Laura Merrick Senior Associate
Getting the help you need faster through the 2015 Rehabilitation Code
When you or someone close to you is seriously injured, there are a number of initial concerns that will run through your head. Questions like:
‘How are we going to cope financially?’ once the longer term impacts of the injury on the ability to work start to become apparent; and
‘How are we going to afford the rehabilitation not provided by the NHS?’ once the injured person has left hospital and it becomes clear there is a long recovery journey ahead and uncertainty about how this will be paid for.
We are all grateful for the service the NHS provides. However it is no secret the NHS is under-funded for the demands placed on it, and it cannot always provide the amount of specialist rehabilitation that is so often needed by those who are seriously injured.
The question is, what can be done about it?
Once a personal injury claim has commenced, there is the option of getting an interim payment from the defendant (usually through the other party’s insurer), but this can be a slow and laborious process. In the meantime, bills need to be paid and further health care is needed. This is where the 2015 Rehabilitation Code comes in.
The Code focuses on the use of rehabilitation and early intervention and investigations with a view to helping the injured party recover quicker. It is usually only available to those whose claims were valued over £25,000.
The process is not mandatory but it is widely adopted by many insurers. The ‘at fault’ insurer agrees to early investigations via an experienced case manager, called an Immediate Needs Assessment. This identifies any rehabilitation needs, including care-worker support, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, neuro-psychological input and more.
The case manager is jointly-appointed by both parties to the litigation, i.e. you as the claimant through your solicitor and the defendant via their insurer, and each party sees the report following the initial assessment. The aim is for the insurer to consider directly funding any required treatment or rehabilitation without waiting for litigation or an interim payment.
This provides the injured party with treatment not provided by the NHS, helping the individual recover much more quickly. It is widely accepted that the quicker someone gets access to the treatment they need, the more effective the treatment will be for them, which is one of the main reasons why the Code is such an invaluable process. The benefits of this early intervention are endless.
The cost of the treatment is paid for directly by the insurer and is, therefore, separate and runs alongside the litigation. The treatment is funded whether the claim for injuries is successful or not. If the claim is not successful, the cost does not need to be paid back.
As a personal injury lawyer, I have personally found the treatment provided to my clients under the Rehabilitation Code has been invaluable to them and they have benefited hugely from it.
It has been a key tool in trying to get my clients’ lives back on track in the quickest time possible; to a stage where they are as close as possible to their pre-accident life. Without it, they would have struggled and been unable to achieve the results they did.
At the end of the day, that is usually all they want – to get as close as possible to being the person they were before the serious injury occurred.