We are frequently appointed to act as Property and Affairs Deputies for children who have sustained serious injuries or mismanagement at birth. Our clients have often sustained life changing injuries which significantly impact on their daily lives and the lives of those involved in their immediate care.
Many of our clients have instructed a solicitor to bring a claim against a negligent NHS trust or other medical professional where their child has suffered an injury arising from negligent care or treatment. Parents of the injured child are frequently dealing with a litigation claim alongside caring for someone who is physically and mentally disabled. They frequently have other children to care for and they find it difficult to cope with the additional pressures and trauma cause by their child’s injury.
Our clients’ injuries are often so complex that funding is released to the injured child on account of their damages claim to help pay for their care. These funds are known as an “interim payments” and will form part of what is usually a much larger damages award.
It is extremely important that any such funds are properly managed and accounted for. We are frequently asked to manage interim payments that are in excess of £500,000 and up to £1m. Many of our clients require 24-hour care teams and the cost of care can be several hundred thousand pounds a year.
As Deputies, we are authorised by the Court of Protection to take receipt of the funds and apply them for an injured child’s benefit. That will include paying for care, employing staff, paying for equipment, buying specially adapted vehicles, making adaptations at a property and ensuring that our clients housing needs are met.
We also have a duty to maximise our clients’ income by ensuring that our clients are receiving all of the welfare benefits and statutory services funding that they are entitled to. In some circumstances, we can help financially support the wider family unit or parents who may have given up paid employment to look after their injured child.
We work closely with the solicitors progressing the claim to ensure that all future care needs can be properly costed and that we spend funds in a sustainable way that meets the needs of the child both now, but also well in to adulthood. We can manage all the accounting requirements both to the Court of Protection and to the litigators working on the claim. It is important to note that the cost of a professional Deputy can usually be recovered within a damages claim minimizing the risk of financial worries that the family might have by working with a professional.
Having a professional Deputy involved at the outset of a damages claim is essential. It often takes away much of the pressure from the family in dealing with and coordinating many of the financial matters associated with their child’s care. Where a substantial damages award is envisaged, the Court of Protection often prefers to see a professional Deputy appointed due to our significant experience in managing large funds for disabled or vulnerable individuals.