03 Jun 2024

Can I claim compensation even if I am partly to blame for an accident?

By Karen Hayes

In the UK, the legal concept of “contributory negligence” is used in cases where someone claiming compensation is partly to blame for the incident in which they were injured. It refers to a situation where the claimant’s own actions contributed to their injury or loss.

The extent to which your own actions contributed to your accident will be considered by a judge when determining the amount of compensation you receive.

But even if you are partly responsible, it does not necessarily mean you cannot make a claim, although it might affect how much you receive. Either the parties can reach an agreement out of Court, or the Court can assess the degree of fault on both sides and apportion liability accordingly.

Here are a couple of examples:

Car Accidents

Contributory negligence in a road accident could be something like not wearing a seatbelt as a driver or passenger. It is deemed that you have not taken precautions to prevent your injuries. If your injuries could have wholly been prevented by wearing a seatbelt your compensation could typically be reduced by 25%, but if the injuries would have only been reduced by a seat belt, then your compensation may only be reduced by 15%.

When deciding who is responsible for an accident in which a pedestrian is struck by a car, the actions of both car driver and pedestrian are reviewed to determine who was mostly at fault. Factors which are considered in assessing pedestrian contributory negligence may include whether the pedestrian crossed the road at a designated crossing, whether they were paying attention to traffic, whether they were intoxicated or were too busy using a mobile phone. Even if the police are involved but do not prosecute the driver for any criminal offence, the pedestrian may still be able to make a claim against the driver’s insurance for injuries and losses if the accident was partly the driver’s fault.

Workplace Accidents

In cases of workplace injuries, if an employee fails to follow safety procedures, misuses equipment or does not use the safety equipment provided, their actions might be considered as contributory negligence. This can then affect their compensation.

Contributory negligence is not a complete bar to making a claim in the UK. Even if you are partly at fault, you may still be entitled to some compensation.

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21 May 2024

Have you or someone close to you suffered a brain injury or concussion?

As Action for Brain Injury Week (20-26 May) gets underway for 2024, this can often be a time of reflection for those who have either survived brain injury or are close to someone who has.

If you or someone close to you is recovering from a brain injury, there are numerous possible causes, which can include a Road Traffic accident, an accident at work, an assault, or a multitude of other types of brain trauma, then navigating through this challenging period can feel overwhelming.

At Coulthursts, our dedicated team are here to support you every step of the way at what is certain to be an extremely daunting time.

What sets Coulthursts apart is that we are not just another law firm; we specialise solely in brain injury cases, and our commitment to our clients goes beyond supporting the best possible outcome in legal proceedings. We believe in a personalised, client centric approach where we prioritise your wellbeing.

From the outset, we can often facilitate and fund early rehabilitation and treatment for our clients, tailored to your specific needs and those of your family. Whether it’s a few hours of support each week or comprehensive care packages, we recognise the critical role early intervention plays in achieving the best possible long-term outcomes.

Financial worries should not compound the stress of recovery. That is why we offer short-term emergency support, which can ease immediate concerns, such as hospital visit costs, and we provide comprehensive financial guidance, ensuring that the individual has the resources to focus on their recovery journey without additional burdens.

At Coulthursts, in addition to securing the best possible outcome with regards to compensation, we are also focused about securing the individual’s future.

We also understand the holistic nature of recovery, which is why we champion activities like art therapy for brain injury survivors. Painting, drawing and other creative outlets not only stimulate brain activity but also foster problem-solving skills, enhance concentration, and boost self-esteem.

Looking for further inspiration and support? Explore the offerings of your local brain injury charities, where you will find a wealth of activities, events and workshops designed to support your journey.

And as you start on your path of recovery, remember to prioritise self-care. Get plenty of rest and avoid activities that are physically demanding.

Together, let’s shine a light on the resilience and strength of brain injury survivors. Your journey is not defined by limitations but by the boundless possibilities.

