Fleet News

Accidents: coping with the aftermath

LIKE ripples on a pond, the effects of road traffic accidents continue long after the crash itself.

Months and even years after the debris is cleared from the Tarmac, the vehicles repaired, and the insurance claims settled, the drivers and passengers involved can still be recovering from the physical injuries and mental trauma of the event.

They may also be facing a barrage of unfamiliar issues, including anxiety about the future, uncertainty about their return to work, potential financial hardship and court proceedings, while coping with physical pain.

And they will also come into contact with insurers, lawyers, hospitals, social workers, self-help groups and even retraining programmes.

This is an area where a growing number of employers are now playing a greater role in helping injured staff, while at the same time facing ever greater pressure to take full responsibility for employees who drive on business.

The rehabilitation of injured employees is also the core business of ReIntra, a medical and occupational consultancy that provides a rehabilitation and reintegration service for about 200 people a year who are injured in traffic accidents or accidents at work.

Its principal business lies in cases where there is a prospect of a long-term disability and its fees are charged to the insurer of the third party responsible for the accident.

Heather Ridge, managing director of ReIntra, said: 'The good news is that employers, insurers and solicitors are seeing rehabilitation as the way forward and demand for these services is increasing.

'In addition to receiving the best medical care, the injured person should also have his or her social and domestic needs and future prospects carefully evaluated and co-ordinated to ensure that as far as is possible they are reintegrated into society and work.'

Speed of involvement is also an important element, with ReIntra suggesting the chances of successful rehabilitation are greatly increased if the programme starts within six months of an incident.

Ridge claims that after a serious accident an injured person can feel 'abandoned and confused about the future,' and says that ReIntra works with the injured party as the principal point of contact, co-ordinating links with other organisations and primary care providers.

'Poorly planned, ineffective rehabilitation can make costs rise. This is especially so when expensive medical treatment is not co-ordinated, where an injured person requires long term care, or when inappropriate retraining prevents a person from returning to work,' she said.

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