Care and assistance in personal injury claims

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When personal injury solicitors explain the concept of including a claim for gratuitous care and assistance to a client, one of the most common responses from the client is “I didn’t realise I could claim for that!”.

If a person looks after an injured partner, relative or friend, and provides care above and beyond what they would usually provide for that person, then they may be entitled to claim damages for that additional care.

For example, if someone is severely injured and cannot care for themselves (i.e. they need help with basic aspects of personal care such as washing and dressing) then the time that their partner spends providing this care can be added to the claim.  Similarly, if a married couple routinely share their domestic tasks on a 50/50 basis, but then due to an accident the wife has been involved in, the husband carries out all of the tasks for a period of time whilst the wife recovers, then the additional time he spends can be claimed. Other tasks such as transporting the injured person to medical appointments, caring for them in hospital, and childcare can also be claimed for, as can other domestic activities such as DIY, gardening and decorating.

In the majority of cases, the care or assistance is valued by working out how many hours per week on average has been provided. An hourly rate (usually around two thirds of the standard cost of professional care) is then applied. This hourly rate is discounted from the cost of professional care in order to remove tax, National Insurance and any profit element of the care and reflect the fact that it is non-professional care and has been provided gratuitously.

James Braund, solicitor at Trethowans LLP specialising in personal injury claims, states “This is an important loss which clients need to be made aware of at the outset. It is useful for a client to keep an outline diary recording the sort of tasks provided and roughly how long is spent each such tasks every week. Without recording such details, they can easily be forgotten as the claim progresses and this part of the compensation can then be compromised.”