For further information and support email advice@coulthursts.co.uk

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17 May 2024

Melissa Allin Joins Coulthursts as Head of Business Development

Coulthursts has strengthened its Business Development capability with the appointment of Melissa Allin, who in her new role as team Head will help the company to support even more survivors of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

Melissa joins Coulthursts from Xyla (formerly CHS Healthcare) where she was Client Partner and brings with her an extensive background in client relationship management.

“As Coulthursts continues to grow from strength to strength in providing free legal advice to those who have experienced a traumatic head injury, as well as funds to enable early rehabilitation, Melissa joins us with an extensive background in client relationship management and 19 years of invaluable experience in the field of business development, with a significant portion of her career dedicated to the healthcare sector,” explains Philip Coulthurst, MD.

“Melissa’s passion lies in making a tangible difference in people’s lives and forging long term relationships built on integrity, making her a perfect fit for Coulthursts who share these values.”

Melissa adds: “I found Coulthursts particularly appealing due to its mission of improving the lives of individuals affected by brain injuries.

“There is a clear opportunity to forge strong partnerships and develop business strategies aimed at empowering these individuals. My goal is to ensure they receive the necessary support for a brighter, more promising future, characterised by high-quality specialist care that optimises long-term outcomes, which is very much the aim of Coulthursts as the brain injury lawyers.”

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04 Mar 2024

A smart new move for Coulthursts

Coulthursts, the UK’s only law firm specialising entirely in pursuing claims for people with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), has moved to larger premises as part of a significant expansion plan to fight for fairer compensation for more survivors of TBI.

The brain injury lawyers have made the move to new offices in King Street, Manchester, to coincide with a staff recruitment drive aimed at increasing the depth of their legal expertise.

The firm, which supports claimants throughout the UK, has experienced a phenomenal increase in demand for its services since it pioneered a unique way of helping new clients by meeting some of the upfront costs for resources which kick start their rehabilitation before launching the legal process which will ultimately pay for it.

The scheme – which has been developed by the firm’s founders, experienced personal injury solicitor Philip Coulthurst, and medical practitioner Dr Richard Newland – has helped to speed up the process and greatly enhanced  the outcome for the firm’s clients.

At Coulthursts, the number of clients each lawyer has is very low, and much lower than many other firms. This has been a welcome surprise to the lawyers joining Coulthursts and means they have more time for each client and their families.

Coulthursts feel this is important on many levels, including to help avoid unnecessary delay and shorten the length of cases. It also gives each lawyer the time to focus on achieving the best result for each client, not only the compensation, but also the support, rehabilitation and quality of life

Brain Injury Solicitor Karen Hayes, who joined Coulthursts in November 2022, explains: “Over my 26 years’ experience of dealing with catastrophic and brain injured clients, for a variety of firms, I usually would have between 35-50 clients.

“Now, I only have around five clients to dedicate my time and focus my attention on. This is an anomaly, not an industry norm.”

Philip Coulthurst, who has more than 20 years’ experience as a solicitor, with a specialty in brain Injury, adds: “We are excited about our office move because it will continue serving our expanding needs.

“We are also excited about the quality of the people who make up our legal team and this will only become more enhanced as we continue to recruit.

“Enabling the recovery of our clients is always our first priority and this is why, long before any legal settlement is reached for them, we are often able to support their ongoing rehabilitation.

“Expediting the provision of therapy and specialist treatment for severely injured people not only speeds up their recovery, but also improves the quality of life they finally achieve. This is also why we work closely with a growing number of the UK’s leading charities and neurorehabilitation treatment centres in our specialist legal field of TBI.”

To ensure that the service provided to clients is the best possible, Coulthursts are always studying the latest developments in scientific research into the causes and treatment of TBI

They also keep a continuous watch on a panorama of changing social trends which could affect the legal rights of TBI patients. These can range from a greater understanding of long term sports injuries to the future implications of road accidents involving driverless cars.

For our terms of use and disclaimer follow this link: https://coulthursts.co.uk/legal-terms-of-use/

08 Jan 2024

Acquired brain Injury Parliamentary Group’s Successful Return

By Karen Hayes

In recent years, the Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) Parliamentary Group has played a vital role in raising awareness, advocating change, and supporting individuals and families affected by acquired brain injuries.  After a temporary hiatus, the group made a triumphant return in 2023, reinvigorating its efforts to address the pressing issues surrounding ABI.  In this blog, we will explore the significance of the ABI Parliamentary Group’s return and highlight some of the key accomplishments so far.

