Managing Compensation for Cerebral Palsy

When a child receives compensation from a medical negligence cerebral palsy claim, we ensure that their compensation is both protected and accessible to meet their needs, now and in the future. From the moment we prove liability in a cerebral palsy claim for a child, teenager or vulnerable adult, we put in place safeguards to help them protect and maximise the benefit they will receive from their compensation throughout their life.

A large interim payment, final settlement or court award of compensation enables our clients to begin to maximise their life opportunities and reduce their reliance on family members. We support our client families through the adjustments and changes that come with a compensation settlement and the new responsibility of managing a lifetime of provision for a disabled child.  

What should cerebral palsy compensation be used for?

Compensation settlements in cerebral palsy claims aim to meet the injured person’s additional needs, for the rest of their life, that have been caused by the disability.  Compensation that is received at any stage of the claim, including interim payments, lump sum settlements or annual ‘PPO’ payments, should always be used in the best interests of the child, teenager or adult, to provide the support that they need as a result of their injury.

Compensation for cerebral palsy often helps pay for:

•            care, case management and support;

•            private medical treatment, particularly if not available on the NHS;

•            therapies, such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy (OT) and speech and language therapy (SALT);

•            SEN educational support; 

•            additional costs of a home that is suitable for the client’s disability;

•            specialist equipment and assistive technology;

•            accessible and adapted vehicles.

Helping you manage your child’s cerebral palsy compensation

Our friendly and approachable legal team of cerebral palsy and deputyship specialists advise, guide and support each family through every step of this process. Our team are specialists in their fields and highly experienced in advising clients in managing compensation in cerebral palsy claims. We are ranked for our Court of Protection work by top client guide the Legal 500, reflecting our leading expertise in this complex area of law.

How is my child’s cerebral palsy compensation looked after?

Families of children or teenagers who are claiming compensation for cerebral palsy or neurodevelopmental disability often worry about how they or their child will manage their compensation at the end of a successful claim. We reassure our client families that they and their child will receive the highest level of specialist guidance and support in managing the compensation fund.

In cerebral palsy claims, we put in place one of two safeguards, depending on what is best for the child, which invest, manage and protect the fund whilst ensuring that money is available as needed to pay for necessary expenses such as care, therapies, medical treatments, equipment and other costs arising from their disability.

The way in which the compensation will be managed depends on the child’s likely mental capacity and level of vulnerability at the age of 18.  

  • If the child is not likely to have capacity at the age of 18 to manage their compensation we ask the Court of Protection to appoint a deputy to make financial decisions in the child’s best interests.
  • If the child is likely to have mental capacity at the age of 18 but remains vulnerable as a result of physical, emotional or behavioural disability we can help the family create a personal injury trust to hold and manage the compensation.

If the child’s future mental capacity is not clear when an interim payment or compensation settlement is made, the law (set out in the Mental Capacity Act 2005) presumes they will have capacity at the age of 18 unless and until later medical evidence changes that assessment. In these circumstances, the compensation is paid into a personal injury trust and can be transferred to a deputyship later if needed.

A deputyship or personal injury trust provides peace of mind that the vulnerable individual is protected throughout their entire life with professional management of their compensation.

What is Court of Protection deputyship?

The Court of Protection is a specialist court which makes decisions for people who lack mental capacity, as defined by the Mental Capacity Act 2005. This includes people with impaired mental capacity caused by cerebral palsy brain injury and other forms of severe neurological disability.

In cases where our client is expecting compensation but has cerebral palsy which means that they will lack mental capacity as an adult, the law requires us to ask the Court of Protection to appoint a deputy who will be able to make financial decisions on their behalf. The Court of Protection decides whether the child or adult has mental capacity, based on medical evidence, and will only appoint a deputy if they find the individual lacks the capacity to make their own decisions.

What does a deputy do?

Once appointed, the deputy has the legal authority to make decisions about how the individual’s finances are managed. The Court of Protection may also make orders which cover decisions about the individual’s health and welfare.

Our deputies work closely with the family to make decisions that are in the best interests of the child, teenager or adult with cerebral palsy. The deputy also protects and invests the client’s compensation fund, while ensuring that money remains easily accessible to provide for the needs of the disabled person.  

As with personal injury trusts, cerebral palsy claim compensation which is managed by a Court of Protection deputy does not affect the disabled person’s entitlement to means-tested welfare benefits.

