If you have been seriously injured at work, rehabilitation may be vital to ensure your recovery is as complete as possible. But often those who have been affected by such accidents are unaware of the key role of the personal injury solicitor in ensuring a full rehabilitation programme is put in place for the recovery of the injured party.
What is rehabilitation following a workplace injury?
Rehabilitation is the process by which your health is restored through a range of interventions and therapies. Depending on your needs, or those of a loved one, following an accident at work, a number of health specialists may be involved in the rehabilitation plan, and crucially, all should work together to ensure the best possible outcome.
Rehabilitation will be undertaken by a mix of the following specialists – referred to as a multi-disciplinary team:
- Consultant in Rehabilitation Medicine
- Health-care assistant
- Neurorehabilitation specialist
- Prosthetic & Orthotics specialist
- Psychologist / counsellor
- Occupational therapist
- Rehabilitation nurse
- Social worker
- Speech & language therapist
If you have suffered a serious injury, you will most likely have been admitted to your hospital via accident and emergency, and may then have been taken to an intensive care unit (ICU), or high-dependency unit (HDU) depending on your condition. Once the acute medical team are happy you are stable, you will be taken to a ward, at which point your rehabilitation will commence.
During your inpatient stay in hospital, your rehabilitation team will work every day with you to help you recover any lost function (e.g. mobility, speech, or memory). Initially, the process may seem slow and painful, but with daily exercises, improvements are generally made. Once the rehabilitation team are confident you have made sufficient progress, and can return home, you will be discharged. Rehabilitation will then continue in an outpatient setting.
The Rehabilitation Code 2015 & the Pre-Action Protocol
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured at work, it is vital you instruct a specialist personal injury solicitor, not only to assist with seeking compensation, but also to ensure a comprehensive rehabilitation programme is put in place.
Under the pre-action protocol for personal injury claims, the representatives of both parties are encouraged to work together to prioritise the rehabilitation needs of the claimant, to ensure they make the ‘best and quickest possible medical, social, vocational and psychological recovery’. The Rehabilitation Code 2015 provides the framework for both parties to work together, and lays out their obligations as follows (as taken directly from the Code):
The claimant’s solicitors (or any claimant representative) must:
- act in the best interest of their client, over and above securing financial compensation for them
- have an initial discussion with the claimant about their needs in relation to employment communicate needs to the compensator by telephone or email as soon as possible
- provide detailed and adequate information to the compensator about the rehabilitation need and likely continuing disability. These details should be communicated within 21 days of becoming aware of them once the compensator is known
- consider appointment of a case manager where appropriate
Compensators (which include any person acting on behalf of the compensator) must
- consider as early as practicable whether the claimant would benefit from additional medical or rehabilitative treatment
- if the claimant may have rehabilitative needs, contact their representative as soon as possible to seek to work collaboratively in relation to those needs
- respond to any request to consider rehabilitation within 21 days, confirming the request or setting out reasons for rejecting it
This shows that if you or a loved one has been seriously injured in an occupational accident, there is a need for both claimant and compensator representatives to determine the additional medical and rehabilitation needs of the claimant and work within a tight timescale to make sure it happens. A case manager may be appointed to ensure the rehabilitation process proceeds as smoothly as possible by helping to liaise, plan, and coordinate the necessary actions. If you already have rehabilitation under the NHS, the case manager will work with the NHS team to verify if any additional treatment or therapy is needed.
Ensuring you receive the best rehabilitation possible
It is important that the best possible rehabilitation plan is in place as soon as you are medically stable; often the sooner you start the process, the better the outcome. At Russell Worth, we have successfully represented and guided many highly complex workplace injury claimants, helping them put the most comprehensive rehabilitation programme in place. Our team will manage the process for you, liaising with your hospital medical team and compensator’s representatives as soon as you instruct us. If we believe you are not receiving the extent of rehabilitation you need, we will work to secure this for you, even if this needs to be undertaken at a different NHS hospital or private setting.
At Russell Worth Solicitors we specialise in personal injury claims. If you have suffered a workplace injury and would like a free claim assessment, please call us now on 0800 028 2060 or complete our Online Claim Assessment.