Opinion

Rehabilitation remains at the heart of compensation

6th August 2019

Rehabilitation remains at the heart of compensation

Motorcyclists are vulnerable road users, exposed to a much greater risk of serious injury than the driver or passenger of a car. 

Despite advances in the safety of protective equipment, the lack of airbags, a seatbelt and suitable padding inevitably mean that when a rider comes off a motorcycle they are highly likely to sustain multiple, serious injuries.

Andy Shaw, Partner and Head of Personal Injury at Higgs & Sons explains: “I rarely see injuries limited to just cuts and bruises.

“In my more than 20 years’ experience, the vast majority of motorcyclists I represent sustain significant ligamentous injuries at best and brain or spinal injuries at worst - primarily as a result of the rider coming off the bike and hitting either the offending vehicle or the ground.  In many cases where a motorcycle is struck by a vehicle the rider sustains a crush injury, normally to the legs.”

Because of the nature of the injuries, when an accident does occur the repercussions are often serious and it becomes necessary for the solicitor to put in place a much more robust rehabilitation programme than, for example, someone who has sustained a minor soft tissue injury. 

“All of our clients place a great deal of importance on trying to restore their full function.  Compensation for the injuries is only part of the job we do.  The absolute core focus is putting in place a comprehensive rehabilitation programme in order to give our clients the best possible chance of achieving their optimal recovery. 

Physiotherapy is often required to assist with improving movement or preventing muscle deterioration. In cases of brain or spinal injury, damage may have occurred to the central nervous system resulting in loss of movement and sensation, uncoordinated movement, weak and floppy muscles, spasms and tremors. Neurological physiotherapy may be necessary. 

In the most severe cases where speech, communication, eating, drinking or swallowing are affected, speech and language therapy will be necessary. And in cases where a person has sustained life changing injuries, the legal and rehabilitation teams will be keen to assist the injured person adapt to day to day activities often with the help of an occupational therapist.

“The impact of psychological trauma should also not be overlooked,” explained Andy.

“The reality is it takes an enormous amount of courage for a rider to get back on a bike following an accident. In many of the cases I deal with, particularly for those clients who rely on a motorcycle as their only means of transport, I often argue that because it is highly unlikely that a rider will return to riding a bike again, any compensation award should include provision for the additional costs associated with driving a car.”

A  recent example saw Andy representing a 19-year-old male who sustained a serious brain injury following a motorcycle accident.  In addition to putting in place a comprehensive rehabilitation programme and negotiating a large financial settlement, Andy and his team arranged for the client to receive driving lessons (funded by the compensating party) to enable the client to restore his independence. 

“As a lawyer representing the most vulnerable members of society, we have to think outside the box. We have a duty to reposition our client as closely to the life they were living before the accident occurred which often means coming up with innovative solutions. Whenever we see a problem, we must try to solve it.”

Andy Shaw is a Partner and head of Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence. Contact him or a member of the team at Higgs & Sons on 0345 111 5050.

 

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