The Basics

The purpose of compensation is to put you back in the same position as if the accident, which caused the injury, had not happened. Easy to grasp; more difficult to put into practice. The injuries and financial losses must have been caused by the accident.

There are two types of compensation: compensation for your injury, known as ‘General Damages’; and compensation for financial losses, known as ‘Special Damages’. The two elements are combined to form the compensation.

General Damages

No amount of compensation for your pain and suffering can make up for an injury. Very simply: the more that a person has suffered, and may suffer in the future, the greater the compensation. Generally, compensation paid for pain and suffering is not high as you might think. ‘Suffering’ includes mental/psychological suffering. It is for the person making a claim to prove their pain and suffering; to do this a medical report from a suitable expert is required such as a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon.

Over the years the law has developed formulas that allow compensation for pain and suffering to be calculated. There are two main methods: the JSB Guidelines and case law.

The JSB Guidelines set out approximately what injured people should receive for their injuries. If you have ever seen a crude Compensation Calculator available on our competitors’ websites, they are usually relying using the JSB Guidelines. The JSB Guidelines are updated periodically usually to follow inflation. The JSB Guidelines provide brackets for compensation which can be thousands of pounds apart. For example, for a minor soft tissue and whiplash injuries, where symptoms are moderate and a full recovery takes place within about two years, the bracket is £2,850 to £5,150. The JSB Guidelines are useful for finding an approximate value of a claim only.

The second method is to look at the level of compensation Judges have awarded in a court. There are thousands of reported cases and so it is the job of the lawyer to find cases which most closely resemble the injuries of their client. Claimant lawyers want to rely on high values; insurance companies and their lawyers want to rely on lower values of reported cases.

Lawyers and insurers should use both methods to arrive at a likely value of the pain and suffering part of claim. Many insurers, however, rely on computer programmes, rather than the law, for arriving at their values for compensation.

Special Damages

There are few hard and fast rules for calculating the compensation paid for financial losses. What consists of financial losses is often surprising to most people. Frequently, when presented with a calculation of their financial losses, injured people tend to be surprised, because people often forget the real financial costs of the injury.

In order to properly prepare a document detailing all of an injured person’s financial losses, a solicitor must ask the right questions.

Any injured person should bear in mind the concept of mitigation of loss. This means that a wrongdoer should only pay the injured person’s losses which are reasonable and which flow from the accident. For example, if an office worker breaks his little toe in an accident and then decides never to work again even though he could easily return to work, then it would be unfair for the wrongdoer to pay for a lifetime of lost earnings for the office worker. No court would allow such a scandalous claim.

If you are unhappy with the value of your claim and are considering switching solicitors, please get in touch with us on 01423 788 538. We specialise in helping personal injury clients get more compensation.

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Catherine Reynolds
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