The London 2012 Paralympics have captured the nation’s heart, perhaps even more so than the Olympics due to the numerous triumph-over-tragedy stories which have emerged.
Although there are several causes for disabilities within the Paralympic teams such as war, hereditary conditions and illness, there are a significant number which have arisen from everyday accidents such as road traffic accidents and accidents at work. These unexpected events have transformed the lives of able-bodied people, causing them to re-evaluate their future and their ability to fit within society and lead as independent a life as possible. In order to recover from severe life-changing injuries, all of the Paralympic athletes injured in accidents would have had to undergo intensive rehabilitation.
Around 21% of the British Paralympic team are disabled through accidents. Most accidents were from cars or motorcycles, as well as sports injuries, work injuries and falls. Examples include the wheelchair basketballer Peter Finbow who was introduced to the game whilst in rehabilitation after a road traffic accident when he was 16 years old and Andy Barrow who first heard about wheelchair rugby when he was undergoing rehabilitation treatment following a sports injury in 1997. Stef Reid was 16 years old when she lost her right foot to engine propellers in a boating accident and Steve Brown, another wheelchair rugby player, was left paralysed from the chest down after falling from a balcony in 2005.
Many of these Paralympic athletes may have been active before their accidents and the question for many was how could they continue to be active after suffering severe injury. The key is intensive rehabilitation over a long period of time. For those who are injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, the opportunity to make a personal injury claim is important in securing vital compensation to assist in paying for rehabilitation, care and adaptations to homes in order to ensure lives can be led as normally as possible.
Recovering compensation in a personal injury claim can pay for various expenses including nursing care. A claimant will be entitled to recover the cost of paid care provided such costs are reasonably incurred and reasonable in amount. A claimant can also recover damages in respect of gratuitous care provided by a family member or friend, the principle being that the claimant theoretically holds on trust the award for care, for the voluntary carer.
A claimant is also able to recover the private costs of medical treatment even if that treatment is available from the NHS. Often obtaining the treatment privately will be quicker than having to wait on a NHS waiting list. Where a personal injury claim is made, all treatment costs will have to be supported by an independent medical expert who will examine the claimant and prepare a medical report for use within the claim. Those claimants who have suffered severe injury may also claim for alternative accommodation or adaptations to an existing home.
The aim of the London 2012 Paralympics is to inspire a new generation. Although there will continue to be accidents which cause severe injuries, the hope is that individuals will see from the recent games that physical disability does not prevent achievement. For those injured in accidents as a result of someone else’s negligence, a personal injury claim can provide vital compensation to assist an injured person on their road to recovery and in some cases will hopefully create more Paralympic athletes for the future who may even surpass the remarkable achievements of the London 2012 British team.