Friday, December 14, 2012

Brain Injury Lawyers – unravelling the compensation complexities

Brought to you by our friends at ASB Law

Brain injury compensation claimants now responsible for legal fees
In  a move designed to curb insurance company pay outs and open the way for lower premiums, the government is attempting to curb the “ No Win, No Fee “ compensation culture by altering the way in which personal / brain injury lawyers are paid for their work.

Under the current arrangements, an insurance company which loses a claim against it would not only have to pay the agreed compensation but also the claimant’s lawyer’s fee of up to 25 % of the damages in a no win, no fee scenario. However, the system is due to change in April 2013, from which point the legal fees will have to come out of the compensation awarded.

Clearly, this could have a major impact on anyone suffering from a severe personal / brain injury. Awards of damages in personal injury cases are calculated as closely as possible to reflect the actual past and future losses resulting from the injury.

Of course, some people might query why lawyers actually need as much as 25 % of damages to cover their costs in the first place. The opportunity for claimants to engage lawyers on a No Win, No Fee or conditional fee basis was originally introduced by the Conservative government in 1995 to give people the opportunity to make legitimate claims without relying on the state for so much of the legal costs involved.

Under the 25 % system, lawyers have to make sure that the fees received from the successful cases which generate these conditional fees not only cover the costs involved, but also the costs incurred by them in failed cases where they get nothing for their work. This was why the government let them charge as much as 25 % in the first place.

Brain injuries justify maximum compensation
We tend to think that brain injuries are very few and far between and generally just affect a few unlucky souls involved in traffic or industrial accidents. Alarmingly, however, there are currently around 500,000 people in the UK (nearly 1 in 100 ) who currently live with disabilities resulting from a brain injury. Therefore the need for a professional brain injury lawyer becomes even more apparent.
According to BIG, the Brain Injury Group, there are several types of brain injury:
·       Brain Concussion is the least severe and most common injury
·       Closed head injury occurs when there is impact without breaking the skull.
·       Penetrating head injury occurs when an object fractures the skull and enters brain tissue.
·       Diffuse brain injury occurs when the brain is moved back and forth within the skull when the head is shaken backwards and forwards. Damage can occur in several areas where the brain hits the skull.
·       Brain contusion is bruised/swollen brain tissue that occurs when the skull cracks or breaks. This can be caused by a depressed skull fracture when fragments of the broken skull press against the brain or a penetrating skull fracture when bone fragments enter the brain tissue.
·       A haematoma is bleeding around the brain.
·       An epidural haematoma is bleeding between the skull and outer layer of the brain. A subdural haematoma occurs when blood collects between the outer and inner layers of the brain.
·       An intracerebral haematoma occurs when there is bleeding directly into the brain tissue.
There are, of course, other types of brain injury such as strokes which do not generally occur as the result of an accident. Where someone else is or may be responsible for the injury, as the result of a traffic accident or industrial accident, or even medical negligence then clearly the matter of compensation has to be addressed.

There are expert brain injury lawyers who specialise in cases of this nature.

ASB Law have very particular experience in head and brain injury, also with significant experience extending to a full range of catastrophic injuries including spinal injury, fatal accidents and amputations.
ASB Law’s Brain Injury Lawyer specialists include members of the Law Society Personal Injury Panel and the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers. ASB Law are also members of the Brain Injury Group (BIG), Actions for Victims of Medical Accidents, the Disability Alliance Panel, the Sussex Acquired Brain Injury Forum (SABIF), the Kent Acquired Brain Injury Forum (KABIF) and Headway, the brain injury association.

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