Deputyship provides peace of mind for our clients with cerebral palsy and their families by:

  • managing the client’s finances in a professional way;
  • supporting the family in the buying, selling or adaptation of property for the disabled person;
  • recruiting and working closely with case managers and carers;
  • working with financial advisers so that funds are safely and securely invested;
  • managing the routine day-to-day administration of the disabled person’s finances, such as paying household bills, carer’s invoices and other expenses associated with the client’s disability;
  • relieving the family of the worry that is sometimes associated with being responsible for a large sum of money. Our clients tell us that knowing that their child’s money is professionally protected brings a sense of security and peace of mind.

Are deputies supervised?

Yes. Professional deputies are appointed by the Court of Protection and must comply with standards set by the Office of the Public Guardian.  They are required by law to act in the best interests of the person who lacks mental capacity.  In doing so they must also consider the views of anyone else who is involved in the person’s welfare. In practise, this means that we discuss decisions with the child’s parents or other key family members.

When is a deputy needed?

In a cerebral palsy claim for a child, teenager or adult who lacks mental capacity, a deputy should be appointed as soon as an interim payment is received, to ensure that the funds are properly managed. 

We advise our client families and help them apply to the Court of Protection for a deputy to be appointed. Our deputy then guides and supports the family through the deputyship process as well as any further paperwork, reporting and communication with the Court of Protection.  

How does deputyship work?

There are two types of Court of Protection deputyship:

  • ‘Property and Financial Affairs Deputyship’ allows a deputy to manage a person’s finances, including any compensation they have received.
  • ‘Personal Welfare Deputyship’ allows the deputy to make decisions about someone’s medical treatment and care. This type of deputyship order is less commonly made, as the Court of Protection prefers health decisions to be made by healthcare professionals in the best interests of the patient, or by an application to the court for a decision related to a specific event, such as an operation.

When a deputy is appointed, various ongoing legal obligations will need to be met, including providing annual accounts to the court and putting a security bond in place.

How can Boyes Turner help with deputyship?

Our specialist team have guided hundreds of families with compensation from cerebral palsy claims through Court of Protection deputyship. We can help with:

  • applying for deputyship by a parent and/or a solicitor;
  • carrying out deputyship duties, such as record keeping, making decisions, paying bills and providing accounts to the Court of Protection;
  • applying to the Court of Protection in specific matters, such as buying and selling property, or making or amending statutory wills.

What is a personal injury trust?

A personal injury trust is a legally binding arrangement which holds the compensation from an injury claim (such as a cerebral palsy claim) for the injured person.

Who can benefit from a personal injury trust?

Personal injury trusts are suitable for injured clients who have mental capacity but may be vulnerable to outside influences owing to their disability, young age or simply because they have a large sum of money from their compensation claim.

When a vulnerable person receives compensation from their claim, the money is usually intended for specific purposes, such as to cover the costs of care, medical treatment, therapies or home adaptations, now and in the future, whilst also compensating them for being unable to work and earn an income. A personal injury trust prevents inappropriate use of the money by placing it under the control of trustees who manage how the money is used to ensure that it is used in the vulnerable person’s best interests.

Another advantage of a personal injury trust is that the injured person whose compensation is held by the trust (known as the beneficiary) does not lose their entitlement to means-tested state benefits. This is because compensation that is held in a personal injury trust is not taken into account when the beneficiary’s finances are assessed for state benefits.

How do personal injury trusts work?

How a trust works will depend on how the document that establishes the trust is written. This document is known as a trust deed. A personal injury trust is usually set up to last for the lifetime of the person with cerebral palsy (the beneficiary) but the beneficiary will have the option of bringing it to an end when they reach 18 or any time after this if they wish to manage their funds directly.

A personal injury trust usually has two or more trustees who are in charge of managing the funds. The trustees can be anyone over the age of 18, but will typically be the parents or other trusted, close family members of the beneficiary. If there is a large compensation fund then we advise that a solicitor should act as a professional trustee to ensure that the trust is managed effectively and complies with all of the relevant rules and regulations.

Can Boyes Turner help me set up a personal injury trust?

Our team of medical negligence and deputyship legal specialists are highly experienced in helping families and individuals with cerebral palsy prepare practically and financially for life after their cerebral palsy claim has come to an end.

We can help with:

•            advice on the best option for managing and protecting a compensation fund;

•            advice on benefits after a compensation award;

•            setting up a personal injury trust;

•            independent and unbiased advice for trustees and beneficiaries;

•            acting as professional trustees.

We ensure that personal injury trusts for our clients are set up and managed in the best way to provide financial security and meet their ongoing needs.

They have a great deal of knowledge and expertise, and client care seems to be their top priority.

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