A Guide to Personal Injury Awards and Settlements
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Before you are entitled to receive any compensation you must first be able to prove that someone or somebody (e.g. another motorist, your employer, the owner or occupier of premises etc.) has breached their duty of care which they owe to you. This is referred to as proving liability.
If you are seeking compensation from a medical professional, an independent medical opinion will probably be required in order to prove that the original medical practitioner has breached their duty.
Once you have established that there has been a breach of duty, it is necessary to go on to consider your compensation entitlement.
How much is my claim worth?
The level of compensation an injured person receives depends on a number of factors including:
- The nature and extent of the injury suffered
- How the injury has affected day to day life
- The time that it will take to fully recover from the injury
We may be unable to provide you with a figure for the average compensation payout in regards to your specific injury. This is because when calculating the amount of compensation you are entitled to, there are a number of factors we must first consider.
Once a medical prognosis is established we should be able to provide an approximate value of the claim and the likely range of damages (compensation) that a judge would award should the matter proceed to court. Any approximate value will be based on previously decided personal injury claims payouts and guidelines used by the Judiciary in quantifying similar injuries.
What type of injury can I claim for?
You can claim for physical and psychological injuries if medical evidence confirms the injuries were caused by the accident.
Common injuries include bruising, sprains, cuts, burns, fractures and sometimes post traumatic stress disorder.
There are two main heads of award in any personal injury claim:
Pain, Suffering and Loss of Amenity (General Damages)
An award for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA) is called an award of general damages by the Court and compensates the Claimant for their physical and psychological injuries and the general impact of the accident upon their lifestyle. You may also hear general damages referred to as pain and suffering compensation.
How much is pain and suffering compensation worth?
Pain and suffering compensation is calculated by comparing the injuries sustained, set out in independent medical reports, to previous reported cases where Claimants have suffered similar injuries.
You should be aware that in determining PSLA, the Court applies a global approach. The Court tends to value the most serious injury first and then add a reducing amount for each additional injury, rather than adding together the individual value of each separate injury. The Court takes the view that pain from multiple injuries overlaps, meaning that if you are in pain, the extent of suffering does not differ greatly whether this pain emanates from one part of the body or three or four. Whilst everyone may not agree with this view, it would be unrealistic to disregard it when valuing your claim for PSLA.
Losses and Expenses (Special Damages)
The claim for losses and expenses is called a claim for special damages by the Court and is presented in the form of a schedule.
It is for you the Claimant to prove that firstly the loss or expense was incurred and, secondly, that the loss or expense was caused by the accident as opposed to unrelated factors.
The first issue is generally a matter for documentary evidence, for example, payslips to prove loss of earnings, or receipts to prove the cost of items purchased. The second issue is generally a matter for medical evidence and we rely upon the medical expert to confirm that the loss or expense was reasonable and was caused by the accident, as opposed to unrelated factors.
The claim for losses and expenses can include the following items for example:
- Loss of earnings/profit
- Pension loss
- The value of care and assistance provided gratuitously by family and friends
- Cost of aids and adaptations and/or paid care
- Travel expenses to attend GP, hospital and/or treatment providers
- Medication and treatment fees
- Items of damaged property such as clothing
- Cost of holidays or social engagements cancelled as a result of the accident
It is important that you keep a good record of any expenses incurred as a consequence of the accident, retaining any receipts to prove the expenditure. You will need to provide your record of expenses to your solicitor on a regular basis, together with any receipts.
What other items can I claim for?
Depending upon the severity of your injuries it may also be appropriate to include within your claim for compensation costs such as professional carers, increased accommodation costs and the cost of any future treatment. You may also be entitled to a claim for ongoing loss of earnings or compensation for reduced earning capacity if the injuries you have sustained in the accident will affect you in the long term.
Your solicitor will discuss with you the various compensation awards that are available once a final medical prognosis has been provided.
Should I trust compensation calculators?
Some law firms and accident management companies offer a 'personal injury settlement calculator' facility to provide potential clients with initial indications of how much their injury claim is worth. These are notoriously inaccurate and so generic that they can be extremely misleading, often providing unrealistic expectations of the true value of the claim.
The value of a claim depends upon the specific circumstances of that case and therefore it is impossible to accurately estimate the potential value of any claim without further evidence in relation to the injuries and losses suffered.
It is for this reason that we do not have a compensation calculator on our website, but encourage anyone with any questions to get in touch and speak to one of our advisors.
How can we help you?
If you are thinking of making a personal injury claim, and are wondering how much compensation you will receive the best thing to do is contact us. You can call us on 08000 93 00 94 or complete an online enquiry form by clicking on the button below and we will call you back.
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