Suffering a serious injury is devastating for the individual involved and while their immediate needs and rehabilitation is paramount, it’s crucial to similarly support their carer - often a spouse or partner - who has also had their world turned upside down.
Carers play a central role in the recovery process, not just with physical assistance but also in limiting the isolation and disconnection the injured person is experiencing.
We discuss the impacts of injury on carers.
Tough but important responsibility
Maurice Blackburn Serious Injury Team Principal Tanya Straguszi said caring can often be a frustrating but necessary responsibility.
“Being a carer is extremely tough - having to see a loved one go through a really difficult time when they are at their most vulnerable.”
“Carers are there to support throughout the process and ensure the injured person is getting the treatment and rehabilitation they need to get some normality back in their lives.
“Unfortunately it can feel like there is no end in sight - particularly in the early stages of rehab - so it’s our role to ensure we’re communicating closely with the client and the carer to ensure they feel supported as well.”
Support services are critical for carers
With many catastrophic accidents occurring each year, early advanced assistance plays a big part of the arduous recovery process.
For that reason it’s crucial funding, support services and household assistance are organised as a priority not long after the injury occurs.
“We look at a whole myriad of potential avenues for that person to get access to funding because we recognise early intervention and good rehabilitation gives them the best possible chance of recovery and restoring dignity back to their lives,” Tanya said.
“When a serious injury occurs, we work closely with the carer to consider all potential legal avenues relevant to their loved one's injury, and we also engage experts early to determine what essential support services the client may need when discharged from hospital.”
Rights for carers
While personal injury claims cover damages suffered by the individual, in some cases partners may also be entitled to a loss of consortium claim which covers the loss of companionship and at-home assistance they were previously receiving.
If the injury is serious enough to reach a statutory threshold the partner of an injured person can make this separate claim which recognises and compensates the spouse for the significant impact on their life moving forward.
If you are taking care of a loved one going through a catastrophic injury, we encourage you to seek legal advice on your options.
The Serious Injuries team in Queensland supports more than 130 clients including people suffering ABI and spinal cord injuries.