Seeking legal advice

Information from www.conact.org

We offer advice on any aspect of caring for a disabled child. In most cases it isn’t necessary to seek legal advice to find the help you need. But sometimes it may be necessary to get a legal opinion or take legal action to put things right.

How Contact can help

Our helpline advisers can explain your rights to local services, education, and benefits and entitlements. We can tell you how you can challenge decisions you’re not happy with. We may be able to tell you about local organisations that can support you to resolve your problem.

If you’re looking for advice about housing or employment rights, contact our helpline for information about national organisations that specialise in these areas.

When you might seek legal support

Getting free legal advice

You may be entitled to free legal aid to help meet the costs of legal advice, family mediation and representation in court. Whether you are eligible for legal aid depends on your personal circumstances. A specialist solicitor will be able to advise you about this, or you could visit the government’s legal aid webpage for more information.

If you are not eligible for legal aid, you may still be able to access free legal advice. We can put you in touch with solicitors that offer a free initial consultation and, where appropriate, may be able to work on a ‘no win, no fee’ agreement basis. This avoids added financial pressures to you at an already stressful time.

Social Care

You may experience difficulties accessing services, such as short breaks or direct payments, or the local authority may try to withdraw or reduce a service. These decisions can normally be challenged using the local authority’s complaints procedure and if necessary through the Ombudsman. It can also help to involve your local councillor or your MP.

You could also seek advice from a solicitor about your options, and you may qualify for legal aid. You may have to go through the complaints procedure before starting legal action, although exceptions can be made if the lack of service or removal of the service would put you or your child at risk. Seek specialist advice on this.

Education

Some families experience difficulty getting the right support for their child’s special educational needs. Other issues include school and college transport, exclusions and disability discrimination.

We aim to give you the advice and information you need to help your disabled child get the education they are entitled to. It may be necessary to seek legal advice from specialists in some cases where this isn’t happening. For example, if other complaints or appeal routes have not been successful, a solicitor might be able to help challenge decisions made by the local authority.

Alternatively, you could contact The Education Law association which has a list of law firms who offer specialist education advice.

Accidents

If a child suffers a serious injury in an accident, even if you feel it may have been their fault, it may be possible for them to claim compensation. Compensation could help pay for private treatment, specialist equipment, adapted accommodation or support services to help meet the child’s needs. This can give you the help and support you need for your family to thrive, as well as peace of mind that your child’s needs will be provided for.

Read more on this from www.contact.org

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