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Lockdown denies crash victims access to rehabilitation and justice, says RoadPeace

Road collision victims charity RoadPeace is reporting that lockdown has negatively impacted crash victims because of court closures, over-stretched police, and social-distancing measures.

27 August 2020

Cases have been delayed and crash victims have had difficulties in accessing rehabilitation and support, they say.
 
Now RoadPeace has launched a regional Legal Panel for London and the South East which includes Leigh Day.
 
Whilst lockdown reduced the number of vehicles on London’s roads in particular, people continued to be killed and injured.
 
RoadPeace says personal injury solicitors have noted that there remained a high number of serious injury collisions, as empty roads saw speeds escalate. Despite a reduced number of vehicles on London’s roads, there was a 71 per cent increase in drivers caught speeding when lockdown started.
 
Those that became victims of crashes during or just before the pandemic were faced with a set of challenges that could not have been foreseen and have had serious consequences for their recovery. RoadPeace’s survey of its legal panel members, has uncovered serious challenges brought about by the pandemic.
 
For seriously injured victims who have had to be in hospital, their experience is reported to have been much more frightening and alienating than it would otherwise have been. Full PPE had to be worn by NHS staff. Equally many further surgeries that crash victims needed have been delayed; causing longer stays in hospital and longer recovery times.
 
The ban on visitors has added to patients’ stress, says RoadPeace. The psychological impact of months in hospital without seeing friends and family is reported to be significant.
 
RoadPeace members have said:
 
"Normally I would've gone to see my friends when I was feeling particularly lonely after my husband died. Not having anywhere to go to and fill my day has been very difficult”
 
"I feel completely alone. My daughter would usually help me with all the paperwork and legal issues around my husband's death but she has health issues & is self-isolating.  Now without any IT skills I’m having to do this on my own and I can't cope"
 
Due to social distancing measures, criminal courts and the Coroners Courts have not been open. This has led to cases being delayed for months on end. It has been estimated that trial backlogs in the magistrates’ courts increased by 41 per cent between the beginning of March and the end of May; in the crown court, the estimated increase was 53 per cent.
 
David Preston of Leigh Day, said:
 
“One of the biggest impacts that lockdown has had is in the delays in criminal trials of Defendant drivers. No jury trials took place for around three and a half months, which has resulted in a huge backlog in an already overloaded criminal justice system.
 
“And it’s likely there will be huge future delays which will continue to impact cases moving forwards. This inhibits criminal justice, but in some cases Defendants won’t consider rehabilitation for the injured party, until they have investigated liability and considered police reports. This has caused huge delays to some of my clients’ treatment and rehabilitation.”
 
Not only are some injured crash victims not receiving rehabilitation because civil claims are being pushed back due to the court backlog, those that do have the funds available are not getting the same treatment that they otherwise would have done, reports RoadPeace.
 
Psychologists, councillors, physiotherapists and occupational therapists have all been unable to see victims. Whilst adaptations have been made to hold therapies over video conferencing, it has not been possible to continue with a number of types of rehabilitation. NHS COVID-19 policies rendered it difficult to obtain hospital appointments, and private rehabilitation centres stopped accepting new clients. This meant that the most seriously injured crash victims - those with severe brain injuries - were unable to access the rehabilitation they vitally need.
 
RoadPeace’s regional legal panel is made up of vetted specialist personal injury solicitors.
Victims referred by RoadPeace to solicitors will be offered a regional firm.
 
Nick Simmons, RoadPeace CEO said:
 
“COVID-19 has affected us all, but it has hit crash victims particularly hard. Delays in justice and accessing rehabilitation has been tough on crash victims. It has always been vital for victims to have a specialist personal injury firm representing them, and the RoadPeace legal panel is made up of such firms."

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