We have all come across reports of someone being awarded hundreds of thousands of pounds in injury compensation and it is tempting to think that, if you have had a significant injury, you are in line to receive a hefty sum. But that isn’t necessarily the case. So how do solicitors work out how much you ought to receive?
Let’s assume you have been injured and it was someone else’s fault. Firstly, you will probably have experienced some pain and suffering, and upset to your normal life. In a more serious accident, the injuries may be such that you never get back to how you were before the accident.
Secondly, you are likely to be out of pocket. You may not be able to work for some time, or you may have to cancel a holiday you’d booked or spend money travelling to have treatment.
When assessing your compensation, the court treats these as the two basic elements making up your award of compensation. The first element is termed ‘general damages’, which is a round-figure sum intended to compensate for pain suffering and loss of amenity, and is usually supported by medical evidence.
The second element is termed ‘special damages’ and is made up of the total of all those specific sums of money that had to be spent or that have been lost as a result of the accident.
If solicitors are acting for you in trying to negotiate an out-of-court settlement, they will work out how much they think a court would award you. The amounts awarded for general damages are limited by guidelines and case authorities, which judges have to follow.
However, when it comes to special damages, there can be a huge difference between what two people with similar injuries are awarded; often this is due to the impact the injury has on their future earnings. For example, a talented young musician with potentially high earnings who can’t now pursue their career might lose millions in future potential earnings, and the court will try to reflect that in its award.
Solicitors on both sides should be able assess what the court would be likely to award and, even if a court claim has already started, negotiations can carry on. In most cases, these succeed in helping people achieve an out-of-court settlement and avoid the costs and uncertainties of going to court.
As the valuation of each case is based on the specific physical and financial impact to the individual, the compensation levels between people can vary dramatically. It is therefore important that the physical and financial impact of the injury on your day to day living is fully explored and taken into account by your solicitor.
At Lyons Davidson, we believe in managing our clients’ expectations from the outset and providing them with full, detailed advice on how we have carried out the valuation of their injuries and losses. If you have been injured and are looking for solicitors who will be transparent in all aspects of your claim from start to finish, or you would like information on injury compensation in general, contact our Personal Injury and Accidents Claims team or call us on 0117 904 6000. Your initial consultation will always be free of charge.