How is compensation calculated in a medical negligence claim?
If you have suffered injury as a result of medical negligence money is not always the main reason for bringing a claim. However, the court system only has the power to award financial compensation. It may be through the process of litigation one may obtain an apology or highlight poor practices to healthcare providers. The only guarantee if a claim is successful is an award of financial compensation. With this in mind, it may be useful to those who have suffered medical negligence to understand how compensation is calculated.
The General Principle of English Law
When compensating individuals who have suffered injury as a result of negligence it is a long-standing principle that a claimant should as nearly as possible be put back in the position had the negligence not occurred.
Compensation is broadly divided into two categories, general damages (representing physical and psychological injuries) and special damages (representing financial losses).
Physical and psychological injuries are valued based on guidelines in a book called the Judicial College Guidelines. The 13 chapters contained in this book cover most injuries a person may suffer. The types of injuries are too numerous to list individually, some examples are below:
A) Tetraplegia £284,610 to £354,260
This is the highest valued injury.
B) Severe psychiatric injury generally £48,080 to £101,470
The injured person will have marked problems affecting work and personal relationships and the prognosis will be poor.
C) Complete loss of sight in one eye £43,200 to £48,080
D) Female infertility £15,750 to £32,210
Without medical complications and where the injured person already has children.
E) Severe bowel injury £39,090 to £61,140
Causing impairment of function and often requiring temporary colostomy and/or restriction on employment and on diet.
F) Above knee amputation of one leg £91,910 to £120,530
G) Moderate chronic regional pain syndrome £24,580 to £46,040
H) Loss of or serious damage to two front teeth £7,650 to £10,010
I) Significant facial scarring £7,990 to £26,380
This represents financial losses incurred as a result of the negligence. This often includes the following heads of loss:
A) Loss of earnings
Lost wages as a result of an injury may be recovered. As can other earnings such as bonuses and salary increases.
B) Care and assistance
If someone looked after you (e.g. help with bathing, getting dressed, etc), or carried out your chores/duties (e.g. cleaning, shopping, looking after children, etc), as a result of an injury, you may recover compensation for their time spent helping you.
Also if you require professional care as a result of your injuries you may recover this cost.
C) Accommodation and adaptation costs
If your injury means you need a new property or adaptations to your existing property, this cost may be recovered.
D) Travel expenses
Mileage and parking costs (e.g. going to medical appointments) may be recovered.
E) Treatment costs
If you require treatment these costs may be recovered on a private basis, even if you would not have had paid for private treatment yourself.
F) Medication costs
Medication costs may be recovered. Also, the costs of medical aids, such as prostheses, may be recovered.
G) Funeral costs
H) Miscellaneous costs
Any other financial losses incurred as a result of an injury may be recovered. For example: the cost of a holiday which you were unable to go on, or cancelled theatre tickets.
Past and future financial losses may be recovered. The latter may increase the value of claim far beyond that of the value of the injury. For example, if you are permanently unable to work, or require care for the rest of your life, or require regular future treatment. To ensure you are properly compensated requires careful consideration of your needs going forward.
How much is my claim worth?
The information in this blog is meant only to provide general information on how a claim is valued. It is by no means an exhaustive list of heads of loss. Indeed many injuries do not fit neatly into the categories in the Judicial College Guidelines and clients may have suffered financial losses in unique ways. In these cases valuing a claim relies on specialist legal knowledge and experience.
If you have any questions about your medical negligence case please contact our specialist solicitors on 0808 271 9413.