Early rehabilitation after a spinal cord injury is very important. This will initially be provided by the NHS but sadly funding and staffing issues mean that a comprehensive rehabilitation programme is not always possible. However if the injured person is bringing a claim for compensation, rehabilitation can often be provided through something called The Rehabilitation Code.
The Code was introduced in 1999 to promote the use of early rehabilitation and intervention when someone has been injured in an accident, that was not their fault, and they are making a claim for compensation. The Code was developed by both insurance companies and solicitors to try and encourage early co-operation by all parties when arranging rehabilitation.
The Code is not compulsory but all parties are encouraged to use it where appropriate. If liability is admitted the majority of insurance companies will co-operate, comply with the Code and fund rehabilitation. Most insurance companies will have their own preferred rehabilitation providers but they will be independent. However where liability is denied in full the defendant insurance company will not comply with the Code.
If the Code is used then the first thing that is needed is something called an Initial Needs Assessment. An Initial Needs Assessment enables everyone to work together with the injured person, and their families, to identify the individual rehabilitation needs of the injured person. The Assessment is done by a qualified independent party and a copy of the Assessment will be sent to both the insurance company and solicitors at the same time. The Assessment will consider both the short term aims and the long term goals so that a programme can be put in place as soon as possible. Each Assessment is different because it deals with individual needs. However a typical Assessment could include things such as:-
- Treatment and care needs.
- Driving/transport needs.
- Personal activities on a day to day basis, which can include household chores and the impact on hobbies.
- The impact the injury has on the injured person’s ability to work and how if possible to get back into working if possible.
- Lifting/carrying and mobility needs.
- Social circumstances including how this impacts on family relationships and housing needs and situations.
Identifying these immediate (and long term) needs at an early stage can make a significant difference to an injured person’s life and future recovery. Therefore it is not rocket science to see that the Code works to everyone’s advantage and should be used wherever it is appropriate.
Simon O’Loughlin and Karen Mann are both solicitors in the Personal Injury Department at Hodge Jones and Allen Solicitors