Re-establishing a Platform for Collaboration

The return of the ABI Parliamentary Group has provided a much-needed platform for collaboration among lawmakers, healthcare professionals, researchers, and solicitors specialising in brain injury cases.  By bring together diverse perspectives, the group facilitates discussions on policy reform, resource allocation, and the implementation of best practices.  This renewed collaboration has already shown promising outcomes in terms of promoting a comprehensive approach to supporting individuals with ABI.

Raising Awareness and Advocacy

One of the primary objectives of the ABI Parliamentary Group is to raise awareness about acquired brain injuries and advocate for improved support services and legal frameworks.  Through targets campaigns, parliamentary debates and public events, the group aims to ensure that ABI is recognised as a significant public health issue.  By highlighting the challenges faced by survivors and their families, the group strives to influence policy decisions and secure necessary funding for vital services.

Addressing Legal Issues and Reform

Solicitors specialising in acquired brain injury cases have long been at the forefront of advocating for legal reforms to better support their clients.  The ABI Parliamentary Group acts as a crucial ally in this endeavour, offering a platform to discuss legal challenges, proposed reforms, and the need for enhanced legal protections.  By collaborating with solicitors, the group helps shape legislation that addresses the unique needs of individuals with ABI, ensuring their rights are protected and their access to justice improved.

Supporting Research and Innovation

The ABI Parliamentary Group recognises the importance of research and innovation in advancing our understanding of acquired brain injuries and improving rehabilitation and support strategies.  By working closely with researchers, the group promotes investment in research projects, encourages knowledge sharing, and helps translate research findings into practical solutions.  This collaboration between parliamentarians, solicitors, and researchers contributes to a holistic approach that benefits individuals with ABI and their families.

The return of the Acquired Brain Injury Parliamentary Group marks a significant milestone in the ongoing fight for improved support and legal protections for individuals affected by ABI.  By re-establishing a platform for collaboration, raising awareness, addressing legal issues, and supporting research and innovation, the group is poised to make a lasting impact on the lives of those living with ABI.

Coulthursts  Solicitors, is a specialist brain injury firm. We understand the impact that ABI has on not only those diagnosed with such an injury, but also their loved ones.  We obtain specialist treatment, care and rehabilitation to help those individuals with ABI to achieve their goals to enable them to lead their life to the fullest.

For our terms of use and disclaimer follow this link: https://coulthursts.co.uk/legal-terms-of-use/

01 Jan 2024

Exploring the Highway Code Changes

By Karen Hayes

The Highway Code serves as a crucial set of rules and guidelines for all road users in the United Kingdom and helps to ensure the safety and efficiency of our roads. In 2022, several significant changes were made to the Highway Code, impacting both motorists and pedestrians.  Uniquely specialising in representing people with Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI),  Coulthursts stays up to date with these modifications to effectively advise our clients involved in Road Traffic Accidents (RTA) and related legal matters. Brain injury solicitor Karen Hayes explores the key changes introduced to the Highway Code and discusses the implications.

