The role of a case manager is very important when working with individuals who have sustained a brain injury. Their role includes coordinating the services, treatment and rehabilitation required in order to meet the individual’s needs. This will cover areas such as their health, care, social, employment and educational needs.
Case managers can be instructed either by the Claimant (the person who has been injured) or on a joint basis by both the Claimant and the Defendant. The instructions are usually made by their legal representatives.
A case manager will be responsible for carrying out an initial assessment of the individual’s needs and goals and instructing a team of therapists to work with the individual so that they can achieve the goals that they have identified.
The main goal of the legal team, along with the case manager and therapy team, is to assist the individual to improve their quality of life to the best of their ability in relation to the injuries that they have sustained. The whole team will be working towards the same mutual goal but each have a different role to play.
Case managers will often be the main contact with the injured individual and it is vital that they build up a relationship of trust both with the injured person and often also with their family and close friends to promote this ongoing relationship. The case manager should have a good knowledge of how the rest of the team is working together and keep this under review, ensuring that changes are made when needed. They will need to keep up to date with how the rehabilitation is progressing. This will involve reflecting on what is working well and what needs to be changed. They will also need to identify any additional needs as the support and rehabilitation package progresses.
The aim of a personal injury claim is to restore an injured individual to the position that they would have been in had the accident not occurred in the first place. The compensation that is awarded to the individual will be based on evidence gained throughout the claim to comment upon their reasonable needs. The evidence will look at both the past and future needs. This evidence will include documentary evidence, witness evidence and expert evidence.
The case manager’s notes are very important documentary evidence. Funds will often be provided by the Defendant as the case progresses by means of an interim payment. The legal representative will need to be aware as to how these funds are being spent and the justification for this.
In claims where the individual has been seriously injured, this process can often take a number of years to progress. There can be a number of witnesses involved and many independent experts both with a medical background, such as a neurologist or a neuropsychologist and also from non-medical backgrounds, such as an occupational therapist or a physiotherapist. The legal representative will instruct these experts as part of the case and provide information about what has happened as well as the current position. This is to make sure that the experts have all of the information they require in order to prepare their report. They will usually be asked to comment on the reasonableness of the rehabilitation package in place and whether they agree with the input. A case manager working with the individual will often obtain a lot of really helpful information which will assist the legal representative to progress the claim and keep them up to date with the current position.
Communication is therefore vital. The role of a case manager and the legal representative will often overlap. It is important that a case manager and the legal representative regularly discuss any issues or updates and an open and collaborative relationship is favoured. The legal representative will require regular update reports which should review the current goals in place with the individual and also set any new goals to be worked towards. Detailed records will be very helpful in an ongoing personal injury claim. These are needed to evidence what the case manager and therapy team have been supporting the individual with and review any progress made. The records will provide the legal representative with information from “the ground” as to how the individual is progressing and help to resolve any issues if and when they arise.
The case manager should arrange regular review meetings with the whole team, this is called a multi-disciplinary meeting or “MDT”. These meetings are crucial to make sure that the team are all working together to promote progression towards the goals identified. The legal representative will often attend these meetings, again to gain information. Whilst the legal representative will often discuss the rehabilitation with the case manager and the costs involved in pursuing the recommendations, it is the case manager’s role to put forward the recommendations and manage the rehabilitation package effectively as they see fit in their professional capacity.
The injured person is at the centre of this whole process for both the legal team and the case manager. Litigation can be very stressful and provoke further anxiety and so by working together, they can offer the best standard of service and ensure that the injured person is able to benefit from bespoke rehabilitation as soon as possible in order to aid their recovery and build on their quality of life for the future.
About the author
Sarah Downs is a Solicitor in the Sheffield Serious Injury Team at Irwin Mitchell. Sarah specialises in dealing with brain injury and spinal cord injury cases. Sarah works extremely hard to secure funding for her clients as early as possible in their claims to ensure that they have access to rehabilitation to allow them to make the best recovery possible and to support their families.
About Irwin Mitchell
Brain Injury Group member firm Irwin Mitchell are a national law firm whose solicitors work hard to make things easier for their clients and their family. Over the past 2 years they have helped clients recover more than £1 billion in compensation, but this is only part of the story, their solicitors also help clients access the rehabilitation, medical care and support needed to achieve the best recovery possible.
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