It is no surprise to learn that brain injuries, often referred to as an acquired brain injury (ABI), are often life changing. The complex nature of the brain and the severity of an accident cannot only change a person’s life forever but in many circumstances they can also change the victim’s personality.
We know from data released by Headway, the Brain Injury Association, that:-
- In 2013/14 there were just short of 349,000 hospital admissions with acquired brain injuries. This equates to 566 admissions per 100,000 of the population.
- Between 2005/6 and 2013/14 there was a 10% increase in ABI admissions.
- There is one acquired brain injury admission to a UK hospital every 90 seconds.
- During 2013/14 there were 162,544 head injury admissions to UK hospitals. This equates to 445 individuals each day or one every three minutes.
- While men are 1.6 times more likely to suffer a head injury than a woman, female head injury admissions have increased by a staggering 24% since 2005/6.
It is only when you get a chance to look at the basic statistics that you realise just how common head injuries and ABIs are today. There are many different environments in which the injuries can occur from the workplace to simply walking down the street, driving on the roads and at home. If you believe you have received a brain injury as a consequence of negligence by a third party, which caused about the accident, then you may well have a case for compensation.
Severe Brain Injuries
Unlike the vast majority of head injury claims, where a severe brain injury is involved it can be difficult or sometimes impossible for the victim themselves to pursue a brain injury compensation claim. As a consequence of short, medium or long-term brain damage they may be physically or mentally impaired to a degree where they require what is referred to as a “litigation friend”. This is an appointed person, often a family member or a loved one, that will be able to pursue brain injury compensation on behalf of the victim. If you need advice on claiming compensation on behalf of somebody please call us to speak with a solicitor free of charge.
Injured At Work
Unfortunately, the vast majority of head injury claims occur because of an accident in the workplace where there is a degree of negligence, many times on behalf of the employer. As with any compensation claim, there is a need to prove negligence on behalf of one or more third parties which brought about the accident and the ultimate injuries. We know that employers have a legal obligation to guarantee the safety and well-being of employees while under their management. In the event of an accident, which ultimately causes brain injury, we know the more common areas of negligence include:
- A lack of general training
- Insufficient health and safety guidelines
- Inappropriate safety equipment
- Badly maintained equipment
- A lack of appropriate warning signage
There are many other ways in which an employer can be deemed to be negligent but this gives you an idea of the legal obligations they have towards all employees. One misconception, even if the employee was partially responsible for an accident which resulted in a brain injury that does not stop them pursuing a claim. Assuming that the employer is found negligent, as well as the employee, this can simply result in split negligence and a reduction in any overall compensation settlement. Indeed, where perhaps there is more than one potentially negligent party, aside from the victim of the brain injury, it will be up to the courts to decide a split of negligence and liability. Again, this will not impact a victim’s ability to take numerous negligent parties to task.
Injured At Home
There are also many injuries at home which result in head injuries and potentially serious brain damage. These can happen for a number of reasons which include:
- Negligence on behalf of a landlord
- Incorrectly fitted fixtures and fittings
- Defective fixtures and fittings
Even though the vast majority of head and brain injuries will occur in the workplace, it is worth noting that if there is a degree of negligence by any party in relation to an injury in the home, you may still be able to claim compensation.
Injured In A Public Place
If you are injured in a public place such as a shop, walking down the road, hit by falling debris or involved in a road traffic accident, where there is negligence, you will be able to pursue a head injury claim. UK law dictates that all businesses have to maintain public liability insurance which effectively covers them in the event of an accident. This is similar where motor vehicles are involved with every driver legally obliged to maintain vehicle insurance to cover any successful compensation claims against them.
In the event that you are involved in an accident caused by an uninsured driver (or they escaped justice) there is a body known as the Motor Insurers Bureau which will cover claims for compensation. This is funded by a small payment taken from every vehicle insurance premium in the UK.
Brain Injury Due To Medical Negligence
One of the main causes of brain damage with regards to medical negligence revolves around a patient who was starved of oxygen for a significant period time. This can have a major impact upon an individual’s brain function and in many cases leave them both physically and mentally impaired. Where such a brain injury occurs within NHS jurisdiction, successful claims will be paid out by the NHS which is a self-insuring body, with private practices having their own insurance cover.
