If you have been injured, probably the most important thing for you is to make the best recovery possible. The compensation you may get will be secondary in your mind – you want your life back. Rehabilitation is the medical care required to enable you to get back on your feet and get back to work, or, in the more serious cases, get the best quality of life possible. To be effective, rehabilitation needs to be in place at an early stage. For many conditions there is a ‘rehab window’ – the ideal time frame in which the maximum improvement can be delivered – which is usually early in the recovery period. For example, if you have had a brain injury, the first few months after the accident is when you will have potential for the quickest rate of recovery.
The NHS does a fantastic job in dealing with the many thousands of victims of accidents. Unfortunately the funding often doesn’t cover all of their rehabilitation needs. Rehab in hospitals is designed to get people to the point of discharge, which is a long way short of a full recovery. On discharge, services are often not joined up, meaning that injured people sometimes have no support at all, or meet significant delays before they access services locally. If the accident was caused by the negligence of another – be it in a road accident, or at work, for example, the wrongdoer should pay for the rehab, rather than the taxpayer.
APIL lawyers don’t just fight for compensation – they look to secure rehabilitation for their clients wherever it is justified, as quickly as possible. Arranging rehabilitation for a client can, however, be fraught. Sometimes, the insurer who is dealing with the claim may not be willing to admit that the injury was their insured’s fault. As they would be responsible for the costs of the rehabilitation, this prevents the rehabilitation from starting. This eats into that ‘rehab window’, with the ongoing delay taking away the potential for the best possible recovery. Sometimes this argument is justified – accidents aren’t always someone else’s fault – but often, it is quite obvious where the fault lies. We call for insurers to admit fault quicker in such cases so that the injured person can move forward and get the treatment they need.
Obviously, rehabilitation costs money, which may account for some insurers’ initial reluctance to proceed. However, providing rehabilitation can actually be financially beneficial for an insurer. If the injured person makes the best possible recovery, the insurer saves or reduces the costs of future care. If the injured person can return to work, they will not have to pay future loss of earnings. Rehabilitation reduces the overall social care bill. In some cases, the rehab improves the quality of life but does not deliver a financial benefit - for example, if someone has suffered a very serious injury and will require 24 hour care, rehabilitation can reduce their pain and increase their comfort, but will not reduce the costs of care. The courts see such expense as justified if it is proportionate.
Insurers and claimants have different, competing goals, but both want to see the claimant make a good recovery. It is in the interests of both sides to push for rehabilitation and put the claimant’s needs at the centre of discussions. The client is hugely appreciative of rehabilitation – it is important to their welfare, their health, and their well being. It’s not just about the money.