What does personal injury law come under?
Personal injury law cases are dealt with under civil law. If you suffer injury in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence (carelessness) you may want to seek recompense from them. You will therefore bring a personal injury claim against them. The case may go to court to decide who was at fault and/or how much compensation you will receive. If that happens, the court will be a civil court (as opposed to a criminal court which deals with cases of criminal wrongdoing).
Personal injury law is based on the idea, that if someone does you a wrong, the wrong they have done should be put right. Personal injury claims aim to put the right wrong by making the party who caused the accident and your injury, pay you compensation for the harm they have caused you.
What does personal injury include?
A claim for personal injury will include a claim for the injury suffered. This is referred to as getting damages (compensation) for pain, suffering and loss of amenity. In other words, you seek to get compensated for the pain of the injury itself, the suffering it causes and the manner in which it affects your day-to-day life. This type of compensation is known as ‘general damages’. The best way of describing general damages is to say it is compensation that cannot be calculated by using a mere mathematical formula.
Contrast this with, for example, a claim for loss of earnings. If you have to take time off work because of your injuries after an accident, you may have a loss of earnings claim. As you are entitled to claim for any direct losses suffered as a result of the accident that was not your fault, you can claim for loss of earnings provided they are reasonably incurred. A claim for lost earnings would be a ‘special damages claim’. This is because loss of earnings can be calculated using a mathematical calculation.
You can find out more about what items of loss count as general damages and what, as special damages, in our blog, ‘5 Common Questions We Get Asked About Personal Injury Claims’.
At Mooneerams solicitors we most commonly handle the following types of personal injury claims:
Clinical (medical) negligence claims also involve personal injury in the form of pain, suffering and loss of amenity for the victim of negligence caused by a medical professional.
Personal injury compensation claims are made by those exposed to asbestos and who go on to suffer from a recognised asbestos disease, such as mesothelioma, asbestos lung cancer, asbestosis, or pleural thickening. It is usual to refer to these as asbestos disease claims.
What is the average pay out for a personal injury claim in the UK?
There is no such such thing as an ‘average pay out’ in a personal injury claim. Sure, we could add up the likely damages, for pain and suffering, you might get for a whiplash injury, a broken arm, a serious head injury, an amputated leg, and come up with an average compensation amount. However, the figure arrived at is not going to have any useful meaning.
When you make a personal injury claim, your compensation pay-out will depend on your own particular circumstances; the seriousness of your injury, whether your injury will have an affect on the type of work you do now or in the future and how the injury affects your family life and leisure time.
Added to the pain suffering and loss of amenity damages, will be other general and special damage claims particular to your case. When you read of multi-million-pound settlements in serious injury claims or medical negligence claims, the personal injury compensation for pain, suffering and loss of amenity might only make up, say, 20% of the overall compensation awarded. The rest of the monetary settlement will be for a variety of losses and future care costs, adaptations to the home, cost of future treatment, and so on.
If you choose an experienced form of specialist personal injury solicitors, like Mooneerams, to handle your accident injury claim, they will be able to tell you what your claim is likely to be worth, after the relevant medical evidence on your injuries, has been obtained. The potential settlement figure may change as your claim proceeds, and further medical or other expert evidence is obtained.
In the end, what your claim is worth, has to be gauged by what a court would be likely to award you if your claim does not settle and it ends up at court.
How is personal injury compensation calculated?
The ultimate judge of how much your personal injury claim is worth is in fact a real Judge sitting at court. When a Judge is asked to consider how much he or she will award the to the Claimant in a particular case, they will listen to the evidence presented by the claimant and the defendant and then base their decision on:
- Judicial precedent: this means considering how much was awarded in already decided cases where the injuries were similar to those of the claimant in the case now before the court.
- Judicial guidelines: Every few years a publication called The Judicial College Guidelines for the assessment of General Damages in Personal injury Cases gets updated and published. It contains what it says – guidelines for valuing different kinds of personal injury claims. Each injury usually has a bracket of figures for what a claim is worth, as can be seen from the example shown, below, relating to head and brain injuries.
|Major Brain Injury||£264,650||£379,100|
|Moderately Severe Brain Damage||£205,580||£264,650|
|Moderate Brain Damage||£40,410||£205,580|
|Less Severe Brain Damage||£14,380||£40,410|
|Minor Head or Brain Injury||£2,070||£11,980|
It is important to reiterate, these are guidelines. In the end at court a judge will use both methods above when coming to his or her decision on the value of the injury claim. They will also factor in the loss of amenity this injury caused to the claimant before them in court. The amount your claim is worth is, in the end, individual to you.
How the Judge at court decides the value of a claim, is how an expert personal injury solicitor tries to value a claim too.
It is worth noting that most injury claims will not go to court. It is estimated that no more than 5% do (and some legal commentators reckon the figure to be as low as 1%).
