Supporting the immediate needs of someone with a catastrophic injury

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In a catastrophic case, one of the most pressing issues is securing an interim payment of damages as soon as liability has been established, which essentially means an acceptance on the defendants part of some wrongdoing.

The extent of that wrongdoing may still be in dispute, however there will be agreement that some injury has been negligently caused. Interim payments allow the person who has suffered the injury to receive part of their compensation before their case has been settled to ensure that their immediate needs can be met.

For a child with a neurological injury, this can often mean purchasing essential equipment such as a wheelchair assisted vehicle, a wheelchair or hoisting equipment. A case manager may be brought in to help facilitate provision of such needs and will often assist with the purchase of a suitable property.

During the course of the claim, numerous experts for both parties must prepare their respective assessments of the person who has suffered an injury. As a result, the litigation process can be lengthy and therefore securing an interim payment is essential. Often, defendants will make voluntary interim payments to assist with specific purchases, however sometimes, the parties do not agree on the amount of these payments and it is necessary to make an application to the Court for them to decide the final sum.

The Court must be satisfied by evidence that there is a need for the interim payment requested and that the amount of money requested is reasonable. Compensation awards in catastrophic cases are often made up of a lump sum and annual payments (also known periodical payments) and therefore the Court must determine whether the requested sum is a reasonable proportion of the overall likely award.

Sharon Allison, partner and head of medical injury at Ashtons Legal, specialises in catastrophic brain injury cases says: “Often in these very sad cases, the purchase and adaptation of a property is a key to unlocking a whole host of other essential therapies needed to manage the injury. Having a care team who can access the specialist equipment to care for the individual can often not take place in the family home, so it is not possible to properly meet the individual’s needs until that essential purchase takes place. It is a complete privilege to be part of a process that has life changing consequences for the better for the injured party.

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