New research has laid bare the lack of cooperation between claimant and defence solicitors in brain injury litigation.
The research, by barristers Exchange Chambers and brain injury rehabilitation charity, Calvert Reconnections, examines the effectiveness of the brain injury claims and rehabilitation process through 164 in-depth interviews with claimant brain injury partners at law firms throughout the country.
Asked about their experiences over the last 12 months, 88% of claimant solicitors say defence solicitors have failed to respond to their request for rehabilitation within 21 days, while 68% cite a refusal to accept the recommendations of the Initial Needs Assessment. 70% believe the Rehabilitation Code should be made compulsory while 81% believe the process for securing interim payments under part 25 of the Civil Procedure Rules is too costly and time consuming.
The research also highlights how the recovery prospects of brain injured patients are being jeopardised by a chronic lack of resources. 71% of claimant solicitors believe the NHS is unable to provide effective support for brain injured patients while 97% say there are a lack of residential-based brain injury rehabilitation units in the UK.
Commenting on the findings, Bill Braithwaite QC, Head of Exchange Chambers and expert advisor to Calvert Reconnections said:
“This research suggests that in many cases lawyers still cannot agree on the most obvious recommendations as a starting point.
“Delay is hugely damaging to anyone who has suffered a brain injury. Sensible dialogue on both sides would improve the problem as rehabilitation will only work at its best if both sides enter into it voluntarily.”
Referring to the lack of faith in NHS brain injury care, Bill Braithwaite QC, Head of Exchange Chambers and expert advisor to Calvert Reconnections said:
“I’m not at all surprised. Acute care is often very good but subsequent rehabilitation can be hit and miss, doubtless because of shortage of money. That is why the private and charitable sectors are so important.”
In more encouraging findings, claimant solicitors say greater cooperation by insurers so patients gain earlier access to rehabilitation has been the greatest advance in the claims process over the last three years.
Said Bill Braithwaite QC:
“One of the most heartening aspects of acquired brain injury rehabilitation is the increased understanding by insurers of its benefit. They have taken a more open-minded approach in recent years – for which they deserve credit.”
The report also highlights the positive role outdoor activities can play in brain injury rehabilitation. Walking is viewed as the most effective activity, followed by fishing, gardening, horse riding, cycling, water sports and orienteering.
Continued Bill Braithwaite QC:
“There is considerable medical support for the notion that outdoor activity is helpful in brain injury rehabilitation. The challenge moving forward is to incorporate outdoor activities into rehabilitation plans wherever appropriate.”
About Calvert Reconnections
Calvert Reconnections, based in the Lake District, is the UK’s first intensive acquired brain injury (ABI) rehabilitation centre combining traditional interdisciplinary clinical therapies with physical activity in the outdoors. The centre opens in early 2020. https://www.
About Exchange Chambers
Exchange Chambers is a multi-disciplinary set of barristers’ Chambers.