If you are considering making a personal injury claim, it’s important that you understand the possible outcomes. Here we outline the main elements that are taken into account when calculating your compensation sum.
Why claim compensation?
The principle reason that somebody makes a personal injury claim is to obtain compensation for their injury and to recover out of pocket expenses that have been a result of that injury. You may have lost income, paid treatment costs and will have suffered from pain. The aim of compensation, from a solicitor’s perspective, is to return you to your financial position prior to the damage that occurred.
What are the main elements of personal injury compensation?
The elements that make up your compensation are known as ‘heads of damage’. There are two main compensation considerations:
- Compensation for the effects of your injury
- Compensation for the finances you have lost because of the injury
Pain, suffering and loss of amenity
Compensation for the effects of your injury is reflected in an award for “pain, suffering and loss of amenity”. This is intended to compensate you for the pain and suffering caused by the injury but also for the impact that the injury has had on your enjoyment of life. Loss of amenity might, for instance, cover compensation for being unable to enjoy your regular hobbies.
Cost of nursing care
In some cases, you may suffer from an injury which requires professional nursing care. In significant personal injury cases, involving a brain injury for example, this may be the biggest element of a claim.
If you have alternatively been cared for by a family member or close loved one, you can also make a claim for gratuitous care. Whilst not provided by a professional, this ensures that you can still be compensated for the time that somebody else has spent caring for you.
Past financial loss
Finances that you have lost to date, which directly relate to your injury, may be accounted for in your claim. This loss might include small expenses, such as the cost of damage to your possessions at the time of the injury, or costs of travel to and from the hospital. In other cases your financial loss may be much more substantial, such as loss of earnings over a significant length of time.
Financial loss will also account for what you may lose out on in the future because of your injury.
Disadvantage on the labour market and loss of congenial employment
Your injury may mean that you will struggle to carry out your job or would find it difficult to find a new job in that field. If so an award of damages can be made to reflect that.
In certain circumstances, you may have to give up a career entirely as a result of the injury you’ve sustained. In this case, it may be possible to obtain a sum of money to compensate for the loss of job satisfaction and fulfilment. This compensation is referred to as damages for loss of congenial employment and can be claimed in addition to your financial losses.
How much compensation will this amount to?
Because pain, suffering and loss of amenity are deeply personal and subjective losses, compensation will completely depend on the circumstances, without black and white calculations. However, similar past cases will be referenced to help assess what is a fair sum. There is also a framework called Judicial College’s Guidelines which sets out guidelines as to the level of compensation to be awarded.
There are further factors which may affect your final sum. First, your compensation may be reduced if you were partly to blame for your accident, or at least for the extent of damage (for example, not wearing a seatbelt). Secondly, if you have been receiving social security benefits because of your accident, these may need to be reimbursed to the Government.
Personal injury compensation payment
Whilst usually in the form of a one off payment or lump sum, in larger cases annual payments can be made. This helps to ensure that damages used for future losses are not used up too quickly. The need for annual (periodic) payments over a lump sum will always be thoroughly evaluated.