Cyclists are among those to potentially benefit from a pioneering scheme designed to maximise the recovery chances of head injury victims.
Designed by two lawyers who both have brain injured children, the scheme gives accident victims instant access to up to £125,000 for fast track rehabilitation and to cover loss of earnings.
Solicitors Andrew Lindsay and David Smith, from Preston, are both keen motorcyclists and cyclists. They set up Rehab4Life to help people with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) who would might ordinarily miss out on the benefits of quick treatment while waiting for their case to go through the courts.
Thanks to a unique partnership between insurance companies and a panel of neuro lawyers, money can be released up front to accident victims so they can benefit from it before the lawyers have even started fighting their case.
If the case is won the loan is paid back from the compensation award. If it is lost the insurance company covers the repayment of the loan.
Andrew told road.cc: “This has been in the making for three years and it arose out of a claim I was handling of a young mum who was in an accident with a white van driver and suffered horrendous brain injury.
“When she was medically discharged from hospital we went to the insurance company and said, can we have some money for her rehabilitation, and they said no. We said, why not, and they said because it’s her fault. We didn’t think it was her fault, that’s why we were claiming for her, but nevertheless because they were denying liability they wouldn’t come up with the money.
“I thought, how good would it be if we could persuade her bank to lend her the money? They wouldn’t. That’s what led me to find insurers who would insure the risk and three years later, after much door knocking and desk banging, we actually signed the scheme off and launched it and I’m delighted that we can offer it. It’s going to make a massive difference to people’s lives.”
The scheme would still assist cyclists involved in potential contributory negligence cases if the victim was not wearing a cycling helmet. As long as the accident is deemed not to be the cyclist’s fault, contributory negligence would only reduce the amount of damages by 15-25 per cent.
CTC lawyer Paul Kitson said lawyers and rehab providers often make arrangements to provide rehab care at an early stage after an accident, usually by the provider deferring fees until compensation has been awarded. But he said the new scheme is a welcome addition. He said: "It's good that firms are being proactive. I applaud their efforts."
A 2005 study found that almost 90 per cent of TBI patients were able to work or study following six weeks of intensive rehabilitation, compared to only 55 per cent who go through conventional rehabilitation. But getting the money to pay for it can be complex. Legal arguments over compensation can take years and access to NHS treatment is a postcode lottery.
Andrew and David specialise in brain injury, spinal injury and clinical negligence cases. Both have brought up children who suffered catastrophic brain injury at birth and know all too well what life is like for TBI victims and their families.
Andrew’s daughter Tracy, 26, has quadriplegic cerebral palsy and can only move her right arm. David’s son Peter, 20, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at four months and was later found to have autism.
Andrew says: “The fact that we’ve lived with brain injury and can empathise with anyone who lives with it and for the family of someone who’s brain injured. It’s difficult to get used to because life will never be the same again. One thing that people can’t say to us is we don’t know what it’s like because we do.”
For more information about Rehab4Life, visit the website: www.rehab4life.co.uk