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Brain injury compensation: the facts

Dec 5, 2022 | Uncategorised

Personal injury claims arise when an individual sustains an injury at the hands of another person or an organisation.

Not all personal injuries are somebody’s fault – but in order to seek compensation someone else must have caused you harm.

Common reasons to make a personal injury claim include accidents at work, road accidents or medical negligence.

In this article, we take a look at an especially severe form of harm: injury to the brain.

What’s the difference between head and brain injury?

This is a question that’s often asked. Perhaps the best way to explain the difference is through an example.

If you walk into a door and get a cut on your forehead, you’ve injured your head but not your brain. This accident may cause pain but it won’t have any lasting effect on your cognitive functions.

If, by contrast, you trip over at work and hit your head on the ground, this may be severe enough to cause temporary or even permanent brain damage.

What are the common causes of brain damage?

Outside of combat zones, the most common causes of brain damage among both adults and children are falls, vehicle collisions, assault and unintentional blunt trauma (a sports injury, for instance).

What are the consequences of brain injury?

The consequences of brain injury can vary from person to person. They range from an immediately noticeable physical disability to subtle changes in behaviour and personality.

Changes to the body can include a loss of sight, smell or taste or a diminished ability to walk or coordinate limbs.

It can affect cognitive functions. These range from memory loss to a reduced ability to reason, judge, absorb information and concentrate. It can lead to unexpected changes in a person’s behaviour and personality and introduce difficulties in socialising.

These are just some of the physical and cognitive effects that brain injury can have – but there’s also the effect it can have on a person’s quality of life. This is a key factor in determining a compensation claim.

For a child, brain injury can lead to a reduced life expectancy and they may need permanent care. Adults may struggle to return to work or provide care for loved ones. They may need round-the-clock care. This can have significant financial repercussions.

How is compensation calculated?

The purpose of compensation is that the person who caused the injury financially reimburses the injured party (or “plaintiff”, in legal language). We see this in personal injury claims regarding injury or property damage. This compensation is known as “damages”.

Damages aren’t only for the injury itself but also for the effect it’s had on the plaintiff’s quality of life.

Generally speaking, compensation is split into two types: general and special.

Special damages are compensation for monetary losses suffered by the plaintiff. This will depend on their ability to work and the costs of their care and medical treatment. There’s no blanket amount for special damages – each payment is unique to the individual. Because of this, there’s no limit to the amount that can be claimed.

General damages, by contrast, seek to compensate an individual for non-financial damages – in other words, the harm that they’ve sustained. The most common of these are pain and suffering, mental anguish and “loss of consortium” – meaning the loss of a special person.

All victorious personal injury victims can expect to receive both special and general damages.

The crucial thing to note is that there is no straightforward way of calculating compensation. It depends on the specific details of the case. This is one reason why it can be worth seeking expert advice when mounting a case.

How is the compensation awarded?

The damages are usually agreed with the other party outside of court with legal guidance. In some rare cases, the judge will impose the amount.

Once the amount has been decided, the plaintiff has a choice. Either they can receive a lump sum payment or a periodical payment (once per year, for example).

How do I make a claim?

If you or someone close to you has suffered a brain injury, you can contact a specialist law firm – by “specialist”, we mean one that employs personal injury lawyers with experience in brain injury compensation. They will ask questions and sound out the extent of your injury and the effect it’s had on your quality of life. They’ll also arrange for evidence to be obtained.

Many firms operate on a “no-win, no-fee” basis and are increasingly flexible about the nature of the consultation – meeting by phone, video call and face-to-face are all options.

Are there time limits?

In the UK, you have three years from the date of the accident to make a claim. If you didn’t realise the extent of the injury on the date of the accident, you can make a claim from the “date of knowledge”.

If the injury was sustained before the claimant’s 18th birthday then they must submit a claim by their 21st birthday.

Exceeding the time limit can jeopardise your chances of winning a claim – however, there are circumstances in which it can be extended. This could apply if, to take one example, you were misinformed by a doctor about the nature of your injury, or by a solicitor about the existence of the time limit.

Seeking compensation for brain injury is stressful and complex. While it is possible to make a claim without instructing a solicitor, the complexities are such that you may want the peace of mind that legal help can bring.

How can we help?

At Milners Law, we’ve helped people who have suffered brain injuries through complex legal cases – and won. We work on a no-win, no-fee basis and we always aim for 100% compensation.

If you need help, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We can promise you sensitive, expert guidance at a very difficult time.

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