According to one of the UK’s leading charities in road safety, there were 1,730 people killed on Britain’s roads during 2015, a further 22,144 people seriously injured and a staggering 186,189 number of casualties.  Unfortunately, it seems – and despite the numerous campaigns currently promoting various road safety issues – there are sadly very few reductions in current statistics, with more and more road users continuing to sustain serious injuries.
If you’ve been unfortunate enough to sustain a serious injury, then it’s your GP or specialist will recommend some form of rehabilitation period in order to expedite your recovery process. What this might entail will naturally depend on the extent of your injuries and sadly, for some, may even be life-changing.
In serious injury claims (or ‘catastrophic injury claims’, as they’re also referred to), it’s common practice for compensation settlements to include the cost of any rehabilitation and this can range from the victim being able to receive specialist medical treatment, right through to being given full support services with any physical adaptions being usually made around the home.
In this article, we concentrate more specifically on the various issues surrounding rehabilitation and what can usually be claimed where serious injuries are concerned.
What is rehabilitation?
The main purpose of rehabilitation is to help an injured person be as productive and as independent as they possibly can be, through the use of the medical, functional and vocational intervention.
Rehabilitation can take a number of different forms which might necessitate working closely with medical experts, rehabilitation consultants, speech and language therapists and cognitive behavioural therapists. Of course, the type of intervention you might need will vary massively from one case to the next, but there is all manner of experts who can quickly be on hand to help you get back on the road to recovery – whatever that might happen to take.
Where will rehabilitation take place?
Again, the answer to this very much depends on your personal circumstances.
Usually, the rehabilitation process will commence at your local hospital, and you might then be referred for more specialist treatment – perhaps at an inpatient rehabilitation unit or even in the comfort of your own home. It all very much depends on the extent of your injuries and, of course, where you feel most comfortable receiving your treatment.
Why is the rehabilitation process so important?
Put simply; rehabilitation can help you become independent as quickly as possible. What’s more, it also provides those around you with the necessary skills and knowledge to make life much easier for you and will help teach everyone how to react positively to very different situations – and never doubt for a second that you’ll be presented with many challenges. However, given time – and all the support you need – you’ll soon be on the road to a happier and more fulfilling lifestyle, backed by a team of medical experts who’ll be with you every step of the way.
Why is rehabilitation so important to my compensation claim?
When your solicitor comes to calculate the amount of compensation you should be entitled to, they only get one chance to get it right. What’s more, if you accept compensation “in full and final settlement” you won’t be able to make any future claims. It’s therefore imperative that your solicitor has a full picture of your injuries together with a very clear idea of what your future needs might be.
Aside from that, rehabilitation also acts as your own opportunity to show the other party’s insurers that you’re willing to do everything you possibly can to put yourself back in the position you would have been in had the accident not occurred – and that’s exactly what the law requires you to do.
When might a period of rehabilitation be necessary?
Rehabilitation usually happens once you’ve received hospital treatment and have been fully assessed as to any future requirements you might need. Quite what can be put in place for you will naturally depend on the type and extent of any personal injury you’ve suffered, but usually, a full assessment can be undertaken in order to quickly identify any specific needs, such as physiotherapy, medication and more specific adaptations to help you get around more easily.
Will I be considered to be “disabled”?
Under the Equality Act 2010, a disabled person is defined as someone with a physical or mental impairment that has a “substantial” and “long-term” effect on their ability to do normal daily activities. According to the Department for Work and Pensions, there are almost 7 million people of working age across the UK who are either disabled or have a health condition which renders them to be disabled. 
In order to comply with current legislation, all employers must make “reasonable adjustments” to support disabled job applicants and employees; thus ensuring that all disabled people can overcome any substantial disadvantages, they may have to do their jobs. Failure to do so can lead to further action through an employment tribunal.
What if my personal injury is purely psychological?
It’s certainly not uncommon for accident victims to encounter mental health problems – particularly following an accident which might have been traumatic or has since led to anxiety or depression.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, one in four people experiences a problem with their mental health every year.  If you feel that your personal injury has affected your mental health then it’s important that you discuss this with both your GP and your solicitor since rehabilitation can also include vital support from your employer across a number of different areas. These typically include:
- Offering you more flexible working hours
- Changing your work environment (for example, by providing you with a quiet place to work when you feel you need some time and space on your own)
- Creating an action plan to help you better manage your condition
- Allowing time off work to attend appointments connected with your rehabilitation process
If you’re suffering any type of anxiety following your accident (including ‘flash-backs’ or have more specific concerns about getting back to what you consider ‘normal’ then you should always raise these with your GP and also ensure that your feelings are taken into account when negotiating any settlement through your solicitor.
What if I struggle getting around in my own home?
It’s not uncommon for some serious injuries to result in adaptations being made around the home; nor is it unusual for victims to move home altogether – particularly if the type of injuries are so serious that they might take several months, or even years, to recover from. Some people, for example, might choose to move to a bungalow in order to avoid using stairs, whilst others might opt for certain adjustments around their existing home such as:
- Widening doorways to accommodate wheelchair access
- Installing wet rooms and/or walk-in showers
- Putting ramps up to any external doors, thus enabling wheelchair or scooter access
- Installing chairlifts to get up and down the stairway
You might also need to consider certain adaptations to your existing vehicle – or even a new vehicle altogether; particularly if wheelchair access might be required.
If any of these are required, then the cost can certainly be incorporated into your compensation claim; together with any subsequent maintenance costs which may last for a few weeks, months or years.
What happens if I lose a limb?
If your accident has resulted in any form of amputation, then a good support mechanism coupled with a reasonable period of rehabilitation will allow you to access the best prosthetic limbs whilst also working with physiotherapists – or other medical experts – to help you get back on the road to recovery. Often this might well involve seeking private treatment – particularly given NHS waiting times, which often expand weeks and even months before treatment can be provided and/or a plan can be put into place to give you the best care possible.
If you’ve sustained serious injuries due to any type of accident, then it’s imperative that you seek both legal and medical advice at the earliest opportunity.
Whilst your solicitor will be able to provide you with more detailed advice about the claims process itself, rehabilitation forms an extremely important part of any compensation claim, and it exists to help you recover at whatever financial cost that might entail. For this reason, you’re certainly well advised to keep your solicitor fully informed of your recovery process since this will enable him or her to get the best possible settlement for you – which, rest assured, they most certainly will.
 Brake organisation: http://www.brake.org.uk/info-and-resources/facts-advice-research/road-safety-facts
 Department for Work and Pensions – Guidance; Employed disabled people and people with health conditions, updated 1st August 2017 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/employing-disabled-people-and-people-with-health-conditions/employing-disabled-people-and-people-with-health-conditions
 Mental Health Foundation – https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/statistics