How much is my claim worth?
If you are contemplating pursuing a legal claim for compensation (known as “damages”), you will wish to have some idea of the potential amount you will recover if successful.
The value of the claim will depend on many variables, and no two cases are identical. However, if you win your case (be it a claim relating to a road traffic accident, claim against your employer for an accident in the workplace or improper working practices, a claim against an occupier for a slip, trip or fall, or a medical negligence claim against a healthcare provider), you should be entitled to recover compensation based on the following considerations:
Every Claimant who suffers a personal injury (be it physical or psychological) will be entitled to “general damages”. This is a rounded sum in recognition of your pain, suffering and loss of amenity.
Lawyers and the Courts value general damages by reference to previously-decided case law which creates precedents. Judges and solicitors will look at previously successful cases in which Claimants recovered damages in respect of injuries and symptoms similar to your own.
The amount of general damages for different types of injury will vary dependant upon the age of the Claimant, how badly they were affected by their injuries (i.e. whether it prevented them from working, or affected hobbies or future prospects), and importantly, whether they are likely to make a full recovery.
In determining the nature and extent of a Claimant’s symptoms arising from an injury, lawyers will instruct medical experts to carry out examinations and prepare reports detailing the injury, symptoms and prognosis. Such reports may also identify any recommended future treatment which may be helpful. Experts owe a duty to the Court, so you can be sure that they are providing an unbiased and independent opinion.
In addition to case-law, lawyers also refer to the Judicial College Guidelines – an annual publication where brackets of damages are grouped together for different injuries or conditions. A wide selection of Judges and academics contribute to the Guidelines, making it a fair overview of the level of damages for each classification of bodily injury.
In addition to general damages, a successful Claimant may also be entitled to recover “special damages”. This encompasses specific, identifiable items of financial loss, both past and future.
For example, you may have incurred loss of earnings if you were off work due to injury, or you may have incurred travel expenses in going to see doctors or specialists. In other cases, Claimants may have incurred the costs of private medical treatment or prescriptions and medications.
Certain items of special damage will only become apparent through the investigation of the claim, and may need to be substantiated by independent expert evidence.
For instance, a severely injured Claimant who is disabled as a result of an accident or injury may need aids and equipment to assist in their mobility and independence, or may need alterations to their property to make it safer and more suitable to meet their needs. A Claimant may also need help and assistance from carers with day-to-day tasks or personal care, and evidence will be needed to support a claim in relation to this.
There are many different types of claim, and it is important to appoint a solicitor who is a specialist in the area of law concerned. Your solicitor will be best placed to advise you in relation to the necessary evidence required to support your claim for damages.
If you would like to discuss a potential claim, please contact one of our team today, who can provide free initial advice.