When a person had an accident due to no fault of their own and suffered a personal injury as a direct result of that accident, they may decide to pursue a claim for personal injury against the negligent party, the defendant.
Monetary compensation exists to put claimants back in the position they would have been had their accident not taken place.
Claimants are entitled to be compensated for Pain and Suffering and ‘Loss of Amenity’ (‘PSLA’), commonly known as General Damages as long as it can be established that the injury was caused as a direct result of the accident.
The pain and suffering element of the award aims to compensate claimants for physical but also psychological symptoms. The loss of amenity compensates claimants for loss of enjoyment of life or a reduction in ability to perform everyday tasks.
Physical pain and suffering, physical impairment, psychological symptoms, lower quality of life, difficulty finding another job, all of these instances form part of General Damages.
When liability is not an issue or when the claimant’s solicitor is satisfied their claim has reasonable prospects of success, a medical appointment will be arranged for the claimant to be examined by a medico-legal expert. The discipline of the expert will depend on the nature of the injury the claimant has sustained. In the majority of cases, the expert will want access and will review the entirety of the claimant’s medical records.
When attending their medical appointment, claimants should remember that the expert is a medico-legal expert and not a treating doctor, the expert has been instructed solely as an independent consultant to prepare a medical report.
A few weeks following the medical appointment, the solicitor will receive the claimant’s medical report. The solicitor will review the report to make sure it is broadly correct and to identify the relevant issues raised within the report. The report will be sent to the claimant and it is for the claimant to ensure their report is factually accurate. The medical report will always have to be approved by the claimant prior to being disclosed to the third party insurers.
One of the most important parts of the medical report is the prognosis. The prognosis is the expert’s estimate of the length of time it will take for a claimant to fully recover from their injury. It is only an estimate thus, if a claimant does not recover in line with the expert’s prognosis then a re-examination is usually necessary and advised.
The prognosis is a very important element as it will determine the extent of compensation a claimant is likely to receive. Some claimants wish to wait until the end of the expert’s prognosis to make sure they are fully recovered prior to starting the negotiation process and settling their claim. However, some do not and wish to settle as soon as possible. If a claimant chooses the latter, it is important to bear in mind that once an offer has been agreed, it is on a full and final basis. This means that if the claimant accepts an offer but then does not recover in line with the prognosis, then they are not allowed to come back to their solicitor and ask for more compensation.
The amount of compensation a claim could receive really depends on the nature of the accident and the seriousness of the injuries.
In addition to general damages, claimants are entitled to be awarded compensation for financial losses resulting from the accident, this head of loss is known as Special Damages.
When claiming Special Damages claimants have to provide sufficient evidence in order to support their losses. Without any documentary evidence, the losses they have incurred are unlikely to be considered by the third party insurers. It is therefore extremely important that claimants keep records and receipts of any expense incurred as the solicitor will request such evidence.
Examples of Special Damages are:-
- Loss of earnings
- Future loss of earnings
- Travel expenses
- Medical expenses
- Care and assistance
- Rehabilitation treatments recommended by the medico-legal experts such as physiotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy
- Repair or replacement of damaged property
- Future recommended treatments such as dental treatment
Unlike general damages, formulating special damages is more straightforward because it takes into account all the expenses the claimant has incurred.
If you have suffered an injury due to no fault of your own and would like to speak to our specialist team of personal injury solicitors please call us on 0808 252 5231 or if you prefer to email, please use our contact form.