If the injury is a traumatic brain injury, all of the following reasons are twice as important; patients cannot recover alone, and must rely upon family to look after things while they concentrate on healing.
1. To provide peace of mind so the family can concentrate and devote all their time and attention to the patient’s other needs.
2. To provide advice on any of the numerous issues which may arise (and usually do) concerning insurance benefits and post-hospital care.
3. To promptly investigate circumstances of the injury, including locating witnesses, and to prevent the destruction of physical evidence for later consideration. Witnesses’ memories are ephemeral; they tend to forget.
- They also tend to be most helpful to the person who first speaks to them. Witnesses may disappear after a few days or weeks. Insurance companies’ investigators may locate witnesses and obtain evidence but will not make this information available to the injured person- it is only used for their own purposes.
- If a motor vehicle collision is involved, motor vehicles themselves may soon be repaired or crushed, which eliminates all possible evidence from those vehicles. Skid marks disappear quickly and cannot be investigated.
4. To ensure various benefits are claimed promptly, and to make sure that where there are conflicts between benefits, decisions are made so that an election to take one benefit does not eliminate the right to another benefit.Typical benefits will include motor vehicle insurance, Part 7, UIC, WCB, CPP, social assistance, private insurance and out-of-province non-residents’ issues.
- Each of these claims has subtleties, dos and don’ts, and there may be elections, deadlines, pitfalls, conflicts. The family of someone who is seriously injured may feel obliged to provide information which may not be correct and which may result in long-term losses or ineligibility.
5. To act as an advocate to ensure that rehab planning, and post-hospital discharge, planning commences. Of course, not everyone follows a clear post-acute rehabilitation path, particularly with traumatic brain injury, and a longer-term view and/or case manager should be put in place soon, thus ensuring the smooth transition to another facility or to private home support with the proper funding. The correct lawyer will assist with the above and provide continuity, because he/she is there for the long term.
6. For protection. Seriously injured people, particularly those who are suffering traumatic brain injuries, and their families, need protection from outside agents who may appear to offer assistance but have a different long term agenda. As well, there may be competency issues which should be considered, likewise, offering protection for someone who is seriously injured.