Accidents happen but when they involve catastrophic injury then the incident is life changing for those involved. No injuries are good but those of a catastrophic nature are in a class of their own. These are the type of injuries that due to their impact completely change how you are able to live your life on a day-to-day basis. Their impact is more than medical; there will also be social and financial implications.
The types of injury that are most often catastrophic are those that impact the brain or spine resulting in lasting disability, reduced quality of life or a significant reduction in lifespan. Other common outcomes from injuries in this class include paralysis, loss of sight or hearing, chronic pain and loss of limbs.
A catastrophic injury is an entirely different area to serious personal injury; the latter, while impacting daily life, may not do so in such a protracted or life-altering manner.
By their very nature accidents are unexpected and can occur anywhere. However, for those causing major, life-changing injuries then there are certain areas of activity in both work and leisure that are more likely to be the location.
Road accidents are high on the list. Given the 356.5 billion vehicle miles driven in the UK in 2019, this is not surprising.
Around 31, 0000 people were killed or were seriously injured on the roads in 2019 taking account of figures adjusted for underreporting. While there are higher figures for those driving or riding in cars this is not surprising as they make up the bulk of road traffic users. Cyclists and motorbike riders have a higher casualty rate and are at a higher risk than those using other vehicles based on passenger miles.
The workplace is another key location. Some work environments are more prone to hazard than others. For example, agriculture, construction and manufacturing have high rates of fatal and non-fatal accidents. They are users of heavy machinery, potentially toxic substances and may involve work at heights. Despite the responsibility of the employer to provide a safe working environment injuries do occur either through negligence or oversight.
While generally participation in sports is considered to be a healthy form of exercise depending on the activity it may prove to be less beneficial than you might have hoped for. Among the sports which more frequently result in legal enquiries are motor racing, horse riding, skiing, and rugby.
Activities that involve heights, often extreme sports such as skydiving, also result in increased injury rates.
Medical negligence may also lead to a life-changing injury whether the surgery is cosmetic, elective or emergency.
Making a claim for a catastrophic injury is intended to compensate for the loss of health, earnings and quality of life. When the claim is made you’ll need to get it right to ensure that what you are seeking in the settlement will cover the rest of your life. This is why consulting an expert, like a solicitor with a specialism in personal injury, to help you understand the different aspects that need consideration is vital.
Firstly think about how serious the injuries are and how they will impact you and your family. Consider the effect that the injury has on daily life now and how this will manifest in the future. You may require specialist equipment to help you carry out tasks as a result of your injury. For example, visual impairment may require screen reading software or a refreshable Braille display to make using a computer at all possible. Loss of lower body functions will likely require a series of wheelchairs as well as modifications to your living space.
Also, consider if you will need ongoing support or a carer to help carry out basic functions. Reductions in independence and mobility for the individual concerned are not uncommon. Your condition may worsen over time requiring additional support. Another factor to account for is the potential rise in the cost of support and care services over time. As an example, care home fees have been rising above inflation for the last decade. Nursing care saw a 4.3% increase between 2018 and 2019.
Look at how the accident has changed your ability to work. A catastrophic injury may not just alter the course of your working life but put an end to it altogether and you should look at being compensated for the loss of earnings.
A catastrophic injury in many cases will be one that leaves you unable to return to your job and usual life. Seeking medical attention is naturally the first call but there’s another action you should be taking alongside this or requesting help with. Recording your memories of events around the accidents and after will be a great help when presenting your case. Make notes of dates, times, locations and who was present. Write down what was said in conversations and keep all documents relating to the matter.
These records will be useful when taking your second action. This should be to seek support from a solicitor, ideally one who has experience and expertise with life-changing injuries. Romain Coleman has specialists in a number of different areas to provide the best support and catastrophic injuries are one of these areas. This professional will be there to ensure that you receive the compensation you are entitled to. The sooner you seek legal representation the sooner the claim for the support you require can begin to be progressed.
Your records will be even more useful if the full nature of your injury isn’t immediately apparent. It may even be a few months before it becomes clear that the pain you’re experiencing and difficulties with going about your daily routine is a result of the accident.
Your solicitor will begin to work with you on moving your claim forward, using medical evidence and your care plan to direct the compensation claim.
What’s important is that you seek legal help. At Romain Coleman, the focus is on making the law accessible and understandable and helping you as an individual. Accidents do happen but they happen to people. And supporting people is one of the things that we are here for.