Motor Accident Compensation

Major claims series, part 3: Personal care

TGB’s personal injury team writes about the requirements for paid care in compensation claims for people with catastrophic injuries.

People who have suffered spinal or brain injuries are likely to need some level of personal and domestic assistance.

There are many agencies in South Australia who provide personal care and domestic services. Basic services include assisting with preparing meals, cleaning (both daily requirements and spring cleaning), laundry and gardening.

For those with a severe spinal injury such as tetraplegia (also known as quadriplegia), the needs are even greater. A carer may be required to perform duties such as moving and turning the injured person to prevent the onset of pressure sores which bring the risk of infection. The carer need to check for such sores because they can become a serious health issue, and can even be fatal. This care may be 24 hours a day and may even require the assistance of two carers, in more severe cases. 

Carers are often needed to assist during outings. This may be through transportation, assistance with shopping as well as socialising and attending events. Such significant injuries can be isolating for the person affected and having this support is important.

A carer may not always be required. Sometimes an injured person will have a supportive family and friends who are willing to offer their time and assistance. The Court’s role, however, is to return the injured person to their normal pre-injury life with as much independence as possible, irrespective of how much family support they may have. 

The needs are different for a person with a brain injury. People with brain injuries may need assistance with memory related tasks and may need a carer to help with organisation, such as arranging and attending appointments as well as reminders for taking medication. 

A person with a severe brain injury may not be able to live independently. Such injuries can sometimes be accompanied by psychological issues such as major depression, self-harm tendencies and psychosis, which can make it unsafe for a person to remain in their home unsupervised.

When considering a compensation claim, it is important to be aware that rates for carers vary. There are Monday to Friday rates, weekend rates and holiday rates. The cost difference between a normal weekday and Christmas Day is large. This is where the lawyer plays an important role in calculating the expected costs ahead. 

For both brain and spinal injuries, evidence should be gathered regarding the possibility of other injuries or conditions developing. For example, a person using a manual wheelchair may develop shoulder problems as time goes on. The shoulder condition may deteriorate to a point where they are unable to fully function and this significantly increases the need for care. The shoulder condition may be so severe as to warrant surgery, causing the person’s need for care to rise dramatically in the acute period of recovery and rehabilitation. These factors must be considered in the overall compensation claim as well.

The overall cost of personal care for the rest of an injured person’s life is a significant part of the compensation claim, and it is critical that all aspects of a person’s future care needs are considered.

Read PART 1: Recovering the cost of travel here  

Read PART 2: Home modifications here  

Read PART 4: Vehicle Modifications here

TGB is a leading personal injury law firm with significant experience in catastrophic injury claims. If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident in South Australia, Northern Territory or Western Australia, contact your nearest TGB office or register for a free initial appointment here.