Somebody Else Caused Me Injury, But What Can I Claim?

The valuation of a claim for damages is quite complex in some cases, and in general terms, the objective is that an injured person should be put back in a position he or she was prior to the accident, so far as money will allow. Obviously, some injuries are so severe that no amount of money can compensate, and it has to be acknowledged that generally speaking, damages for actual personal injury is relatively modest.

There are however three main heads of claim which arise in a personal injury claim, and which can be summarised as follows:

1. General damages
This is compensation purely for the actual injury, not financial losses. There is no hard and fast rule that any given injury will be worth a set amount, as it will depend upon the severity of the injury, and how it affects the individual. Everyone is different. This is generally calculated by reference to medical reports, possibly supplemented by additional information in the form of a statement from you and/or friends or family, regarding the impact the accident has had. You will also be assessed by reference to reported cases, where the Court has approved or awarded damages for similar type injury. Also, there is a publication called the Judicial College Guidelines which gives an outline of the type of award which may be expected in different types of injury cases. Do not be surprised that we cannot give you a settlement figure at the outset.

2. Special Damages
This is an award for actual financial loss incurred already. Usually, it involves lost earnings, but may also involve travel costs, medication, medical and other treatment, equipment, paying for care, domestic or other help, and so forth. It is for money that has actually been spent.

It is highly advisable to keep not only a running list of expenses incurred, but also receipts wherever possible. It is for you to prove your case, not for the Defendant’s to disprove it. If you have frequent trips, for example to the hospital, doctor, physiotherapist or similar, keep a list of the dates of any visits, and the mileage and expense involved (including parking), or bus/taxi/rail fares. It is easy to forget with the passage of time.

If you are self-employed and lose a verbal contract because you are not fit, get the person who was going to employ you to put it in writing, with as much detail as possible. Likewise, if you were about to start a job at a higher wage, but lost the opportunity, get that prospective employer to put in writing what the job was, how much it paid, extras, etc. Generally speaking, people are willing to help at the beginning; with the passage of time however, they become less inclined to do so.

3. Future Loss
In some cases, the injury is sufficiently severe to prevent you from returning to work, or may perhaps require you to take a lower paid job or work less hours. Also, in serious cases, you may require further medical treatment, equipment (for example wheelchair or similar) and long term care or domestic or other help (such as DIY, Gardening etc)

Additionally, although it is not a major head of claim, you may be entitled to claim some interest for losses incurred. Generally speaking the amounts involved are very meagre, and unless the claim is very serious, do not normally add a great deal to your compensation.