  1. Introduction of the ‘Dutch Reach’: One of the notable additions to the Highway Code in 2022 was the introduction of the ‘Dutch Reach.’ This technique involves using the hand furthest from the door (usually the left hand for UK drivers) to open car doors. By adopting this method, motorists are encouraged to check for cyclists and other vulnerable road users before exiting their vehicles. This change can impact cases involving ‘car door accidents’.
  2. Priority for pedestrians and cyclists at junctions: To promote active travel and enhance safety for pedestrians and cyclists, the 2022 Highway Code update introduced a change in priority at junctions.  This change was codifying the stance the Courts have taken for a long time in dealing with these vulnerable road users who are the people most likely to sustain a serious TBI in the event of an RTA. Motorists are therefore now expected to give way to pedestrians and cyclists waiting to cross or turning into their path. This shift could have implications for us handling cases involving accidents at junctions and potential disputes regarding right of way.
  3. Increased penalties for mobile phone use while driving: With the aim of deterring distracted driving, the penalties for using a mobile phone while driving were significantly increased in 2022. Offenders can now face higher fines, more penalty points on their driving license, and even disqualification from driving in severe cases. Coulthursts is well-versed in the updated penalties and can provide accurate advice to our TBI clients.
  4. Guidance on safe passing distances: To enhance safety for vulnerable road users, the updated Highway Code provided clearer guidance on safe passing distances. Motorists are now advised to leave a minimum distance of 1.5 metres when passing cyclists and horse riders, where possible. This change emphasizes the duty of care drivers owe to these vulnerable road users and may have implications when representing injured cyclists or horse riders who sustain a TBI after being involved in accidents.
  5. New guidance for electric vehicle drivers: Given the increasing popularity of electric vehicles (EVs), the 2022 Highway Code update included specific guidance for EV drivers. It covers topics such as charging etiquette, parking considerations, and the importance of ensuring vehicles are left in a safe state while charging. We may encounter cases involving EV-related incidents or disputes, and familiarity with these guidelines will be invaluable in providing accurate legal advice.

As solicitors, it is crucial to remain informed about the changes introduced in the Highway Code, as they directly impact the legal landscape surrounding road traffic accidents and related matters. By understanding the 2022 modifications, such as the ‘Dutch Reach,’ revised priority at junctions, increased penalties for mobile phone use, guidance on safe passing distances, and specific guidelines for electric vehicle drivers, Coulthursts can effectively navigate and advocate for clients with TBI in these evolving legal scenarios.

For our terms of use and disclaimer follow this link: https://coulthursts.co.uk/legal-terms-of-use/

04 Dec 2023

Understanding the Recent Changes to DVLA Regarding Eyesight Rules

By Karen Hayes

In recent times, The Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has implemented some changes to its rules concerning eyesight requirements for drivers.  These changes aim to enhance road safety by ensuring that all drivers have adequate vision to operate a vehicle safely and Coulthursts recognises the importance of staying updated with such modifications to help our clients. Unfortunately, it is estimated by The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents that 2,900 casualties per year are caused by poor driver vision [July 2021 ROSPA data].  As such, this blog will highlight the key changes to the DVLA rules about eyesight and what they mean for drivers.

Revised Minimum Standards

The DVLA has introduced revised minimum eyesight standards which drivers must meet to obtain or renew their driving licenses.  Previously, drivers were merely required to read a number plate from a distance of 20 metres during their driving test, but the updated standards place emphasis on visual acuity and field of vision in addition to distance.  Drivers are now required to meet specific criteria for both these factors, ensuring their eyesight is adequate for safe driving.

Visual Acuity Requirements

Visual acuity refers to the clarity of vision, typically measured using the Snellen chart. This is the chart with various sized letters that opticians use to check your eyesight.  The DVLA now mandates that drivers must be able to read a number plate from a distance of 20 metres (65 feet).  This requirement applies to both new license applicants and those renewing their licenses.  If a driver fails to meet this criterion, they may face license suspension or be required to undergo additional tests to prove their visual acuity.

Field of Vision Standards

The field of vision is the area that a person can see without moving their eyes and the DVLA has specified a minimum field of vision requirement for drivers.  Generally, drivers must have a field of vision of at least 120 degrees horizontally and 20 degrees vertically. This standard ensures that drivers have adequate peripheral vision to be aware of their surroundings and potential hazards on the road.

Regular Eye Tests

To comply with the new DVLA rules, drivers are encouraged to have regular eye tests.  An eye examination can identify any potential vision problems and enable early detection of conditions that may affect a driver’s ability to meet the minimum eyesight standards.  If a driver’s eyesight deteriorates between license renewals, they are responsible for notifying the DVLA and their insurance provider.

Professional Opinions and Medical Reports

If a driver is concerned about their eyesight or has received medical advice suggesting their vision may not meet the required standards, it is crucial to seek professional opinions and medical reports.  An optometrist or ophthalmologist can assess the driver’s eyesight and provide necessary documentation to support any discussions with the DVLA.

