Accommodation Needs And Inclusive Design
If you are dealing with a catastrophic injury claim, either as a lawyer or the individual who has suffered injuries or their representative, you will need to deal with complex accommodation needs.
An ordinary home is likely to be completely unsuitable for someone who has sustained a range of severe injuries, such as damage to the spinal cord, brain injury, or partial paralysis.
As the proprietor of Rectory Surveyors, I have extensive expertise in facilitating disability living and designing extensive property adaptations. I frequently provide comprehensive reports on the adaptations needed and what needs to be taken into account in making a legal claim for those who are in line for compensation. As a expert witness I have an in-depth understanding of home needs following major trauma. I provide accommodation needs assessments for individuals and personal injury solicitors, as well as a complete project management service.
If you have suffered significant injuries, you may want to stay in your home, even if it is currently unsuitable. Having the right adaptations means that you will not have to leave and that the whole space can be designed to make your life as easy as possible and help you and your carers with day-to-day tasks. Alternatively, if a different home is needed, this can be assessed to check that it has the best potential to be adapted successfully, for example, space for a lift or accommodation all on one level.
What Adaptations Can Be Made To A Home For Those With Catastrophic Injuries?
A wide range of adaptations can be made, depending on the individual’s needs, and the first step is generally to decide whether the existing property can be adapted or whether it will be necessary to move house. It is often the case that moving is necessary to secure the space needed. The individual will generally need the input of those helping with their medical and physiotherapy needs as well as an experienced disability adaptations expert in establishing exactly what must be provided.
Adaptations that are commonly made include:
Wheelchair access to the property
Space to park undercover at the property to allow easy wheelchair access
Hard floors and widened doorways for wheelchair movement
Space within the home to turn a wheelchair and park a wheelchair
Lowering kitchen units
Installing a wet room that meets disability design safety standards
Hoists for helping in the bathroom and bedroom
Space for exercise, therapy, and equipment storage
At Rectory Surveyors, we work with medical and therapy professionals to establish an individual’s needs. We can put together a detailed and fully costed report setting out all requirements, from minor to major works. As well as disability assessments, we offer a complete end-to-end property adaptation service, from tender to project management. For those still seeking compensation, we provide expert witness reports for use in court.
Making Accommodation Claims In Personal Injury Cases
The cost of moving and adapting a home is likely to be substantial. In a personal injury claim, part of the compensation will be in respect of accommodation. If a claim for alternative accommodation is supported by medical experts in the case, then the next step is to look at available properties and the potential costs of both the property and the adaptation works that will be needed. An expert in disability adaptation for catastrophic injuries will need to be used to satisfy the court that the figures are realistic and based on current likely costs.
The Role Of A Disability Property Adaptation expert
The expert will need to prepare a report listing the work that will be reasonably required for a property to make it suitable for use by the claimant. It will also be necessary to identify suitable properties. Where a single-storey dwelling is required, it could take some time to find somewhere with the potential to be effectively adapted to meet all needs.
How Much Can Be Claimed For Adapting A Home For Use After Catastrophic Injury?
The courts aim to award compensation that will put the claimant in the financial position they would have been in but for their injuries. Buying a new property for them that is likely to be substantially more expensive means that the individual might potentially profit from what has happened, as they then own a more valuable asset than they did before.
In addition, the property is likely to increase in value over time. With a more expensive property, the increase will be more substantial. However, if the claimant is not given enough to move and adapt a property for their needs, they will be disadvantaged by the accident. For a while, the court limited claims by basing accommodation calculations on the amount of interest that the claimant would lose on their investments if they had to tie their money up in their home. This usually meant that individuals did not have enough compensation to buy the property they needed, however, and they were forced to use money intended for care and equipment to purchase a home. This then left them short of funds in later years.
At one point, the courts started basing calculations on the premise that over time the value of investments would diminish and so losses in investment income were based on only a few years’ of income. This left claimants unable to request funds to purchase the home they needed. The law finally changed in 2020, when the Court of Appeal in the case of Swift v Carpenter said that a claimant should be entitled to extra funds to buy a suitable property, although not the whole cost. A deduction was made from the cost of the home to reflect the interest the claimant was calculated to receive on the more expensive asset.
The case involved severe injuries to Ms Swift after a road traffic accident, including amputation of her leg below the knee. She was assessed as needing adapted housing that would cost £900,000 more than her existing home was worth. The court calculated the interest on this at a rate of 5% for her expected remaining lifetime. This sum of just over £98,000 was deducted from the £900,000, giving her an accommodation award of just under £802,000.
The Current Position For Claimants Needing Adapted Accommodation
This means that claimants can currently secure a substantial contribution towards the accommodation they may need after catastrophic injuries. Having an expert assessment is crucial, to ensure that sufficient money is claimed to provide the right home so that the individual’s day-to-day living is as easy as possible.
At Rectory Surveyors, we provide the following services:
If you are dealing with a catastrophic injury claim or you would like advice on home adaptations for disability, call and speak to us today on 020 7249 4954 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, fill out our contact form and we will respond shortly.
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