have reached adulthood before a final assessment of their needs can be made. It is for this reason that a very careful assessment should to be made from the outset to establish what the needs of that child are going to be and what the cost of such treatment will be over their lifetime. The medical care might require a multi-disciplinary approach and finding the right specialist, in the right part of the country, needs careful consideration and advice. Apart from the obvious medical care other factors must be taken into account including the victim’s domestic situation. Alterations might be necessary at home to allow for wheelchair access, specialist community care might be needed or a motability vehicle purchased for the parents to convey the child to and from hospital. As the child gets older parents will also need to consider their educational needs which could be complex and costly.
Whilst the family is trying to come to terms with these major changes they might also have the additional pressure to accept an offer of settlement from the defendant’s insurance company which may be wholly inadequate to cover the costs of this long-term care. The claimant’s lawyers would be seeking from the defendant’s insurance company what are known as interim payments to enable this care package to be set up whilst allowing time to accurately calculate what the real financial needs are for the child over their lifetime. These are very complex issues and therefore settling the claim quickly may not be in the best interests of the child.
The effects on a victim and their family suffering an injury of this magnitude cannot be overstated. The tactics of some insurance companies in trying to settle a claim quickly underlines the importance of specialist legal representation without which families are effectively denied the justice to which they are entitled.