Claim valuations are affected by a number of things. The injury claim value comes under what is called general damages, whilst out-of-pocket expenses come under special damages.
Special damages have a fixed value. They relate to costs that you have already incurred, such as the cost of repairing your car following an accident.
When valuing a claim, special damages can play a bigger part than most people would think. Unfortunately many personal injury lawyers overlook most items which come under the category of special damages, perhaps because they do not spend enough time on the file, or maybe because they themselves underestimate their value.
In our experience, most personal injury lawyers simply do not explain to clients properly just what special damages are, so it is no surprise that many people do not include these costs as part of their claim. If that happens, their overall claim settlement can be significantly lower than it should be!
So what exactly are these special damages that you can claim for?
If the cost of vehicle repairs has not already been met by the other side, it should always be included as part of your claim. This does not just apply to car repairs, as it could mean bicycle repair or repair to another kind of vehicle.
If, for example, you had personal possessions inside your car at the time of an accident, and they were damaged, then cost of repair or replacement should be included in your claim.
If you were unable to drive your own vehicle following an accident or are without your vehicle whilst repairs are carried out, then it may be necessary to hire a replacement vehicle. Whilst it is very important to keep cost to a minimum, you should certainly be claiming for this if hire is necessary.
Loss of Earnings
If you are forced to take time off work as a result of your injuries and you are not paid for your time off, then your lost wages can and should be claimed for. You can also claim for the value of annual leave if you used this instead of taking sick leave.
Following an accident you may need to travel to see your doctor, the hospital, physiotherapy or other treatment sessions, medical examinations and so on. You can claim for either the actual cost of the trip if you used public transport or a mileage rate if you travelled in your own vehicle, for any trips that were necessary and as a direct result of the accident.
Treatment & Medication Costs
If you received or paid for treatment such as physiotherapy, acupuncture or counselling sessions that are as a direct result of your accident, then you can claim for the cost of them. You can also claim for the cost of any prescription or over-the-counter medication to manage your symptoms.
Care & Assistance
If you are unable to do things for yourself following your accident, you can claim an hourly rate for all of the time that other people have done things on your behalf. For example, if you could no longer manage your own housework, you can claim for the time that a friend or relative has spent doing your housework for you.
The above list is not exhaustive. There may well be other costs that you have incurred as a direct result of your accident. An example of another type of cost that you could have reasonably incurred, is the cost of a holiday that you had booked and were unable to go on, if you were not able to get a refund. Generally speaking, as long as the cost is reasonably incurred, and is caused because of the accident, then you should include this in your claim.
With all claims for special damages, it is important to support the claim with as much evidence as possible. This means keeping hold of receipts for expenses, keeping track of mileage and time for travel and care claims respectively.
Claims for special damages are nearly always seen as a point of negotiation by the other side. Therefore it is crucial to back up these claims with everything possible, in order to ensure that your claim is not dismissed out of hand.
That said, if we present what we feel is a good claim and the other side refuses to deal with it, we always have the option of taking the case to court, but naturally wherever possible we look to avoid that.
General damages are what most people think about when working out their injury claim value. The value for the injury part of your claim comes under general damages, because it doesn’t have a fixed value like special damages do.
To work out the true injury claim value, it starts with looking at the approximate value for the injury alone. It is difficult to put a specific value on someone’s pain and suffering though, so a set of guidelines are used (called the JSB Guidelines).
These guidelines determine upper and lower brackets for which injuries are usually valued. The severity of the injury and the recovery time determine where your claim will fall within the brackets.
For example, a typical whiplash injury to the neck would be considered to be a minor neck injury. The injury claim value for this is stated as a few hundred pounds to £1,705 in the guidelines, where a recovery is made within a few months. A more serious neck injury, or one that takes longer to resolve, could be valued higher.
These guidelines are frequently updated, so the best way to get a realistic injury claim value is to contact us.
Example Injury Claim Value
To give you an idea of how we would calculate an injury claim value, here is a fictional example of a typical claim:
John is 31 and is a construction worker earning around £500 per week after tax. He is involved in a road traffic accident which is not his fault. He suffers whiplash to his neck and pain in his lower back as a result of the accident. As a result of the accident, he attends at hospital and is referred for physiotherapy. He is given some strong painkillers. John is unable to work for 3 weeks, during which he is not paid.
At home, John normally cooks the evening meal and does the dishes. He also does the shopping once a week. He plays football once a week with friends and goes to the gym 3 times per week. His life is on hold because he can no longer do these things due to his injuries. He starts the physiotherapy sessions straight away and has a session once per week.
After 2 weeks, John’s painkillers run out so he goes to see his GP and is given a prescription for stronger painkillers. These are more effective and the pain starts to reduce. After 3 weeks he returns to work on light duties. This takes a lot out of him and he still cannot do the things around the house or in his leisure time.
6 weeks after the accident, John’s pain has reduced to the extent that he can now return to his normal activities, although he still has some symptoms. He continues with physiotherapy and has a total of 8 sessions. It is 3 months before he is pain-free.
Now let’s have a look at how a good lawyer will calculate John’s claim:
The Injury Itself
Max Value for Neck Injury = £1,705
Max Value for Back Injury (calculated at around 20% of the main injury) = £341
Total = £2,046
Loss of Earnings
3 weeks at £500 per week = £1,500
Total = £1,500
1 x 10 mile round trip to A&E
1 x 2 mile round trip to GP
8 x 6 mile round trip to Physiotherapy
60 miles at £0.45 per mile = £27
10 x Car Parking at £2 each visit = £20
Total = £47
1 x Prescription Fee = £8
Total = £8
Cooking evening meal and doing dishes = 1 hour per day for 21 days
Shopping = 3 hours per week for 3 weeks
30 hours care provided claimed at £6 per hour = £180
Total = £180
Loss of Use of Gym Membership
6 weeks loss of use at £30 per month = £42
Total = £42
Total Injury Claim Value = £3,823
This total amount is almost double the value that might have been claimed if just the injury was taken into account. This is why getting the right lawyer is so important! The above example assumes that the vehicle repairs and a replacement vehicle were provided by the other side, but if not, then those costs would also likely have been included as part of your total claim value.
One last thing to consider. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, claims must be started at court within 3 years of the accident, or they are known as statute barred, which means basically that too long has passed since the accident for you to claim. If were injured some time ago and want to claim but have not yet done so, then you could be jeopardising your chances of success. If you are unsure about making a claim and have some questions, click here to contact us and we’ll do our best to give you the answers you’re looking for.