This is an updated version of the blog initially published on the 31st of July 2020. Amongst other reasons, it has now been updated to consider, in April 2022, the effect of the publication of the 16th edition of the Judicial College, ‘Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases’.
The types of questions that, as personal injury solicitors, we are asked most often at Mooneerams are along the lines of:
‘How much is my personal injury claim worth?’, ‘What’s my claim worth?’, or ‘How much is the average personal injury settlement?’
People can be a bit disappointed with the answers we give, which usually go something along the lines of:
“No two claims are ever the same because people are individuals, and the same type of injury can affect people differently.
Once we have received a medical report covering the injuries you sustained in the accident, we will be better able to advise you how much your claim is worth.”
We do, though, understand why people want to know, as soon as possible, how much accident compensation they will get.
We’ve written this article to better understand how to determine the value of a personal injury claim, and the compensation pay out you could receive. It takes a look at:
- What type of damages will I get for my personal injury claim?
- What General Damages are
- What Special Damages are
- How general damages in a personal injury case are calculated
- How the Judicial College Guidelines help in working out the value of a personal injury claim
- Whether compensation calculators are accurate guides as to how much a claim is worth
What type of damages will I get for my personal injury claim?
A personal injury claim aims to put the person who has been injured back into the position they would have been in had they not had an accident.
If you get damages to recover the total cost of repairing your car after a road traffic accident, you have been put back into the position you were in before the accident.
If you suffer an injury, all that can be recovered is money to try to go some way to compensate 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 of a serious injury on someone’s life.
There are many different types of damages that can be claimed in a personal injury claim.
General damages cannot be calculated using a mathematical formula.
Many people think that general damages are only about what you recover for the injury you suffer, but that is not the case. They are split into four types of damages, and these are to compensate for:
1 Pain, suffering and loss of amenity
This term refers to compensation for the pain and suffering the accident caused. 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 on how serious it is.
Some cases go to court for damages to be assessed by a judge, and some are settled before court.
If the pain and suffering are still ongoing at settlement, the claimant’s solicitor must ensure the compensation settlement includes a satisfactory amount to compensate the claimant for future pain and suffering.
Loss of amenity is often discussed in the same breath as pain and suffering. It is, however, a separate ‘head’ of damages to compensate the claimant for the accident’s effect 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. Another example of loss of amenity is if the injuries have affected the claimant’s sex life.
2. Handicap on the open labour market
This is to compensate for the effect the injuries will have on the claimant’s ability to get another job, should they lose their job.
3. 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 the loss of earnings that the claimant would have earned in the future.
Working out the loss of future earnings is a complex calculation to make. Many variables could happen, and they must be considered when working out future losses. It is important to include past and future earnings in any loss of earnings claim.
4. Loss of congenial employment
This is intended to compensate a claimant who cannot return to the type of employment that they were 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 due to the accident. They are losses that can be precisely calculated. Some of the more common items of special damage that are claimed by those injured in non-fault accidents are:
- loss of earnings (up to the date of trial or settlement of the case
- items of clothing
- personal effects damaged in the accident
- prescription and other medical costs
- cost of medical care
- travel expenses
- care costs
- cost of home services such as DIY, cleaning, ironing, cooking etc
- cost of any specialist machinery or aids
Some items of special damage are specific to particular accident types, most noticeable road traffic accident claims:
- Cost of repairs to the damaged motor vehicle, bicycle or motorbike or 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, and many such cases are reported in law books. By researching previously decided cases involving the same types of injury as the one that the client has suffered, it’s possible to understand how much this particular claim for an injury may be worth.
Using the Judicial College Guidelines for the Assessment of Personal Injury Damages in Personal Injury Cases.
Every few years, a team of judges sit down to update some significant figures. Together these eminent lawyers form the editorial team of the JC Guidelines. This slim volume book contains a list, with brief explanations, of guideline figures for compensating people who have suffered injury in accidents that weren’t their fault. The 16th edition of the Guidelines was published on the 29th of April 2022.
The guidelines cover all conceivable injuries you may have suffered in an accident. The guideline compensation pay-outs apply to injuries sustained in an accident, where the person claiming was not at fault:
- car accident claims (and other types of road traffic accident claims)
- accident at work claims
- medical negligence claims
- Industrial disease claims (such as asbestos claims)
The JC guidelines set out’ minimum to maximum’ bands of damages, i.e. they do not provide set figures.
For instance, the compensation guideline figures for head injuries which result in severe brain damage the guidelines read:
(A) Injury Resulting from Brain Damage
(a) Very Severe £282,010 to £403,3990 (Judicial College Guidelines 16th Edition)
The wide variation between the two compensation amounts takes into account that even in cases of ‘severe brain injury’, some cases will be more severe than others. Medical evidence will be needed to determine where a particular brain injury claim falls within the bracket of brain compensation set out in the JC Guidelines.
As can be seen, personal injury solicitors and judges still have to use their expertise, together with past precedent cases, to help them arrive at a more precise compensation figure for the particular personal injury case they are dealing with.
You can find out more about the Judicial College guidelines in our article, ‘What are the Judicial College Guidelines’?
Placing too much reliance on a Claims Calculator can be misleading for potential claimants.
There is much more to working out what a claim for personal injury is worth than meets the eye. Check out our compensation calculator, but use it only as a rough guide to what a particular injury claim might be worth, not as what your claim is actually worth.
Mooneerams – The Personal Injury Solicitors
At Mooneerams, we’ve been acting on behalf of personal injury clients since 2002.
We have recovered millions of pounds worth of compensation on behalf of injured claimants in that time.
We specialise in personal injury compensation claims serving the people of Cardiff, South Wales and those from further afield. We only deal with personal injury claims, and 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 we deal with are funded on a no win, no fee basis.
Call Mooneerams now on 029 2048 3615 for an obligation free chat and some initial free legal advice from 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