If you have been unfortunate enough to have suffered personal injury in an accident or incident that was someone else’s fault, you will probably be aware that you can claim for personal injury compensation. What you may not be aware of is exactly what you can claim for.
There are two elements to personal injury compensation claims, which are:
- General Damages Compensation for your injuries/pain and suffering
- Special Damages Compensation for financial losses/out of pocket expenses
General Damages: Compensation for Pain, Suffering and Loss of Amenity
The amount of compensation you can receive for your pain and suffering (for example, for a broken wrist, neck or back pain), can vary depending on the type of injury you have suffered, the severity of the injury and the timescale over which your injuries are likely to persist.
The long-term effects of your injury and the extent to which it has caused disruption to your life, both now and in the future, are also factors that are taken into consideration when assessing the value of your injuries. It will be necessary to obtain independent medical evidence to support the injuries you have sustained as a result of an accident.
Personal injury compensation is calculated by using published guidelines for personal injury claims, and by considering awards made in cases previously decided by the Courts for injuries similar to your own.
Special Damages: Compensation for Financial Losses/Out of Pocket Expenses
There are many ways in which an injury may impact you financially – some more obvious than others.
Below are some examples of the types of financial loss that you have may suffered as a result of being injured:
- Past loss of earnings – this will include any loss of earnings you have sustained whilst being absent from work, or whilst working reduced hours. A claim for lost earnings may be more complicated if you are self-employed, a seasonal worker or if you work irregular overtime.
- Future loss of earnings – you may no longer able to work at all, or you may have to change your job to a lesser paid role, or work less hours because of your injuries.
- Loss of congenial employment – if you are unable to continue working in a job that you love and have to stop work or change jobs, you may be able to claim additional compensation for this.
- Disadvantage on the open labour market – if your injuries mean that you lose your current job, and that it’s now more difficult for you to find another job than it would have been before you were injured, you may be able to claim additional compensation for this.
- Pension loss – if you or your employer (or both) stop making pension contributions, either due to your absence from work or as a result of having to stop work because of your injuries, this may affect your pension entitlement when you start to draw it.
- Care and assistance – you may require a short or long period of additional care, or even permanent care, from either professional carers or from family and friends. Even if you require short-term care or assistance from family or friends immediately following an accident, it may still possible to claim for their time.
- Damage to clothing or other personal effects – if you have damaged items in an accident, such as personal effects that were in your car, or clothing that was cut off at hospital or ruined by something such as oil or dirt, then you may be able to recover the cost of these items.
- Treatment costs – you may have paid for private treatment from a physiotherapist, osteopath or chiropractor, or you may have purchased equipment or aids to assist you. A medical expert would need to confirm that these costs were necessary and reasonable.
- Prescriptions/over the counter medication – you may have had to pay for prescriptions for pain killers or other medication, or purchased over the counter medication. You may require medication on a long-term basis into the future.
- Travelling costs – you may have had to pay for taxis or public transport that you would not ordinarily have done.
- Hire car costs – you may have had to hire a car privately as a result of your car not being drivable or whilst repairs are carried out.
- Loss of use of vehicle – if you are unable to drive your car as a result of damage sustained in a road traffic accident, you may be able to claim for a period of time that you are without a vehicle.
- DIY/maintenance/housekeeping costs – you may no longer be able to carry out jobs that you would have done yourself had you not been injured, such as gardening, decorating/DIY or car maintenance. If you’ve had to pay somebody to do this for you or ask family and friends to assist, you may be able to recover the cost.
- Housing costs – in more serious injury claims, you may require adaptions to your property to enable you to live there safely, such as handrails, ramps or stair-lifts. You may also need to make more significant alterations to your home such as moving bedrooms downstairs and installing a wet-room. In some circumstances your home may no longer be suitable for your needs at all and you may have to purchase a new home.
The above isn’t a full list of the types of things you may be able to claim for, but is aimed to provide some guidance if you are considering making a personal injury claim.
Your Co-op Personal Injury Solicitor will be able to advise you as to whether a particular loss can be claimed and what evidence may be required to support that aspect of your claim.
It is important when bringing a personal injury claim that you keep all invoices, receipts and other documentary evidence, so you can help prove any losses you have suffered.
At Co-op Legal services most claims can be dealt with on a No Win No Fee basis.
Kelly Rajfeld is a Personal Injury Team Leader with over twenty years’ experience dealing with personal injury claims for road accidents, work accidents, occupiers liability and public liability claims both pre and post litigation.