When someone has suffered an injury and brings a claim for compensation the aim of any award of damages are generally to put the victim back to the position (as closely as possible) he or she was in had the incident not occurred. Damages are usually measured by the extent of the injury.
In compensation awards for personal injury claims, damages can be grouped into two categories – general damages and special damages.
General damages are awarded to compensate for the direct effects of the accident, where the claimant’s injuries can be clearly linked to the defendant’s actions or behaviour. Special damages are awarded to compensate for actual out-of-pocket expenses that a claimant has incurred as a direct result of the defendant’s actions or behaviour.
Compensation for the injury itself is referred to as “General Damages” for Pain Suffering and Loss of Amenity (PSLA). This is assessed by reference to tariffs set out in the Judicial College Guidelines. Solicitors also look to previous cases to compare past awards made for similar injuries. Unfortunately, there is no exact science when calculating general damages awards and no two cases are the same.
Financial losses are referred to as “Special Damages”. Theses losses are broken down into two further categories; past losses (losses that have already been incurred) and future losses (losses and expenses which will be incurred at a later date).
Common examples of special damages include:
The above list is not exhaustive. Unlike general damages, calculating special damages is much more straightforward because it is based on actual expenses. It also takes into account future costs that arise out of the person’s injuries.
Often in multi-million-pound injury settlements the settlements are so high as generally the injured person has had to give up work due to his or her injury and the largest part of the claim is the claim for past and future loss of earnings. What is surprising to most clients is the low awards made for the injury itself.
An orthopaedic injury to the back might recover within weeks or months. On the other hand, permanent symptoms of severe pain, disability, sexual and bowel/bladded functions can make these injuries genuinely catastrophic. Where recovery is made within three months an award of up to £2,300 can be made but in cases of the most severe injury involving damage to the spinal cord and nerve roots an award of up to £151,070 can be expected.
In everyday conversation, “head injury” tends to be used to describe simple bumps to the head rather than injuries with long-term consequences. The “PSLA” valuation of that type of injury tends to be anything between £2,000 – £11,000 depending on how long symptoms last.
Compensation for brain injuries depends on the severity of the brain damage. PSLA awards up to £379,100 but invariably the past and future special damages push the value of these catastrophic injuries into millions of pounds.
As with back injuries, awards vary depending on the severity of the injury and whether there are any complications. For a simple fracture of the forearm an award of around £6000 up to £18000 could be made. However, where the injury is severe and leaves the injured person little better off than if the arm had been lost, for example, a serious brachial plexus injury, an award of up to £122,860 could be made.
For simple fractures to Tibia or Fibula or Soft Tissue Injuries where there are some ongoing minor symptoms such as dull aching and/or modest restriction of movement and award of up to £11,110 can be expected but where there has been a simple fracture with a complete recovery, an award of less than £8,550 can be justified. For the most severe legal fractures short of amputation courts have awarded damages at up to £127,530.
Member since: 10th September 2020
I am a senior solicitor at Aston Knight Solicitors. I specialise in serious personal injury cases and have a special interest in catastrophic injury claims
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