Can I make a personal injury claim myself?
There is nothing to stop you making a personal injury claim on your own behalf. In fact, if you suffer a whiplash injury in a road traffic accident after 31st May 2021, the law and procedure for making a claim has been revised, so as to encourage you to make your own claim.
However, the official guide to making a whiplash claim runs to 64 pages, so unsurprisingly many whiplash claimants are still turning to personal injury solicitors to pursue whiplash claims on their behalf. This suggests that the new online whiplash portal is not as straightforward to use for members of the public as the Ministry of Justice suggested it was going to be. Early research has shown that most people who have started claims in the new whiplash portal have legal representation.
When it comes to doing other types of personal injury claim yourself it does not get any easier. If it sounds like we are trying to put you off from doing your own claim, it is only because we have often taken over injury claims on behalf of people who have started their own, only to come unstuck along the way.
Before taking the step of trying to make your own PI claim, you may want to ask yourself:
- Do I have any idea of the procedure involved or could I easily learn it? Have I the time, or the will, to do so?
- Do I have the skills and research abilities to find out the value my own claim?
- How will I know what is a good or a bad offer from the other person’s insurance company?
- What do I do if I reject an offer and the insurance company will not offer me more?
- How do I start legal proceedings?
- Do I have the funds to commence a claim at court (court fees when you start your claim are anything from around £370 up to £10,000 depending on the estimated value of your claim)? Many No Win No Fee solicitors pay this fee on behalf of their client and recover it from the paying insurance company as a disbursement when the claim is finished.
- Do I know how to read a medical report properly?
- What if I settle my claim and then find out I undervalued it?
- Do I know what I can and what I cannot claim for?
An expert injury solicitor will know the answer to these questions and have all the qualities required. It is their job to know how to deal with personal injury compensation claims for their clients.
There are many more questions that you will need to consider. However, we hate to see people go uncompensated or under-compensated and that is the risk you would run by doing the claim yourself.
Experienced personal injury solicitors have trained and practised for many years before they become experts. Our advice would be to tap into that legal expertise. Do not forget that if you ask a no win no fee personal injury solicitor to act for you, the claim will be risk free – if you enter into a no win no fee arrangement with a solicitor, then should you lose your claim, you will have nothing to pay. If you win the claim, you will pay a fee to your solicitor from the compensation you receive. You might think that is a better option, than under-settling your claim or getting nothing at all, by trying to do it yourself.
Should I accept a first offer of compensation?
Whether you should accept any offer to settle your claim, depends on whether the offer is reasonable. If you have a solicitor on your side, this is where they earn their money and when you will rely heavily on their knowledge and experience.
If it is not a reasonable offer, then it should be rejected.
You also need to look at where your claim is at. For instance, if your injury persists, and the medical evidence you have so far obtained suggests it is too early to say for how long your injury will take to fully recover from, then it is too early to settle. No offer should be accepted until you have a firm prognosis from a medico-legal expert doctor. A prognosis is a forecast of the like outcome (of your medical condition).
Even if the first offer is within the bounds of being reasonable, is it the best offer you are likely to get? People tend to think that a first offer should always be rejected, that a better one will be waiting around the corner.
Quite often that is true, but it is not always so. Some defendant insurance solicitors like to put their best offer on the line as soon as possible. They may then follow this up with what is known as a Part 36 Offer.
What is a Part 36 Offer?
It is a formal way of either party to a claim making an offer to settle. It can be distinguished from a simple offer to settle by saying that a Part 36 Offer has ‘teeth’ to back it up.
If you reject a normal, non-Part 36 offer, then you can almost always reject it without that rejection coming back to have any bad consequences for you in terms of costs penalties. So, if some months down the line after rejecting an offer to settle, your claim concludes either by negotiation or at court for less than the original offer you received, you will not be liable for the other side’s costs for having refused to take the first offer.
If, however, when making the first offer, the Defendant’s insurance solicitor had made it using the Part 36 offer procedure, then when your claim later settled or went to court and you got less (or exactly the same) compensation than the Part 36 Offer was for, then there are consequences.
The downside in this situation is that whilst you will get your costs of the case up to and including the date the Part 36 offer was made, you will not get the rest of your costs up until the claim ended.
Moreover, the Defendant will get their costs from you, from the date the Part 36 Offer was made up to the claim coming to an end. That could have the practical effect of reducing considerably the amount of compensation you end up with.
If you want to ensure that your personal injury claim is dealt with in the way you would expect of an experienced ‘personal injury only’ solicitors firm, then call Mooneerams – the personal injury solicitors. With over 20 years of acting only for claimants, never for defendants, we will ensure that you recover the best compensation possible for your accident compensation claim.
Contact us today and get free initial advice on making a personal injury claim. You can call us on 029 2048 3615 or email us at [email protected]. We handle most claims for our clients on a No Win No Fee basis.