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Things You Should Know in the Event of a Serious Injury
Things you should know in the event that a serious injury occurs to you or your loved one that no one talks about.
You Will Be In Shock
If you or your family member is seriously injured both you and your loved one will be in shock. And it may last a lot longer than you can imagine. Having a spouse, child, sibling, or parent, who has suffered a serious injury like a traumatic brain injury or quadriplegia is a tragedy and there will be an adjustment period. At first, there is some relief that the loved one has survived. And then there is disbelief as to the extent of the injuries and potentially some denial about the permanence of those impairments.
Adrenaline is high and you may feel that you’ve got this, things will be fine, it’s only temporary. This is a normal reaction as it takes time to process these things. Some people take much longer than others and that’s okay. The truth is you will be okay, you do have this, it’s just going to be a difficult adjustment period to the new normal.
You and Your Loved Ones Will Be On a Whole New Journey
Life as you know it will be gone, at least temporarily if not indefinitely. In the beginning, it will be weeks to months in hospital, potentially rehabilitation homes or hospitals after that, and it generally takes many months of rehabilitation before you or your loved one will be able to return home. When you or your loved one has returned home, around the clock care is generally required. Options have to be weighed and decisions will have to be made as to who will provide that care. Will it be you? Will you quit your job to do it? Will you hire outside help? Can you afford that?
Once these difficult decisions are made and a hospital discharge plan has been created the injured person will be doing many different kinds of treatment. This can feel very overwhelming to you or your injured loved one. Each day will typically have numerous rehabilitation or medical appointments and that can feel exhausting.
Depending on how the injuries occurred there will be insurance to cover some of the expenses and, if not, the family will have to support the injured person until compensation can be recovered through a lawsuit if someone else was at fault for the injuries. If the injuries were caused as a result of a car accident then there will be some funding available regardless of fault.
In most cases, your home will also have to be modified to accommodate the limitations caused by the injuries. This can include modifications to the outside of your home for handrails or ramps and similar modifications made internally to allow for safe movement within the home.
The road to recovery takes years, not months, in most cases and the hardest part of dealing with these severe injuries is that you or your loved one will not likely recover to be the person that existed before.
You Cannot Weather the Storm Alone
There will be big emotions from everyone in the family. There will be frustration, anger, sadness, loss, resentment, pity, love, and success. There will be tears, arguments, losses, and victories on the path towards recovery.
Whether you are the injured party or their loved one, you cannot navigate this alone. Family members often have a very difficult time adjusting to the new normal but are often forgotten about. Help is available to you and you should utilize it. There are support groups, there are counsellors and a whole host of other services available to the injured person and for their families. Emotional support for caregivers is so very important in dealing with this kind of trauma. To maximize recovery outcomes, everyone needs to heal.
A Power of Attorney Will Save You a Huge Amount of Time and Potentially Money
A power of attorney is something most will not think about until they need it and in many cases that means it’s too late. This is a legal document where you have provided someone else with the ability to make decisions on your behalf. If you have been in a serious accident and have sustained a brain injury, you will not be able to make decisions on your own behalf, you will not be able to apply for and obtain the necessary benefits you would be entitled to and you would not be able to instruct legal counsel.
If there is no power of attorney in place and the injured person does not have the capacity, a Guardian of Property and Care will have to be appointed by the courts. This can take months to get properly in place and will require legal filings. This can be a large hassle during a very stressful time. One that is easily avoided by ensuring you have a will and power of attorney set up at all times.
Choosing an Injury Lawyer is Difficult
Finally, one thing that doesn’t seem to get a lot of attention is how difficult and stressful it can be to find a personal injury lawyer when a tragedy has occurred. This will arguably one of the most stressful times in your life and in the midst of it all you are supposed to go out and find a qualified injury lawyer that you can trust. There are ads everywhere and you know nothing about choosing a lawyer. Well, here is my advice on finding a lawyer that is right for you.
If you know a lawyer, or have a lawyer for other areas of law like business, wills, or real -estate, ask them for a referral. They likely know a reputable personal injury lawyer. If you don’t have a lawyer connection, do some research. There are a lot of flashy ads but they don’t necessarily speak to how well that lawyer communicates, their experience, or their personality. Most lawyers will offer a free consultation. Utilize that. But do not fall victim to high-pressure sales tactics. If a lawyer is trying hard to convince you that they should be your lawyer or they are putting pressure on you to sign paperwork, that should raise a red flag for you.
Things you can ask during a phone or in-person consultation can include:
- Where the office is located as it is not always clear from websites or ads (you don’t want to spend hours travelling to make office visits)
- How often will you get to meet with your lawyer (some firms this can be very seldom if at all)
- How will you be charged for legal services
- What that lawyer intends to do for you immediately and in the long term
- Do not be afraid to ask about the lawyer’s experience with similar cases
A good fit for a lawyer is a very personal decision. You have to feel comfortable and confident in the lawyer. You and your loved one are about to embark on a long, difficult journey and you should have a lawyer that you can trust and depend on. Your lawyer should espouse integrity and competency.
When trying to come to terms with tragedy, this is the last thing you are going to want to have to deal with. However, finding a reputable and experienced injury lawyer as soon as possible is recommended to ensure you or your loved one are protecting all your legal rights.
This article was written by Personal Injury Lawyer Catherine Shearer, working from both our Guelph Ontario and London Ontario offices.