A LEADING QC is calling for a new type of comprehensive insurance policy clause to provide rehabilitation for people left with life changing injuries following a no blame accident.
Andrew Ritchie QC, one of the country’s highest profile personal injury and clinical negligence barristers, invites the Department for Transport and the insurance industry to create comprehensive policies to support rehabilitation of seriously injured members of the public when there is no legal claim.
He spoke out after hearing how William Mieville-Hawkins’ family entered a “blackhole” as they struggled to make sure their son received the right care once his NHS treatment had ended.
“Families cannot afford private high-quality rehabilitation and Local Authorities don’t have the staff or the finances to pay for it either. Our insurance industry is inventive and well organised. If all car insurance policies had a no-fault rehabilitation clause covering the first 18-months after release from hospital seriously injured people would regain much more independence and quality of life. I call on Government to encourage such a clause to be compulsory in RTA policies,” said Mr Ritchie.
“The system is woefully underfunded. Unless somebody is to blame you will not receive any compensation for treatment.”
Mr Ritchie added:
“The insurance industry needs to create a specific clause to pay out to provide rehabilitation treatment privately for people when they leave NHS care.
“This new policy would have helped William and his family a lot, but it doesn’t exist. Instead the family were stumbling around in dank cave of Local Authority funded care which was woefully inadequate.”
William spent eight months in hospital after a serious car crash in 2016 left him unable to walk and with acute memory loss.
A period of hard to obtain intense rehabilitation was needed and followed slowly, as William’s distraught family struggled to make the right decisions, find funding and fill in voluminous form after form.
William’s diminished mental capacity meant he could not participate in these decisions.
Mr Ritchie said:
“The insurance industry is strong and powerful, and very inventive. They will be able to make this work if Government requires all RTA policies to cover this need.
“If it added £20 to every policy, but it provided really good rehabilitation for people like William. Wouldn’t that be the right thing for society?”
Mr Ritchie spoke out at a recent conference addressing Court of Protection Professional Deputies organised by Frenkel Topping.
William and his mother Wendy Hawkins also spoke at the event about William’s road to recovery and the family’s struggle when a loved one is recovering from a catastrophic brain injury.
“William‘s suffering has highlighted a major blackhole in the system,” said Mr Ritchie.
“He was injured by chance. When he left the care and treatment provided by the NHS he fell into what I describe as a blackhole.”
“That meant his family, without any experience or funding, struggled to find rehabilitation services to help him recover.”
He explains that if there is a wrong-doer in an accident the rehabilitation is paid for out of the insurance claim.
“However, if there is no wrong-doer, like in William’s circumstances, the family are left stumbling around in the dark.
“They have no experience of how to access the right funding or social services support.
“Most people, William included, are let down by a system that is underfunded, over stretched and so inadequate for seriously injured people leaving hospital.”
Mr Ritchie’s call to the insurance industry for action has been welcomed by William and his family.
“We are delighted to receive the support of Mr Ritchie and would welcome a new clause in insurance policies to cover accidents like William’s.
“We fought tooth and nail, with no funding, to make sure that William received the right care once he left hospital at an emotionally charged time. We were unsure whether we were making the right decisions and at times I felt powerless to help William.”
“My progress has been quite remarkable given just how appallingly sick I was such a short time ago. I could not have been any closer to dying.
“I put my recovery down to support from both my wonderful family and fantastic professionals, but my rehabilitation has been driven by my absolute determination to get better.”
William, Wendy and Mr Ritchie QC were all guest speakers at the Frenkel Topping Deputy Day Annual Conference. The current issues facing Professional Deputies, who manage the financial affairs of adults who are deemed mentally incapable of doing following personal injury or clinical negligence, were discussed.
Mark Holt, Commercial Director at Frenkel Topping, said:
“We back Mr Ritchie’s call on Government and the insurance industry, implore them to listen to William’s story and act on Mr Ritchie’s recommendation. The Department for Transport and the insurance industry can do more to support families in this situation.
“In one respect William has been fortunate because he has had the love and support of his family fighting for him, but his recovery could have been improved if funding had been available.”
Frenkel Topping are specialist financial advisers for clients who have suffered a serious accident or personal injury.