What To Do If You Suffer A Head Injury
Your first action if you are involved in an accident involving a head injury is of course to seek medical attention and the appropriate treatment. Head injuries are notoriously difficult to diagnose in their early stages and issues such as concussion may take some time to become clear. In the event of an ABI the vast majority of victims will be admitted to hospital for treatment, operations and monitored extremely closely. Where there are serious brain injuries the police may also be called to ensure that any evidence is noted in the event of any criminal prosecutions. It is also worth noting that when seeking medical attention and involving the police these actions will create an array of reports which can be used if a claim for brain injury compensation is later lodged.
In less severe personal injury cases we would suggest that the victim gather additional evidence such as photographs, witness statements and where the accident has happened. If the head injury happened in the workplace, a copy of the company’s accident book showing your own accident and possibly similar incidents. However, in the vast majority of brain injury cases the victim will not be in a fit state to gather additional evidence and will instead rightfully be more focused on obtaining the relevant medical treatment. As a consequence, it may well come down to colleagues, witnesses and friends to assist with gathering additional evidence which can be considered at a later date.
Collating Evidence In A Brain Injury Claim
Whether the injured person is well enough to help collate evidence at a later date, or their “litigation friend” takes on this role if there is serious brain damage, there will need to be some kind of formal timeline put together. This timeline together with additional evidence and medical/police reports can create an extremely strong case for compensation where there is obvious negligence. At this point you might want to contact a personal injury solicitor with full details of the accident and the resulting head or brain injuries. They will be able to review your evidence and advise you of the strength of your head injury claim.
If a solicitor advises you that they can take your brain injury claim on they will almost certainly want to do so on a No Win No Fee basis. In the event of a successful prosecution they will be able to claim their legal costs from the defendant although they will also require what is known as a “success fee” which can be no more than 25% of any compensation awarded. Always check before signing any agreement so you understand precisely what fee/s you’ll be paying.
Brain Injury Compensation Amounts
A brain injury compensation claim will be open to 2 different types of damages compensation, general damages and special damages.
General damages are simply financial compensation for issues directly associated with the accident such as:
- How severe the injury is
- Pain and suffering
- Mental trauma
- Recovery time
- Life changing injuries
- Ongoing symptoms
The level of general damages compensation relates directly to the injuries incurred and the impact on a person’s life. The guidelines that personal injury solicitors use for calculating head injury and brain injury compensation amounts are as follows:
- Minor head injury with minimal brain damage, £1,675 – £9,700
- Less severe brain damage, £11,650 – £32,700
- Moderate brain injury, £11,650 – £114,100
- Moderately sever brain injury, £166,500 – £214,350
- Very severe brain injury, £214,350 – £307,000
The issue of special damages relates specifically to financial redress for expenses incurred as a consequence of the accident and funding requirements going forward. These will take in issues such as:
- Loss of income/earnings
- Future loss of income/earnings
- Adaptions to the home
- Additional transport expenses
- Medical costs
- Future medical costs
There is no discretion/variation available when awarding special damages, as there is with general damages, because they are simply financial redress for costs incurred and future costs going forward. When you bear in mind the often intensive long term medical assistance required for those with severe brain damage, the cumulative impact of general damages and special damages can be enormous.
Settling Claims Out-Of-Court
Where negligence for a head or brain injury is relatively straight forward a defendant, or defendants, may well acknowledge this relatively early and look towards an out-of-court settlement. This will limit their legal costs, ensure that the victim receives compensation in a timely manner and bring to a close what can be challenging time for all parties.
There will be times where the defendant refuses to accept liability, or there may be shared liability between numerous parties, at which point the head injury claim will go before the courts. It is then up to the courts to judge on shared liability and the level of any compensation award.
Brain Injury Claims Time Limit
If you believe you have suffered an injury to the brain as a consequence of negligence by one or more third parties then you have a three-year window of opportunity to pursue an injury claim. The time starts from when a brain injury has been diagnosed, although with children the time constraint can be delayed until they are 18 which would allow them to pursue a claim before their 21st birthday.
If you’ve received a brain injury in an accident caused by someone else’s carelessness or negligence you could be eligible to claim compensation so please contact us today and speak with a solicitor for expert advice.