One of the most common questions put to us asks what decides a fair settlement value for a claim. There are two basic factors that your solicitor will use to evaluate your claim and reach a value on your settlement: injury severity, and special damages.
The severity of the injury
The amount of compensation for the injury itself will be decided on medical evidence and the severity of the injury, and how that affects your life. Clearly, the more severe the injury, the higher the level of compensation. In most circumstances, your injury will need to last a minimum of a few weeks. This element of your settlement consists of the value of the injury and the pain, distress and discomfort caused as a result of the injury and accident. An expert medical opinion will be sought to corroborate the details and the value will depend on whether the injury will heal, if so how long a recovery will take or if not, what level of recovery will be made.
Your solicitor will access your medical records and then organise for a specialist independent medical expert to interview you and assess your injury and what prognosis can be attached to your recovery. Upon receipt of a report from the expert, your solicitor will be able to tell how much compensation you can expect to receive for the injury.
Special damages is a term used to describe the additional elements of any claim. This will include lost income should the injury sustained by a claimant prevent them from working their normal hours and lose income. Clearly, if an injury is extremely serious and an injured person is no longer able to work, their claim value can become very high. An ongoing loss of income claim will cover the income the claimant would have expected for the remainder of their working life.
Special damages can also include sums for future medical treatment, ongoing care or adaptations to a claimants home, car or equipment needed by the claimant. It can also include small items such as property or clothing lost or damaged as a result of the accident and injury. This would normally include jewellery or items such as spectacles or mobile phones smashed or broken in falls.
To sum up, special damages could include:
- Loss of wages or earning ability
- Requirements for post accident care and support
- Medical costs
- Out of pocket expenses
- Lifestyle changes
- Personal losses
Injuries carry case law precedent values – this means that previous cases heard in court have decided levels of compensation and that similar future claims should be based on that precedent. From this your solicitor can work out the minimum and maximum value of the claim for the injuries and any ongoing care or treatment requirements.
To add to this, your solicitor will ask you for information on your lost income, cost of care or products purchased for you as a result of your accident. These factors provide the basis for the evaluation of your claim.