It’s the type of question that as personal injury solicitors, we at Mooneerams, are asked most often.
‘How much is my personal injury claim worth?’, ‘What’s my claim worth?’, or ‘How much is the average personal injury settlement?’
Generally, people are a bit disappointed with the answer that we give. It usually goes along the lines of:
“Every claim for personal injury is different. No two claims are ever exactly the same. That’s because people are individuals and the same type of injury can affect different people in different ways.
Once your claim is underway, we will arrange for you to be examined by a medical expert. He or she will prepare a report on the nature and extent of the injuries that you have suffered in the accident. The report will also set out how the injuries are affecting you on a day to day basis.
Once we have the medical report to hand, we will be more accurately able to advise you, how much your claim is likely to be worth.”
We aren’t trying to be awkward when we answer the ‘how much?’ type of questions in this way. We understand that most people would like at the outset to know how much they will get if they make a claim.
With all this in mind, this article is going to look at the different types of damages (compensation) that make up personal injury claims settlements. We’ll also look at how compensation figures are assessed i.e where do we get the figures from?
We’ll write about the ‘Claims Calculators’ that you see on some other personal injury solicitors’ websites, why we think they are dangerous and the real reason that some firms have them on their websites.
Finally, we’ll show some examples of compensation figures taken from the Judicial Guidelines on Personal Injury claims.
What type of damages will I get for my personal injury claim?
‘Damages’ is another word for compensation. The aim of a personal injury claim is to put the person who has been injured back into the position that they would have been in, had they not been involved in the accident
Of course, money can’t ever totally compensate you in respect of the injury that you have suffered. If you get damages that recover the total cost of repairing your car after a road traffic accident, then you have been put back into the position you were in before the accident.
If you suffer injury, all that can be recovered is money to try to go some way to compensating you for the pain and suffering that you have gone through already and may go through in the future. No amount of compensation can make up for the devastating effects that a serious injury has on someone’s life.
There are a number of different types of damages that can be claimed in a personal injury claim.
General damages be cannot be worked out using a mathematical formula.
Many people think that general damages are only about what you recover for the injury you suffer. They are not. They are split into four types of damages and these are to compensate for:
- Pain, suffering and loss of amenity
These are damages for the pain and suffering caused by the accident. The injuries may be physical, psychological or both.
The amount of compensation for pain and suffering isn’t just based on the type of injury, but also the severity.
Some cases go to court for damages to be assessed by a judge or they are settled before they to court.
If the pain and suffering are still ongoing at the time the claim is settled or goes to court, the settlement must ensure that the damages cover an amount to compensate for future pain and suffering.
Loss of amenity is always talked about in the same breath as pain and suffering. In actual fact, it is a separate ‘head’ of damages to compensate the claimant for the effect that the accident has had on their life.
For example, the claimant may not have been able to pursue a particular type of hobby or sport because of the injuries. The injuries may have had an effect on the claimant’s sex life.
- Handicap on the open labour market
This is to compensate for the effect the injuries sustained in the accident will have had on the claimant’s ability to get another job, should he/she ever lose the job that they had at the time of the accident.
- Future loss of earnings
This type of compensation can be claimed if the injuries suffered in the accident caused the claimant to give up work. It is to compensate for loss of earnings that the claimant would have earned in the future.
Once again, this is not a straightforward calculation to make. There are many variables that could happen in the future. These potential future happenings have to be taken into account when working out the loss of future earnings.
- Loss of congenial employment
This is intended to compensate a claimant who cannot go back to the type of employment that he or she was doing at the time of the accident because their injuries prevent them from doing that type of work. It’s most commonly awarded when a skilled worker has to give up their trade or profession and instead do a less skilled job.
What are Special Damages?
Special damages are items of loss that the claimant has incurred as a result of the accident. They are losses that can be specifically calculated. Some of the more common items of special damage that are claimed by those injured in non-fault accidents are:
- a) Loss of earnings (up to the date of trial or settlement of the case)
- b) items of clothing
- c) personal effects damaged in the accident
- d) prescription and other medical costs
- e) cost of medical care
- f) travel expenses
- g) care costs
- h) cost of home services such as DIY, cleaning, ironing, cooking etc
- i) cost of any specialist machinery or aids
There are some items of special damage that are specific to particular accident types, most noticeable road traffic accident claims:
- Cost of repairs to the damaged motor vehicle. bicycle or motorbike or alternatively the pre-accident value, if damaged beyond repair
- Vehicle hire, recovery or storage charges incurred.
- Insurance policy excess
- Loss of use of the vehicle (if the claimant did not hire an alternative vehicle instead)
How are general damages in personal injury cases worked out?
There are two main methods by which personal injury solicitors work out the level of compensation that their clients claim is worth.
- By using precedent cases as a guide.
Precedents are past cases decided by the courts. Many such cases are reported in law books. By researching previously decided cases, that involved the same types of injury as the one that our client has suffered, we can gain an idea as to how much this particular claim for an injury may be worth.
- By using the Judicial College Guidelines for the Assessment of Personal Injury Damages in Personal Injury Cases.
The Judicial College Guidelines
As an example of how the Judicial College personal injury guidelines work, the table below has extracted some of the basic information on leg injury compensation awards.
The figures on the right are ‘minimum to maximum’ bands of damages i.e. they do not provide set figures. Solicitors, barrister and judges still have to use their expertise and past precedent cases, to help them arrive at a more precise compensation figure for the particular personal injury case they are dealing with.
At Mooneerams solicitors, we aren’t big fans of compensation calculators. You will often see them on the websites of claims management companies and some solicitors. They are usually in the form of a diagram of the human anatomy. By clicking on the part of the body that is relevant to where you have suffered an injury e.g. the left arm, a figure will be revealed. This is intended to represent the amount that you could expect to recover if you injured that part of your body in an accident.
We think that these forms of Claims Calculator are dangerous and can be misleading for potential claimants.
We hope that our blog has shown that there is a lot more to working out what a claim for personal injury is worth than meets the eye!
Mooneerams – The Personal Injury Solicitors
At Mooneerams, we’ve been acting on behalf of personal injury clients since 2002.
In that time, we have recovered millions of pounds worth of compensation on behalf of injured claimants.
We specialise in personal injury compensation claims serving the people of Cardiff, South Wales and those from further afield. In fact, we only deal with personal injury claims. That’s why we are experts in accident claims of all types – road traffic accidents, accidents at work and public liability accidents.
Most of the claims that we deal with are funded on a no win, no fee basis.
Call Mooneerams now on 029 2048 3615 for an obligation free chat to one of our experienced team. You can also get in touch with us by visiting our Contact page. Alternatively, start your claim by leaving your details in the box on this page.