Personal injury lawyer, Elizabeth Duncan, looks at the Rehabilitation Code
For the vast majority of our clients who have been injured through no fault of their own, the most important thing is not the compensation, but recovering from the effects of their injuries as fully and quickly as possible.
Fortunately the Rehabilitation Code exists to help further that aim.
Rehabilitation is obviously important to the injured person who will be desperate to recover, get their old life back and return to work. However it is also helpful for defendants and their insurers because it can ultimately minimise what they have to pay out in compensation. For example if someone is helped to recover with private physiotherapy rather than having to wait months for NHS treatment then the injured person will be able to get back to work and therefore the insurers will have less to pay. It is in everyone’s interests to help injured people recover as quickly and fully as possible.
The Rehabilitation Code is a framework for claimant lawyers and “compensators” (defendants, their insurers and solicitors) to work together to ensure that the injured person’s health, quality of life, independence and ability to work are restored before, or alongside, assessment of the legal claim.
The aim is to restore the person to the position they were in before the accident. If this is not possible due to the severity of the injuries then the aim is to do that as far as possible, to minimise the ongoing impact on the person’s life. The goal is to promote early rehabilitation to ensure the injured person makes the best and quickest recovery.
The Rehabilitation Code is voluntary, but all parties are encouraged to consider it and work together both at the beginning of a claim and throughout.
It is an important feature of the Rehabilitation Code that rehabilitation is encouraged even before liability is investigated or admitted. This means that an injured Claimant’s life can be dramatically improved even while the legal investigations are ongoing. The Code can even be followed where there is a dispute on liability and the costs of treatment provided under the Code are not recoverable from the injured person, even if their claim ultimately fails (unless the Claimant is found to have acted fraudulently or dishonestly).
In most cases rehabilitation will be co-ordinated by a case manager, a professional who investigates what interventions will help the injured person and who can provide that. The case manager co-ordinates all the different providers and also liaises with NHS treatment providers to deliver a holistic approach. Providers used can include physiotherapists, occupational therapists, prosthetists and psychologists. Support workers, cleaners and gardeners may also be required. Further down the line, if the injured person needs to change job or career as a result of their injuries input can be sought from employment specialists with regards to retraining.
The injured person retains control of their treatment. They can choose who the case manager will be and they are not required to undergo treatment or intervention which is unreasonable.
At Slee Blackwell we recognise that the most important thing for our clients is to get their life back to how it would have been if the accident had not happened. We will always endeavour use the Rehabilitation Code wherever possible to achieve that aim.