Claiming for personal injury: how much compensation can you expect?
When people are injured as a result of the careless conduct of others, they may pursue legal action for several reasons. A desire for justice, for example, or a need for recognition of the harm caused may motivate some people to go to the courts. Indeed, although the legal system cannot guarantee it, a simple apology is sometimes what the injured party wants most.
However, in the majority of personal injury cases, the possibility of financial compensation remains one of the key incentives to litigate. This is understandable and unsurprising given the pain, suffering and inconvenience that the injured party has faced. Indeed, in many personal injury cases, compensation is imperative to make up for the income that may have lost from being unable to work, or to pay for the care and assistance that may be required after the accident.
An important question for any claimant in a personal injury case is therefore whether they will be entitled to compensation, and, if so, how much? The information below considers what sort of losses can be recovered in the event of a successful personal injury claim, as well as the amount of compensation that the injured party can expect to recover.
Personal injury claim: how much can I expect to recover?
What type of things can I claim for?
In the event that a personal injury claim is successfully established, the aim of the court is to compensate the injured party for the losses that have stemmed from the incident in question. Different types of losses – known as ‘heads of damage’ – can be recovered under a personal injury claim. The injured party can claim for:
This is compensation for the physical and emotional pain, as well as the distress, caused by the accident.
- Loss of Amenity
It is possible to recover money as compensation for the fact that the injured party has been unable to do the things he or she would normally have done in everyday life.
- Loss of earnings
If someone has been unable to work due to the accident, it is common to claim for any loss of earnings incurred. This covers both past and future income.
- The provision of care
If the injured party has had to pay for professional care, or has had to rely on the assistance of family and friends in this regard, this may be recovered as compensation.
How much compensation will I be awarded?
Unfortunately, there is no simple or definitive answer to this question. The amount of compensation awarded in any case will vary depending on the facts of the case in question and the types of losses being claimed. In particular, the amount of money that will be awarded in the event of a successful claim will reflect the type of injury, the severity of the harm caused, as well any lasting effect that it may have had on the claimant’s life. As such, it is usually necessary to get a medical report before any attempt to quantify the level of compensation is made.
However, while it is difficult to predict the exact amount of money that will be awarded, with the help of a personal injury lawyer, it is often possible to get a relatively accurate estimate of the likely compensation. This is because courts and lawyers follow certain steps and guidelines when deciding how much the injured party will receive.
In particular, they will rely on the Judicial Studies Board (JSB) Guidelines. The following steps will help a lawyer or a judge quantify the compensation claim under the guidelines:
- Identifying the type of injury.
Firstly, the type of injury in the particular case will be identified. For each type of injury, the JSB guidelines indicate a range of compensatory awards that may be appropriate. For example, for head injuries, the guidelines suggest that an award anywhere between £700 and £250,000 may be correct. This wide range, which allows for awards of substantially different sums, reflects the fact that the severity of a head injury can be extremely variable.
- Finding comparator cases
After this, it is important to narrow down the range of potential awards for that type of injury. Examining the amount of money that has been granted in previous cases allows this to be done. A lawyer will identify a number of similar cases, where the type and extent of the injury reflect the case in question, and will thereby attempt to put a more exact figure on the amount of compensation that the injured party can expect to receive.
- Adjusting the amount
The judge is not bound to stay within the range of compensation suggested by the JSB guidelines, and may not agree with the value of the claim that the claimant’s lawyer has suggested based on past cases. Instead, he or she may adjust the amount to reflect the particular circumstances of the case.
Should I bring proceedings in a court?
Finally, for a number of reasons, the injured party should keep the estimated value of any claim in mind when deciding whether or not to bring proceedings in a court.
Firstly, if the injured party has previously been in receipt of social security, he or she may be required to pay this back out of any money that is awarded as compensation in a personal injury claim. If the claim is only expected to attract small sums of compensation, it may not therefore be in the party’s interests to bring it.
Secondly, going to court can be time consuming and unpleasant. The injured party may want to try to settle the claim out of court. Although it is often unadvisable to accept the first offer made the other side’s insurer, which is likely to be well below the amount recommended by the JSB guidelines, the injured party nonetheless may be able to negotiate a substantial sum of compensation without going to court.
Getting legal advice on the value of your personal injury claim today
Calculating the value of a personal injury claim, as well as its prospects of success, can be complicated. It requires legal knowledge and an understanding of how the courts approach different types of injuries. For this reason, it is always advisable to seek legal advice in relation to the quantification of your personal injury claim.
Unlike claims companies who take a cut, we pass on 100% compensation to their clients. Their expert legal team provide a fantastic service and are exceptionally responsive to the needs of their clients, working to their best abilities to ensure their clients get the compensation they deserve. If you think you are entitled to compensation, contact us today.