No two circumstances are the same, even if the injuries seemingly can be. As a result, there is no hard and fast rule for how much you could be awarded if you make a successful personal claim, except that the worse the injury and the more impact it has on your life, the more you are likely to be awarded.
The best way to find out what you could be awarded would be to discuss it with a personal injury lawyer. However, here we will cover the basics to give you some idea of how personal injury awards are calculated.
General & special damages for personal injury
You are entitled to be compensated for all the losses that you have suffered as a result of an accident, which may include:
- Damage to your clothing and property;
- Loss of earnings;
- Any insurance excess you may have.
In addition you should be compensated for the pain and suffering that you have gone through as a result of the accident and the consequent injury. Finally you can also claim for any future losses you may suffer, of example an inability to work, loss of promotion prospects, and perhaps an inability to take part in certain sports or hobbies.
Lawyers like to split the amount of compensation you should receive (damages) into two separate categories called special damages and general damages.
Special damages are all those which are easily quantifiable. These include things such as:
- Loss of earnings;
- Medical expenses;
- Taxi fares (if you couldn’t drive due to your injury, for example); and
- Ruined clothes.
Try and make sure you keep a record of any additional expenses that you incur (including receipts if you can), as this will ensure you do not forget any and that your solicitor can claim them back on your behalf. You should also make sure that you are reasonable in your actions before raising the claim, showing that you have mitigated your losses (keep losses suffered to a minimum) to further exemplify this reasonableness. This applies to both special and general damages.
General damages are the more difficult as these have to be “assessed”; i.e. some monetary value has to be placed on the pain and suffering that you have gone through, your possible future loss of earnings and how the injury may affect your general lifestyle in the future.
How general damages are assessed
Assessing general damages is an imprecise art, and it depends a lot on the person who was injured, their circumstances, and how they recover from their injuries.
In order to get some guidance, lawyers (including judges) look at past cases (precedents) which are similar and use these as a guideline in terms of what general damages were awarded (increasing the figures to allow for inflation where necessary).
For example, a simple whiplash injury which causes you pain and inconvenience for 3-4 weeks might be worth anything from £1,000 to £3,000 in general damages.
In addition the Judicial College, which provides training and instruction for all judges in England & Wales, periodically issues guidelines for the assessment of General Damages in personal injury cases. Below are some typical compensation amounts for various injuries to different parts of the body.
How can I find out what sort of general damages I could be awarded?
The Judicial College (the official body for training the judiciary), publishes guidance to Judges and Lawyers to enable consistency across all courts when assessing General damages. This guidance categorises most types of injuries including the broad range of compensation likely to be awarded. Injury lawyers use this guide along with case law to negotiate the best settlement for you.
However, it would be best to seek legal advice directly. If you’d like to discuss your injury with a dedicated expert, you can get in touch with us below; we can help you with a range of claims, including catastrophic injuries, injuries at work and road traffic accidents.
Disclaimer: This information is for general guidance regarding rights and responsibilities and is not formal legal advice as no lawyer-client relationship has been created. Note that the information was accurate at the time of publication but laws may have since changed.