Conclusion

The DVLA’s recent changes to the rules on eyesight requirements for drivers demonstrate the agency’s commitment to road safety.  As a driver, it is essential to stay informed about these changes and ensure that you meet the revised minimum eyesight standards.  Regular eye tests and professional opinions play a significant role in maintaining your ability to driver legally and safely.  If you have any concerns about your eyesight, consult with an eye care professional and seek guidance from the DVLA to ensure compliance with the latest regulations.

Personal injury claims which arise from eyesight issues can cause catastrophic outcomes for those involved. Remember, prioritising your vision means prioritising your safety and the safety of others on the road.

For our terms of use and disclaimer follow this link: https://coulthursts.co.uk/legal-terms-of-use/

20 Nov 2023

Exploring the Legal Position of Driverless Cars in the UK

By Karen Hayes

Driverless cars, also known as autonomous vehicles, are rapidly emerging as a disruptive technology that has the potential to revolutionise the transportation industry.  As these vehicles become more advanced and widespread, it is crucial to understand the legal framework surrounding their operation in the United Kingdom.  Brain injury solicitor Karen Hayes explores the current legal position for driverless cars in the UK and considers key aspects of the debate, including liability, regulation, and the future of autonomous vehicles.

Liability & Responsibility

One of the primary concerns with driverless cars is determining liability in the event of an accident.  Currently, under UK law the driver or operator of a vehicle is responsible for any accident or damages that occur.  However, with autonomous vehicles, where there may not be a human driver in control, the question arises as to who should be held liable.  The UK government has acknowledged this challenge and is considering the introduction of a new framework that includes a system of strict liability, making it easier to determine responsibility in accidents involving autonomous vehicles.

Regulatory Framework

To facilitate the safe deployment and operation of driverless cars, the UK government has been actively developing a regulatory framework.  In 2021, the Department for Transport (DfT) released the “Code of Practice: Automated Vehicle Trialling”, which provides guidelines and recommendations for those conducting trials of autonomous vehicles on public roads.  The DfT is also working on the Automated Lane Keeping System (ALKS) regulations, which would allow the use of automated systems for driving on motorways in specific circumstances.  A full regulatory framework is expected by 2025.

Data Protection and Privacy

Driverless cars generate a vast amount of data, including location information, vehicle performance data, personal data, and performance data about passengers.  Ensuring data protection and privacy is a crucial aspect of the legal position regarding autonomous vehicles.  The UK already has comprehensive data protection laws in place, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which sets strict rules for collection, storage, and use of personal data.  It is essential for manufacturers and service providers to comply with these regulations and prioritise data security to maintain public trust.

Insurance and Product Liability

With the introduction of autonomous vehicles, the insurance industry will face significant changes.  Traditional motor insurance policies are based on the assumption that human drivers are responsible for accidents.  However, with driverless cars, the focus shifts towards product liability, where the manufacturers or technology providers may assume a greater share of the responsibility.  The insurance industry is adapting to these changes, and some insurers have started offering specialised policies for autonomous vehicles.

Public Perception and Acceptance

While the legal framework continues to evolve, public perception and acceptance of driverless cars play a vital role in their widespread adoption.  The UK government has been investing in public trials and demonstrations to increase awareness and understanding of autonomous vehicles.  Building public trust through transparency and open dialogue about the technology’s benefits and potential risks is crucial for its successful integration into society.

Legal precedents and legislation

Coulthursts is aware that driverless cars are a relatively new phenomenon in which the technology is developing and improving, as is the legal landscape.  At the moment, there is a lack of legal precedent and comprehensive legislation to address the liability issues that can occur as a result of an accident.  The Courts will have a difficult job in interpreting existing laws and will need to establish new legal standards.  They will also need to consider the interplay between different types of vehicles to determine the responsibilities and liabilities of each party in an accident involving both human-operated and autonomous vehicles.

