Carers week is an annual event held to highlight the massive amount of work carers do and the challenges they face, in a multitude of situations, as they can often go unseen and unacknowledged. However, without their input, many people would struggle to function in day to day life and some would find it impossible to function at all.
As personal injury and clinical negligence lawyers, we are fully aware of the importance of carers for those injured in accidents or as a result of medical negligence. We are even more aware of the potential financial cost of funding those carers, either in the short or long term; sometimes even for life, as we include the cost of that care in claims for compensation. If someone is severely injured with a life changing condition, such as when a child is born with cerebral palsy, or someone becomes tetraplegic in an accident, then they may well require 24 hour a day care every day of the year, with potentially a team of around 10 or more carers to call on to ensure that there is no break in that care due to one of the team becoming ill or being on holiday, for example. It is not an exaggeration to say that an unplanned or unexpected break in continuing care could prove fatal.
Proper trained and experienced carers do not come cheap and nor should they, when you think of the responsibility they have.
Carers can also be unpaid and many family members find themselves in the position of an unpaid carer, perhaps for an elderly parent or a disabled child and sometimes both, as we as a generation find ourselves living longer and medicine finds ways to keep us functioning longer. A carer’s role is not just for physical needs. Some people need support with mental health issues or confidence building as well.
However, if you do have a claim for help and care following an accident and that care is provided by a family member, friends, or someone else volunteering to help out, we can also include a claim for that care as well. This is called “non- commercial care”, as opposed to actually employing and paying someone to provide that care, either as an individual or through an agency on a commercial basis.
The cost of professional commercial care is included in the claim at the actual cost, but non- commercial care is valued at a lower rate. It is important to remember that the claim for care is NOT the carers claim. The injured person makes the claim for the notional cost of care-there are rates which are generally held to be acceptable-and the idea is that they hold it on behalf of the non- commercial carer, who they may wish to pay at the end of the case. But we have to warn carers that there is often no obligation for the injured person to actually pay the carer in this way. Many family carers do not wish to accept it anyway, as they are happy to provide it.
But this does not mean that their help is not valued or unappreciated.
What we will ask our clients to do at the very start of a case is keep a day to day diary of the help and care they need due to their injuries. This has to be over and above “normal” care as happens when you’re not injured. If your partner always brings you a cup of tea in bed in the morning anyway, or does all the cooking or washing, then you can’t claim for help with that that as it’s not due to your injuries. But if you need help with say, dressing and personal care, or you can’t go shopping which you normally would do, then you may well be able to claim for that.
The best thing to do is write it all down and let your solicitor decide what might be claimed and what not. You will almost certainly be surprised at the amount of help you require!
If you can’t keep the diary, then we will ask the people providing the care to keep a careful note of what they do and for how long. Any expenses can also potentially be claimed, such as the costs of hospital visits if the carer is using their own car. The claim is based on mileage, not actual fuel cost.
We will take statements from both the injured person and the carers to support this.
With commercial care, it is important to keep all invoices, contracts etc for documentary proof of the care provided.
As a carer, even if not as part of a legal claim, do make sure that you and the person you are caring for get the correct amount of benefits you may be entitled to. The NHS has a duty to provide a level of care and assistance on discharge from hospitals, something which is often missed out on. To help, here are some useful links to information:
We can help
If you want to talk to our team about any issues in this article, call us on 01522 561020 or email firstname.lastname@example.org