Thursday, 17 April 2014

Fentons part of Slater & Gordon:- Exciting developments in spinal cord injury research

As a serious injury solicitor I have represented a number of clients who have sustained spinal cord injuries and have supported them through the court system. Beyond their injury, one thing which they have all had in common has been that having been told by their doctors that their paralysis is permanent, with the passage of time they have all adapted in a way which has shown off the best of human qualities. They have shown courage, dignity, adaptability and spirit to rebuild their lives such that they can rightly lead a happy, fulfilling and in many cases inspiring life.

But will specialist doctors who practice in the field of spinal cord injury always have to give such a negative prognosis to their patients? And will those who sustain spinal cord injury always have to face such devastating news about their future?

Recent research undertaken in the USA suggests perhaps not. The research which I am referring to has been in the press this month having recently been reported in the medical journal Brain.

In short, the research involved 4 paralysed participants who had complete spinal cord injuries ranging from C7–T5 and all of whom were at least two years post-injury at the time of the intervention. They each underwent epidural spinal cord stimulation and all demonstrated an ability to voluntarily move their hips, ankles and toes. They also displayed other improvements in their overall health, including increases in muscle mass and regulation of their blood pressure, as well as reduced fatigue and dramatic improvements to their sense of wellbeing.

The research has been described as groundbreaking. And although much further research must surely follow in order to bring real change to the spinally injured population at large, it challenges the belief that no functional recovery is possible.

And further, along with inventive and technical developments such as ReWalk, the exoskeleton mobility aid, research such as this must give hope to many that one day, they may be able once again to bear weight, balance and walk independently. And these developments will be all the more significant for future spinal cord injury patients.

As a lawyer who represents spinally injured individuals I keenly await yet further developments and must be vigilant as to whether progressive technology or treatment can benefit my clients. The law has it’s limitations but with the theory behind compensation payments being to put the injured party back in the position they would have been but for their injury (in-so-far as money can), surely these sorts of developments have the potential to help the law fulfil it’s own aim.

For more information about epidural stimulation studies and other spinal cord injury research,

Will Cornwell – Fentons Solicitors (part of Slater and Gordon Lawyers)
Associate Solicitor
Telephone – 020 7400 0225

Monday, 14 April 2014

Fentons part of Slater & Gordon: Will I , Won’t I? - The Importance of Making a Will

I just wanted to share with you something very tragic that happened recently.

One of our clients, whose claim for personal injuries sustained in an accident a few years ago and which settled at the end of last year, has sadly died suddenly.

He had sustained a spinal cord injury many years previously and the recent injuries had only served to make life that bit more difficult for him. The monies recovered through the claim were to assist in improving his quality of life and cover the cost of the additional care and equipment he was going to need in the future.

Our client was divorced but still on amicable terms with his ex-wife who was still involved in his day to day care. He had a daughter who he had not seen for many years and with whom he had no relationship.

During and at the end of the claim, it was suggested to our client that he make a will so that his estate would pass in accordance with his wishes in the event of his death. Unfortunately this never happened and he died intestate.

As his next of kin, his daughter now stands to inherit everything, including his house and the damages recovered from his claim, something which our client would not have wanted.

The importance of making a will cannot be underestimated. For very little cost, it ensures that provision is made for loved ones and monies and assets pass in line with the wishes of the person who has died.

Why let the law make this decision for you? Make a will now – before it’s too late.

For more information, please get in touch.

Deborah Johnson – Fentons Solicitors (part of Slater and Gordon Lawyers)
Principal Lawyer – Serious and Fatal Incidents
National Manager (Client Support Organisations) and National Practice Development Leader (Road Collision)
Telephone – 0844 854 3103

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Planning for the unexpected: A Lasting Power of Attorney

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document which allows you to appoint somebody else, or more than one person (the attorneys) to make decisions on your behalf regarding property and affairs or your Health and Welfare. These are two separate documents so you can have either one or both types of LPA. A LPA is usually used if you lose the ability to make your own decisions (capacity). However an LPA can be used, with your permission, even if you can make your own decisions. This means that if you are having a long stay in hospital you can appoint an attorney to deal with your affairs on a temporary basis.

A Heath and Welfare LPA allows you to appoint an attorney or attorneys to make decisions about your Health and Welfare if you are unable to make the decisions yourself. The decisions can include life sustaining treatment, care regime and diet. Specific permission needs to be given in respect of life sustaining treatment. An attorney can only act under a Health & Welfare LPA if you lose the ability to make your own decisions and the form has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.

One of the main advantages of an LPA is that it is prepared while you still have capacity so you can decide who you want to be your attorney or attorneys. You can also put restrictions on the LPA clarifying or limiting the attorney’s powers to act. This means that you can plan ahead for a time when you may be unable to deal with your affairs. Your attorney is also answerable to the Office of the Public Guardian and can be prosecuted if they do not act in your best interests

If the worse should happen and you find you lack capacity either due to dementia, an accident or medical complication it is much easier for your attorneys to act quickly if an LPA has been done. If there is no LPA any potential attorney will need to make an application to the Court of Protection to be appointed as your Deputy. This can be quite a long winded process, it is expensive and you will not have any control over who your Deputy is. In respect of a Health and Welfare LPA it is reassuring to know that if a decision has to be made and you cannot provide consent the parameters of any decisions an attorney can make has already been clearly considered at a time when you can carefully decide what powers you wish to give an attorney.

Katie Pendower Fentons Solicitors part of Slater & Gordon Telephone number 0844 854 3198