Finance and Benefits

Money problems can mount when you or a loved one suffers an unexpected injury, leaving your family in a state of financial insecurity. Managing finances after a serious injury can be stressful, but help is available to guide people through this difficult time.

From medical overheads to ongoing household bills, financial matters can be a burden for those spending time in hospital following serious injury – and the problem is exacerbated by loss of earnings. That’s why it’s important to seek advice and support in managing your finances during this period of uncertainty, so that you and your loved ones can focus on making a full recovery.

Here, we offer advice on managing money in the wake of serious injury, and provide resources to help you claim the benefits you and your family are entitled to.

 

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Financial Matters

The first thing to do after you or a family member suffer a significant injury is to check your insurance policy for medical accident or emergency health cover. Insurers give a notification period in which you inform them of a serious health issue if they are to make a payout — so you should notify them of the injury as early as possible.

The next step is to approach your or your loved one’s employer. As well as regular sick pay, many businesses take out group policies to cover their workforce against unexpected injury or illness. The HR department should be able to help with these enquiries, and they may be able to discuss retirement on grounds of ill-health, so you could benefit from an early pension.

Once the severity of the injury has been established and you’ve made a serious injury compensation claim, notify your bank about your circumstances. Banks and mortgage providers may take a more favourable attitude towards overdrafts and arrears if they are notified as to the cause of the problems, particularly if a lawyer can provide a letter explaining that a compensation payment has been applied for.

Often someone is too ill to manage their own financial affairs in the weeks following an injury. An assessment of mental capacity needs to be made and this may be conducted by a doctor or other mental health trained practitioner; there are also private agencies offering this service (details of which we can supply).

While a mental capacity assessment can help to determine a person’s psychological health, it’s well-recognised that mental capacity fluctuates over time. This means that continued monitoring and assessment is necessary to safeguard an individual’s mental wellbeing, and ensure that decisions which affect their circumstances aren’t taken “over their heads”.

If someone is over 18 and retains mental capacity, but wants to authorise someone else to make financial decisions on their behalf, they can execute a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). In this instance, useful information about managing finances on behalf of someone else can be found on the gov.uk website.

Where an individual has suffered severe or lasting brain injury, the Court of Protection will appoint a financial Deputy to oversee money matters going forward. This is a long process, and one your solicitor can advise on.

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Chris Moore

Senior Solicitor and Joint Head of Clinical Negligence

Josie Robinson

Senior Solicitor, Clinical Negligence

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Benefits and Welfare

With expenses mounting during a stay in hospital, it’s important that you gain access to the welfare benefits you’re entitled to as quickly as possible — helping to ease any financial burden.

Many people fear that making a compensation claim after a serious injury could affect the benefits they receive, but this isn’t the case. Public law allows a “personal injury trust” to ring-fence compensation you receive after suffering a serious injury. Any compensation payments are excluded from the benefits assessment and will not affect your ability to claim a welfare allowance from the state.

Understanding what benefits you’re entitled to, and how to go about applying for them, can be difficult and time-consuming. Thankfully, there are several organisations which can help you navigate the welfare system and gain access to the funds you’re eligible to receive.

Your first port of call for benefits advice should be the Citizens Advice Bureau. Here you’ll find an A-Z of the benefits available, with a section dedicated to sick or disabled people and carers. They also have a helpline offering free, one-on-one advice about your circumstances.

Next, we’d recommend Turn2us, the UK’s leading anti-poverty charity. Here you’ll find an online benefits calculator, an A-Z of benefits, case studies, and details of charity support and grants which you may be eligible for. The ‘Your situation’ section is useful, offering advice for those injured or disabled, or the carer of a disabled individual.

In addition, there are several specialist independent financial advisers who have disability benefits expertise. Details are available on request.

Once you have identified a statutory benefit or service to which you believe you should be entitled, you may need help from a public law specialist to enforce those rights.

Hudgell Solicitors can engage professionals on behalf of clients to assist with maximising statutory support services — helping you achieve the best possible outcome for you and your family.

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