Overall, this is a complex, evolving area of law which will inevitably have significant ramifications for road users who are seeking compensation after sustaining a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).   By instructing Coulthursts, you are ensuring you get the best up to date advice to deal with your Road Traffic Accident (RTA) claim, whether caused by a human or by driverless technology.

For our terms of use and disclaimer follow this link: https://coulthursts.co.uk/legal-terms-of-use/

06 Nov 2023

Understanding After-the-Event Insurance: Do You Really Need It?

By Karen Hayes

When it comes to legal matters, it is always wise to consider all potential risks and protect yourself from unexpected costs. After-the-event (ATE) insurance is one such option that could offer you financial protection in the event of a legal dispute. In this blog post, we will delve into the details of ATE insurance, its benefits, and whether it’s something you truly need.

What is After-the-Event Insurance?

After-the-event insurance is a type of legal expenses insurance that you can purchase after an incident has occurred and legal action is being taken. It provides coverage for legal costs, court fees, and other expenses associated with pursuing or defending a legal claim. ATE insurance is typically used to protect individuals from the financial burden of legal proceedings, especially when the outcome is uncertain.

Qualified One-Way Costs Shifting (QOCS)

Prior to the 6th April 2023, if an offer to settle (Part 36 Offer) was made by the Defendant but was not accepted by the Claimant, and at Trial the Claimant failed to beat that offer, then the consequences could be quite serious. For although the Claimant had technically won the case by proving the Defendant was at fault, they would have to pay from their damages the amount of costs incurred by the Defendant since the offer had expired (i.e after 21 days).  This could mean all the Claimant’s damages could be lost in paying the legal costs of the Defendant.

Regrettably, since the 6th April, the possible consequences of such a situation have become even worse. Now the Court can award the Defendant’s costs from the Claimant’s damages and also from their costs.  This means if you do not have After the Event Insurance to protect you, then you could be left not only with no damages, but also a bill for your Solicitor’s costs if you fail to beat a Part 36 Offer.

It appears that it would be better for a Claimant to lose a claim in its entirety, rather than just failing to beat an offer.  This is because with QOCS, if there is no finding of fundamental dishonesty or fraud against the Claimant, if they simply lose the claim, then the Defendant will not be able to recover their costs.  Further, under the No Win No Fee Agreement, your solicitor would simply write off their costs as you had not ‘won’.

Benefits of After-the-Event Insurance:

  1. Financial Protection:

Legal disputes can be expensive, with costs piling up quickly. ATE insurance helps mitigate the financial risk by covering legal fees and other related expenses, giving you peace of mind during a potentially stressful time. This means that if you followed your Solicitor’s advice and rejected a Part 36 Offer and then failed to beat it at trial, the ATE insurer would pay the Defendant’s costs.  As such, you would still retain your damages, enabling you to pay a contribution to your legal fees in accordance with the No Win No Fee Agreement.

  1. Access to Justice:

ATE insurance can help level the playing field, ensuring that individuals or smaller entities can pursue legal action against larger opponents without fear of prohibitive costs.

  1. Risk Management:

Legal cases can be unpredictable, and outcomes are never guaranteed. ATE insurance safeguards you against the possibility of having to pay your opponent’s legal costs.

  1. Confidence in Pursuing Claims:

With ATE insurance, you might feel more confident in pursuing a claim or defending yourself in court, knowing that your financial interests are protected.

Do You Really Need After-the-Event Insurance?

While ATE insurance offers significant advantages, it might not be necessary in every situation. Here are some factors to consider when deciding if you need ATE insurance:

  1. Nature of the Legal Dispute:

Evaluate the complexity and potential costs of your legal case. If it is a straightforward matter with low costs involved, ATE insurance might not be essential.

  1. Financial Capability:

Assess your ability to cover legal expenses out of pocket. If the potential costs could jeopardise your financial stability, ATE insurance might be a prudent choice.

  1. Opponent’s Resources:

Consider the financial strength of the opposing party. If they have deep pockets and can afford a prolonged legal battle, ATE insurance can provide a safety net for you.

  1. Legal Advice:

Consult with Coulthursts to get their professional opinion on whether ATE insurance is recommended for your specific case.

