I have been reminded recently of the crucial role that an experienced personal injury lawyer can play in facilitating the smooth recovery and delivery of rehabilitation to a person seriously injured in an accident.
It is, however, crucial that there be early intervention from a lawyer on an injured person’s behalf to make sure that suitable arrangements are put in place, particularly when a seriously injured person has been discharged home after a lengthy hospital stay.
Understandably, when a person is seriously injured in a car accident, workplace accident etc, the first concern is to ensure that adequate in-hospital treatment is provided to assist the person through the acute injury phase. That usually means that turning the mind to obtaining legal advice about potential compensation rights takes a backwards seat until the injured person is released from hospital.
However, waiting to obtain that advice until after the person is released from hospital can be detrimental to ensuring that reasonable and necessary care and home needs assessments are undertaken to make the transition from hospital to home an easier and less daunting one.
Rights Following a Motor Vehicle Accident
In Queensland, persons injured in a motor vehicle accident have their rights to compensation determined by the Motor Accident Insurance Act 1994, the CTP Scheme in Queensland.
Section 51 of that Act outlines that the CTP Insurer of the vehicle at fault for the accident has an obligation to fund “reasonable and appropriate rehabilitation services”. Commonly, that will include medical treatment, physiotherapy, occupational therapy services etc.
However, if the person is more seriously injured, such services also include home care needs such as nursing services, cleaning services and yard and garden maintenance services. In the most serious injuries, such services also include personal carers to facilitate home and in community care needs to lessen the burden on family members.
The compensation entitlements to workers who suffer injuries in the course of their employment in Queensland falls in the operation of the Workers Compensation Rehabilitation Act 2003.
By virtue of section 220 of the Act, WorkCover has an obligation to “take all reasonable steps to secure the rehabilitation and early return to suitable duties of….. workers who have an entitlement to compensation”.
Section 40 of the Act defines rehabilitation to include:
“a process designed to –
- Ensure the workers’ earliest possible return to work; or
- Maximise the workers’ independent functioning”.
As such, a person suffering serious injuries in a workplace accident is also entitled to the type of home care services outlined above.
In 2 recent cases that I have been representing the interests of persons injured in a motor vehicle accident, the situation has arisen where lengthy hospital stays have been ended with very short notice by hospitals seeking to discharge those persons to their home environment with as little as 2 – 3 days notice.
The difficultly with such a short notice period is that the type of care and support that is required for persons to live independently at home with their serious injuries takes time to put in place. The process ordinarily involves:
- Having an Occupational Therapist undertake an assessment of the injured person’s home and their individual care needs;
- Requesting funding from either the CTP Insurer or WorkCover Queensland for those needs; and
- Making arrangements with service providers to have care services put in place in time for the injured person’s discharge from hospital.
Ideally, that process may take up to 1 month to complete.
The important things to note are:
- Persons injured in such accidents do have an entitlement to funding for these services;
- The burden of providing home care services does not need to be left to the injured person’s family;
- Having the funding and coordination of care services in place prior to the injured person’s release from hospital makes for a smooth and easy transition from hospital to in home recovery.
The solicitors at Crew Legal have extensive experience in assisting seriously injured claimants with their compensation entitlements.
Please contact Crew Legal for a cost and obligation free initial appointment to discuss your rights.