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It is not unusual in personal injury cases where a claim is made on behalf of a person who has suffered life-changing injuries for the courts to acknowledge the devotion and selflessness of family members who care for their disabled loved ones without expecting anything in return.
In a recent ruling, however, the Court of Protection sanctioned payment of a £23,000-a-year carer's allowance to a man who had given up his professional career in order to look after his incapacitated sister.
The sister had been awarded a compensation package worth millions from the NHS following allegedly negligent brain surgery. The operation had not cured the epilepsy which she had suffered from since infancy and left her suffering from profound memory loss, impaired decision making and intermittent psychosis.
Her younger brother, aged in his 50s and a father of two, had given up his well-paid job in order to work full time as her carer and case manager. However, a difficulty arose because he also acted as her official deputy, bearing responsibility for managing her financial affairs. Thousands of family carers in that position are not allowed to profit from the role which they perform and must always ensure that their personal interests do not conflict with their duties.
In a ruling which gives hope to those in a similar situation, the Court approved payment of a carer's allowance to the man, observing that he had willingly sacrificed his own interests and provided his sister with an exemplary service. The modest annual sums to be paid to him from his sister's compensation were easily affordable and represented a considerable saving when compared with what she would have had to pay for a team of professional carers.