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Published On: December 15, 2023 | Blog | 0 comments

How Is The Value Of My Personal Injury Claim Assessed?

I am a personal injury solicitor, and I am often asked in general conversation how much compensation an injured person receives for certain injuries: a fractured leg, a ruptured knee, and so on. Certainly, a quick Google search of “personal injury – how much compensation” will take you to hundreds of websites advising on the court’s compensation awards for injuries of different body parts, depending on the severity of the injuries.

However, the reality of the situation is not so straightforward as a Google search, in that the value of the claim is not determined by compensation amounts previously awarded by courts for a fractured arm, shoulder or leg, even if these are similar significant life-changing injuries with long term symptoms and consequences.

The value of each claim is determined on an individual basis and often comes from the impact of a serious catastrophic injury on a claimant’s ability to continue to earn a living and to continue to live as they were prior to the accident. The value also depends on the cost of specialist medical treatment and/or future surgery costs, or aids and adaptations required as a result of the long-term symptoms. There are a huge number of factors to be considered when assessing the value of a claim.

 

How is an injury claim assessed?

In any personal injury claim, compensation for injury loss and damage falls into two distinct categories: general damages and special damages.

1. General damages

This is the compensation for the injury itself: the pain, suffering and disability arising out of the accident.

When assessing this, every solicitor, both claimant and defendant, will use a publication called “The Judicial College Guidelines” (The Guidelines).

The Guidelines are a distillation of the awards of damages that have been awarded by courts throughout the UK in personal injury cases. The Guidelines give a bracket for specific types of injury and their severity, which are widely adopted as the starting point in negotiating levels of payment for general damages in personal injury cases.

However, in the UK, the level of general damages to be awarded as set out in The Guidelines can be modest. My clients are often surprised at how little a court may award them for their injuries alone.  This is where the second category of compensation is important.

2. Special damages

This is the compensation for the specific financial losses that arise from the accident.  Where an injury is significant and has been life-changing, this aspect of the claim can include large-scale losses such as loss of earnings, the cost of necessary private care, home and vehicle adaptions, surgery and medical costs, both past and future.

 

How this works in practice

By way of example, I recently acted for Mr K, a motorcyclist who, following a road traffic accident, required the surgical amputation of two-thirds of his left little finger.

Using The Guidelines, the bracket for compensation for the amputation of a little finger is between £8,640 and £12,240.  This doesn’t seem very much at all when one considers the potential impact on hand function and the cosmetic implications.

My client was a successful actor and the loss of his left little finger was likely to limit the roles for which he would be considered unless he wore a prosthesis.

I obtained specialist medical evidence from a prosthetics expert who recommended my client be supplied with custom-made high-definition silicone digits to be worn as and when appropriate. The cost of a permanent supply of these digits for my client’s working life increased the value of the claim dramatically so that its full value was just over £200,000.

Alternatively, if my client had been uncomfortable with wearing a prosthesis, I would have investigated the loss of earnings he would be likely to sustain through lost job opportunities and included this loss in his claim instead.

The aim of any compensation claim is to put the claimant back in the position they would have been in as far as possible had the accident not occurred. This is not just financially but also in terms of quality of life.

At Anthony Gold, our specialist team of polytrauma injury solicitors look at not just how much compensation should be awarded for the injury itself, but the often far-reaching effects of the injury on the claimant’s life as a whole. Achieving compensation for those financial losses, often to compensate the claimant for long-term future needs, is a subtle and often nuanced negotiation, and is a crucial part of any personal injury claim.

* Disclaimer: The information on the Anthony Gold website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. It is provided without any representations or warranties, express or implied.*

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