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January 18, 2011

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Rehabilitation needs greater emphasis, says law firm

Personal-injury lawyers want the Government to give far greater acknowledgement to the value of rehabilitation for injury victims.

The Government is currently consulting on proposals by Lord Justice Jackson to tackle civil-litigation costs payable by defendants in no-win no-fee cases. However, Thompsons Solicitors is dismayed by the Government’s apparent failure to recognise the importance of rehabilitation, and has called on ministers to put it at the heart of its civil-justice review.

To find out how injury victims view rehabilitation, the law firm recently carried out a survey of 50 of its clients. All respondents who had received rehabilitation while off sick last year said the treatment had helped them return to work earlier than they would otherwise have done.

The majority (70 per cent) also said it had reduced the amount of assistance they needed with day-to-day tasks, while four out of five said it had helped them resume leisure pursuits. All respondents confirmed their rehabilitation had been a positive experience.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) and the International Underwriting Association (IUA) are currently undertaking a review of the voluntary code of conduct on rehabilitation, which was first published in 1999.

The aim of the code, which is backed by several stakeholders, including the ABI, the IUA, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, and the Forum of Insurance Lawyers, is to ensure that injured people receive necessary rehabilitation treatment to restore their quality of life and earning capacity.

However, Thompsons claims that some insurers are reluctant to engage with the rehabilitation process, or are averse to offering interim payments (amounts paid to victims in partial settlement of their claim) to ensure that rehabilitation can take place at an early stage. Some insurers seem to view rehabilitation as a means of getting injured clients back to work before the client is fit to return, adds the firm.

Thompsons’ head of personal injury, Judith Gledhill, suggested that rehabilitation deserves greater recognition but warned it should “never be used as a stick to beat claimants with”.

She said: “There is a rehabilitation code, and if all parties act within the spirit of the code and ensure that claimants are offered and accept appropriate rehabilitation at an early stage, the outcome will generally be better for all involved in the litigation process.

“For insurers, promotion of early rehabilitation will generally result in a reduction in the amount of damages and costs paid, while the injured person will have the benefit of input and treatment from experienced health-care professionals.”

Approaches to managing the risks associated Musculoskeletal disorders

In this episode of the Safety & Health Podcast, we hear from Matt Birtles, Principal Ergonomics Consultant at HSE’s Science and Research Centre, about the different approaches to managing the risks associated with Musculoskeletal disorders.

Matt, an ergonomics and human factors expert, shares his thoughts on why MSDs are important, the various prevalent rates across the UK, what you can do within your own organisation and the Risk Management process surrounding MSD’s.

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