A head injury can happen anywhere at any time; at work or in the home, when playing sports or when out and about, but most commonly they occur as a result of a road traffic accident.
Any injury to the head, whether it is a minor knock or a severe blow can have serious consequences, with complex care needs. When someone else is to blame for a head injury then compensation may be available.
Sharon Kinder, personal injury law specialist at Dexter Montague LLP, outlines the considerations when seeking compensation for a head injury.
Seeking medical help
One of the main problems with a head injury is that is not always immediately obvious how severe the problem may be and the long term impact it may have.
Symptoms do not always appear straightaway, so may not be connected to the accident at first. This can especially be the case with children. Even if it is only a minor head injury, it is always wise to seek medical advice even if there are no obvious symptoms.
Any knock to the head, even if you were wearing protective headgear, can cause internal damage to the brain leading to problems with your mobility, your memory, concentration, decision-making and work capacity. You may experience changes in behaviour such as increased anxiety or depression. Sometimes your eyesight or sense of smell, taste or speech might even be affected.
Your doctor can refer you to a range of healthcare professionals such as neurologists, speech therapists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and clinical psychologists who will assess your medical condition and recovery needs. You may need to have surgery or require support through rehabilitation, counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy.
Seeking legal help
If you think that you have suffered a head injury, no matter how minor or severe on the spectrum, then it is important to take legal advice at the earliest opportunity.
For compensation, your claim must be started within three years of the date of the accident. The scale of compensation for a head injury varies according to the seriousness of the injury, its impact on your daily life and the long term outlook.
Establishing that someone is to blame for your head injury can be complicated and often depends on where it happened. It can be especially difficult for head injury victims to recall the circumstances of the accident, especially if your memory or brain function has been affected.
The accident will need to be carefully investigated and we will help by getting in contact with witnesses, and gather evidence from the scene of the accident like photographs and CCTV footage.
A medical report will be prepared to help decide how much compensation you should receive for the injury itself. The medical report describes how the injury happened, the type of head injury you have, the emotional, behavioural and physical symptoms it has caused and how long it will be, if ever, before you fully recover.Your requirement for ongoing medical treatment will also be assessed and whether you need help at home or in returning to work.
For a child or student, long term educational and employment prospects will also be taken into consideration, especially if brain function or eyesight has been damaged.
Sometimes, there are exacerbating circumstances around a head injury that need further investigation. For example, if your helmet had a manufacturing fault or if you were moved by someone at the scene of the accident that caused further damage.
If the person responsible for the accident admits that it was their fault at an early stage, you can then focus on negotiating the amount of compensation you should receive.
Alternately, you may be offered an amount of compensation in settlement of your claim without anyone admitting liability. In this case, you should take legal advice on whether the offer is fair.
You can also claim compensation for loss of earnings, care, medical expenses and equipment including future costs. If your claim is not likely to be settled for a while and responsibility for the accident has been agreed you can ask for a payment upfront on account of your compensation to help with your additional expenses.
In some cases, compensation may even need to be renegotiated by going back to court if your condition worsens or your care needs change.
Our key contact at DMP for further advice and assistance on claiming compensation for a head injury is:
Sharon Kinder, partner
tel: 0118 939 3999
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.
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