Association of Personal Injury Lawyers
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Blog: The rebooted Rehabilitation Code, explained

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The rebooted Rehabilitation Code, explained
Neil Sugarman | 17 Nov 2015

I am fairly sure that most dedicated personal injury lawyers are pretty fed up with being called “ambulance chasers”. We know that although our objective is to obtain fair compensation for our injured clients, the idea is that this will, so far as possible, help them to get back to some form of normality.

The first version of the Rehabilitation Code came about as long ago as 1999 and was then updated in 2007. We now have the Rehabilitation Code 2015 and it is an important tool in the toolkit of all personal injury lawyers. For those not familiar with what it is all about, the time has come to learn and make use of it because of the immense potential benefit to all clients no matter what the severity of their injury.

The 2015 Code is a much expanded version of those which came before it. The injured client is put at the centre of the process and the need for rehabilitation is addressed as a priority. The claimant’s lawyer and compensator are to work together on a collaborative basis to address the injured claimant’s needs from the very beginning, with an expected early notification of the claim and exchange of information.

The Code, unlike its predecessors, is designed in a way which addresses the differing considerations that might apply to injuries of different complexity, specifically those valued at less than £25,000, medium, and catastrophic injuries. That being said, there is recognition that even injuries in which the financial values are low might be life changing.

Rehabilitation having been recognised as a priority, time frames are set out in the Code and there are provisions designed to ensure that an assessment of needs is carried out by somebody suitably qualified. The way in which that is done will again be dictated by the severity of the injury and the needs.

Although it is possible for the assessor or indeed any subsequently appointed case manager to be instructed jointly, the claimant through their representative has the ultimate say, as claimant practitioners will rightly wish, and the claimant is not obliged to undergo any recommended treatment.

There is an accompanying guide to the appointment of case managers, which is technically not part of the Code, and appointed case managers are to seek to work proactively with NHS clinicians.

The compensator pays for agreed rehabilitation needs and is able to justify a refusal to follow reasonable recommendations. There may be a battleground there. It is intended that the principles of the Code will apply throughout the lifetime of the case, compared to earlier versions which concentrated very much on what happens at the outset.

APIL is doing its very best through initiatives such as the Rehabilitation Code and the Guide to the Conduct of Cases Involving Serious Injury to show that claimant lawyers are prepared to be collaborative in order to do the most important thing; that is to act in the best interests of our injured clients. It is to be hoped that insurers and their lawyers with whom we have worked hard to put these mechanisms in place work with us to adhere to their spirit. The time has come for APIL members to embrace and make use of them so we can show that collaboration is not for want of trying on our part. Perhaps then, that “ambulance chasing” label might somehow find its way into the bin when people realise what we really do for injured people – help them to put their lives back on track.                         

Past blog entries

Effects of a change in the discount rate: what happens when a review is expected? , 16 Dec 2020
Three per cent drop in premiums does not reflect massive insurer savings, 09 Nov 2020
What help is out there for families when someone is injured?, 02 Nov 2020
Blindly heading into the unknown for injured people?, 09 Dec 2019
Lessons in looking after one another , 18 Nov 2019
‘Fake claims’ or ‘fake news’?, 06 Nov 2019
The tide of public opinion is turning against insurers, 15 Oct 2019
Time for a joined-up strategy to prevent medical negligence, 23 Sep 2019

About this blog

Neil Sugarman

Neil Sugarman is APIL's current president and is managing partner of GLP Solicitors in Bury. Neil has been involved closely in APIL’s work in the field of rehabilitation.