Valuing A Claim For Personal Injuries: It’s Not An Exact Science
I have been practising personal injury law and obtaining compensation for victims of accidents for nearly 30 years.
I understand that no amount of money can ever compensate an individual for say, the loss of a limb, loss of a family member, loss of capacity (acquired brain injury).
The way in which the law has developed is to put the injured person back in the position they would have been had the accident not happened. This involves an award of compensation for the injury and financial losses that the injury directly causes.
The most often asked questions when discussing a claim with a prospective client are: Can you help me get better? How long will it take? How much will I get?
Can you help me get better?
The answer is yes. In my practice before I consider how long and how much, I know that to get the best outcome, in terms of recovery, for the seriously injured person and their family, is immediate and early rehabilitation funded by the insurers of the negligent person.
A specialist personal injury solicitor like myself will contact the insurers and seek their engagement in rehabilitation. The first step will be to open a dialogue to arrange an immediate needs assessment (INA) report carried out by a jointly appointed Occupational Therapist.
The INA will set out the level of help needed in the early stages of rehabilitation with funding for physiotherapy, CBT, adaptions to the home, supplementing statutory care.
The costs of the rehabilitation will sit outside of the claim for compensation and will be paid for by the responsible party’s insurance company.
How long will it take?
That is probably one of the most difficult questions to answer for any specialist personal injury solicitor as each case (and injured person) are different.
It is always hard to give an accurate response at the early stages of a case as it very much depends upon the speed of recovery and prognosis given by the medical expert or experts.
It is dangerous to settle a case without finalised medical evidence which gives an accurate prognosis for future. It is only when we have that finalised medical evidence that we can then consider the next question properly.
How much will I get?
Valuing a personal injury is not an exact science but the way it has developed is as fairly as possible with consideration given to the individual, their injuries and needs and review of precedents and the Judicial College Guidelines.
These are previously decided cases of similar facts. Relevant cases will be reviewed based upon age, gender and extent of injuries. Of course no two injuries or individuals are the same. However legal precedents are very useful as they give an insight into how Judges ultimately value cases.
Judicial College Guidelines
These guidelines are the “go to” tool for personal injury practitioners and Judges alike. They are updated approximately every 2 years.
Judges use them in court when deciding the value of cases and your specialist personal injury solicitor uses them when advising clients on value.
The Judicial College Guidelines set out a tariff that is designed to cover all types of injuries imaginable.
The injuries are organised into body parts and then level of severity. The brackets given are usually very wide. Take the below as a quick example.
Amputations – loss of both legs is a range of £240,790.00 – £282,010.00. 1
This is the appropriate award where both legs are lost above the knee or one leg has been lost above the knee at a high level and the other leg has been lost below the knee. The level of award will be determined by factors such as the severity of any phantom pains; associated psychological problems; the success of any prosthetics; any side effects such as backache; and the risk of future degenerative changes in the hips and spine.
Amputations (below knee amputation of both legs) £201,490.00 – £270,100.00.2
The level of the amputations will be important, with an award at the top of the bracket appropriate where both legs are amputated just below the knee. Otherwise, the award will depend upon factors such as the severity of any phantom pains; associated psychological problems; the success of any prosthetics; any side effects such as backache; and the risk of developing degenerative changes in the remaining joints of both lower limbs or in the hips and spine.
Severe leg injuries (injuries short of amputation) £96,250.00 – £135,920.00.3
Some injuries, although not involving amputation, are so severe that the courts have awarded damages at a similar level. Such injuries would include extensive degloving of the leg, where there is gross shortening of the leg, or where fractures have not united and extensive bone grafting has been undertaken.
Less serious leg injuries (fractures from which an incomplete recovery is made or serious soft tissue injuries) £17,960.00 – £27,760.00.4
In the case of fracture injuries, the injured person will have made a reasonable recovery but will be left with a metal implant and/or defective gait, a limp, impaired mobility, sensory loss, discomfort or an exacerbation of a pre-existing disability. This bracket will also involve serious soft tissue injuries to one or both legs causing significant cosmetic deficit, functional restriction and/or some nerve damage in the lower limbs.
It is clear to see the brackets are very wide and the valuation depends upon the detail of the injury.
A specialist personal injury solicitor will discuss the case law and give you examples of the Judicial College Guidelines. They will then tell you what they believe your level of compensation will be for the injury.
As I said it’s not an exact science but your specialist personal injury solicitor will be using their many years’ experience to assess the value of your claim for injury.
If you have suffered a personal injury and would like to speak to one of our personal injury specialists please call 0808 271 9413 now. You can also use our personal injury calculator to give you an estimate of how much your claim might be.
1JCD 16th Ed.; Section (J) – Leg Injuries; (a) Amputations; (i) Loss of Both Legs
2JCD 16th Ed.; Section (J) – Leg Injuries; (a) Amputations; (ii) Below-knee Amputation of Both Legs
3JCD 16th Ed.; Section (J) – Leg Injuries; (b) Severe Leg Injuries; (i) The Most Serious Injuries Short of Amputation
4JCD 16th Ed.; Section (J) – Leg Injuries; (c) Less Severe Leg Injuries; (i) Fractures from which an Incomplete Recovery is Made or Serious Soft Tissue Injuries