Counsel assessing care needs cannot take damages into account

A claimant with severe brain damage was likely to receive payments known as direct payments from the local authority towards his care costs. The Court of Appeal held that the capital sum represented by an award for personal injuries should not be into account by the local authority when a person is means tested.

However, the treatment of income arising from the award of damages was more problematic. The direct payments issue was remitted to the Judge for further consideration. The court also criticised the social security legislation in respect of its “complexity and labyrinthine nature”, saying that it should be clear and accessible.

Crofton -v- National Health Service Litigation Authority. Court of Appeal, 15 February 2007, Times Law Reports

Firefighter’s retirement date

The claimant suffered a back injury and underwent fusion surgery to his spine. The medical evidence was that the accident accelerated the onset of symptoms of a constitutional condition by 7-10 years. The underlying condition would have progressed to the stage when the claimant would have been unable to fulfil his duties as a fire fighter within 7-10 years. He was capable of sedentary work but permanently unfit as an operational fire fighter for any work involving a manual element.

The claimant’s employment was terminated on ill health grounds in 2002. No consideration was given to possible redeployment to a non-operational role, though the defendants conceded that possible redeployment would now be considered.

The claimant acquired new employment skills by attending university and began full time employment in November 2006.

As they conceded that they would have considered redeployment later when the claimant became unfit for operational duties, had the accident not happened, we were able to argue that there was a very real prospect of the claimant remaining in the fire service until normal retirement age, therefore acquiring full occupational pension entitlement.

The defendants had started by making an offer of £70,000. We eventually accepted the sixth offer of £210,000 shortly before trial.

Don’t forget to claim for fringe benefits

Remember that employers are required to prepare for all company directors and for each employee earning more than £8,500 per annum a form P11D and provide the employee with a copy. This is likely to set out details of fringe benefits e.g. mobile phones, share option scheme, company cars etc. So we should be checking with the client to see whether the client has any such fringe benefits and if so to ask for the P11D form either from the client or, if not available, from the employer.

There is a useful article on this by a forensic accountant Stewart Cowen in the February 2007 edition of the Personal Injury Law Journal.