Conclusion:

After-the-event insurance can be a valuable tool to protect yourself from unexpected legal costs and provide you with the confidence to pursue a legal claim. While it might not be necessary for every situation, its benefits are worth considering, especially if your case involves significant financial risks. To make an informed decision, carefully evaluate the nature of your legal dispute, your financial circumstances, and seek advice from Coulthursts. We can ensure you have the best After The Event Insurance protection possible to support you with your brain injury claim.

For our terms of use and disclaimer follow this link: https://coulthursts.co.uk/legal-terms-of-use/

23 Oct 2023

Choosing a Family Member or Professional Deputy: Making the Right Decision

By Karen Hayes

When someone lacks capacity to make decisions for themselves, whether due to age, illness, or disability, it becomes necessary to appoint a deputy to handle their affairs.  A deputy is responsible for making decisions on behalf of the person, managing their finances, and ensuring their well-being. This is especially relevant for people who have suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) as it can have a particularly debilitating effect on their quality of life which, in many cases, can be permanent.

One of the most important decisions to make when appointing a deputy is whether to choose a family member or a professional.  To help you make an informed decision, here are some of the factors to consider when making this choice.

Understanding the role of the Deputy

Before considering who is the best person to act, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of what a deputy does.  A deputy acts in the best interest of the individual who lacks capacity, making decisions that align with their values and preferences.  The duties of a deputy typically include managing finances, arranging care services, making healthcare decisions, and ensuring that the person’s daily needs are met.

Choosing a family member as Deputy:

Selecting a family member as a deputy often comes with a level of trust and familiarity that can provide comfort to the individual who lacks capacity.  Family members may have an intimate understanding of their loved one’s wishes, making it easier to make decisions that align with their best interests. Again, this is particularly relevant when helping someone with a TBI because closest relatives are not only affected by the person’s debilitation, but are also likely to be responsible for providing most day-to-day care.

Family members are also more likely to have a deep emotional connection with the person who lacks capacity.  They may be more attuned to their needs, preferences, and values allowing them to make decisions that prioritise their well-being.

Appointing a family member can also be cost effective.  Unlike professional deputies who charge fees for their services, family members may be willing to take on the role without expecting financial compensation.

Choosing a Professional Deputy:

By choosing a professional deputy, you know the person possesses the necessary knowledge and experience in managing complex financial and legal matters.  They are well-versed in the legal responsibilities associated with the role and can navigate intricate legal matters with ease.

Professional deputies can also provide unbiased perspective when making decisions, free from personal emotions or conflicts of interest.  This impartiality ensures that decisions are made solely in the best interests of the individual who lacks capacity.

Another advantage of having a professional deputy is that family dynamics can change over time.  However, professional deputies offer continuity and stability.  They are dedicated to their role and can provide consistent support, especially in situations where family members may be unable or unwilling to fulfil the responsibilities of a deputy.

Family Member or Professional.  Which is the best choice?

To decide whether a family member or professional deputy should be appointed, the individual circumstances of the person who lacks capacity should be considered.  Their needs, the complexity of their financial and legal affairs, and the availability of family members should all be considered in making this decision.

It is also essential to consider the dynamics and relationships within the family.  Conflicts or strained relationships among family members may hinder effective decision-making and potentially lead to disputes.

In some cases, it may be beneficial to appoint a combination of family members and professionals as deputies.  This can allow for a balance between the emotional connection to family members and the expertise of professionals.

Choosing between a family member and a professional deputy is a decision that should be made carefully, taking into account the specific circumstances and needs of the individual who lacks capacity.  There is no one-size fits all answer and the best choice may vary from case to case.  It is crucial to evaluate the trust, expertise, objectivity, and continuity offered by both options to ensure the well-being and best interests of your loved one.

Coulthursts, the only UK legal firm to specialise in TBI and to fund up front care for clients while pursuing their claim for damages, is ideally placed to provide you with expert advice on the subject of choosing the right deputy for your injured relative.

If you wish to consider becoming a deputy for your loved one, further information on the responsibilities and the procedures that must be followed, are provided at https://www.gov.uk/become-deputy

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