In any personal injury claim it is common to claim for the care and assistance given by loved ones, or by professional helpers, for the tasks that an injured person cannot do for themselves due to the physical limitations caused by their injuries.
In the short term, the connection between the injury and the need for care is much clearer and easier to establish. However, a future claim for care and assistance extending into old age can be harder to establish because people tend to cope with their limitations and adapt. It is especially challenging where the claimant is elderly and arguments arise as to whether the claimant would have needed care in any event.
Penningtons Manches’ personal injury team acted for a client who slipped down a muddy bank at a social club and fractured her hip. She was 82 at the time of her accident and was an extremely fit and active woman, but the accident completely transformed her quality of life. She became dependent on friends and family for routine chores that she had always done herself. Liability for the accident was accepted fairly quickly as there had been a leak causing the bank to be wet and slippery.
The client claimed more than £60,000 for care costs alone to cover the help she received from friends and family for household chores etc but the defendant tried to argue that someone aged 82 probably required a lot of help anyway and would only need more help as time went on, irrespective of the accident. This was a cynical generalisation as a defendant must take their victim as they find them and not make assumptions about a person's age and fitness. We were able to obtain video footage of our client windsurfing on her 82nd birthday, as well as character statements confirming her fitness and dynamism before the accident. Consequently, we were able to recover almost all of the care claimed.
It is vital, therefore, to obtain good evidence to support claims that challenge general assumptions and this claim shows that getting to know the client and their unique personal circumstances will lead to obtaining the correct level of damages and giving them the best quality of service they expect.