Information on how much compensation you can claim
There are a lot of misconceptions about what you can and can't claim for when you have suffered an injury in an accident, and just how much you should expect to receive in compensation for such an accident. We will try and cover the basics here, so you will know what your solicitor is talking about, and try and give you some examples of the range of damages that certain injuries attract.
General & Special Damages
You are entitled to be compensated for all the losses that you have suffered as a result of the accident, which may include damage to your clothing and property, loss of earnings and any insurance excess you may have. If you have been injured in a car accident and your car is now off the road you can also probably claim for a hire car.
In addition you should be compensated for the pain and suffering that you have gone through as a result of the accident and the the consequent injury an can make a car accident claim. Finally you can also claim for any future losses you may suffer, of example an inability to work, loss of promotion prospects, and perhaps an inability to take part in certain sports or hobbies.
Lawyers like to split the amount of compensation you should receive (damages) into two separate categories called General and Special Damages. Basically Special Damages are all those which are easily quantifiable - loss of earnings, medical expenses, taxi fares, ruined clothes etc. Try and make sure you keep a record of any additional expenses that you incur (including receipts if you can), as this will ensure you do not forget any and that your solicitor can claim them back on your behalf.
General Damages are the more difficult as these have to be "assessed" ie some monetary value has to be placed on the pain and suffering that you have gone through, your possible future loss of earnings and how the injury may affect your general lifestyle in the future. It is an imprecise art, which depends a lot on you as an individual, your circumstances and how you recover the injuries you have.
In order to get some guidance lawyers (including judges) look at past cases (precedents) which are similar (no two cases are ever the same!), and the level of general damages awarded and use these as a guideline (having increased the figures to allow for inflation). A simple whiplash injury for example which causes you pain and inconvenience for say 3/4 weeks might be worth anything from £1,000 - £3,000 in general damages.
In addition the Judicial Studies Board, which provides training and instruction for all judges in England & Wales periodically issues guidelines for the assessment of General Damages in personal injury cases. Just to give you some idea of the figures that are considered appropriate here are some details from the latest 2002 Guidelines. Be warned they make garish reading.
Arm InjuriesLoss of both armsFrom £125,000 to £155,000Loss of one armNot less than £72,500 (below the shoulder); £57,500 - £67,500 (above elbow); £50,000 - £57,500 (below elbow).Severe arm injury rendering it effectively useless£50,000 - £67,500Permanently disabled arm£20,000 - £31,000Less severe arm injury£10,000 - £20,000Fracture of the forearm£3,500 - £10,000Complete loss of function of the wrist£24,750 - £31,000Disabled wrist£12,750 - £20,000Less severe, but persistent pain/stiffness in the wrist£6,500 - £12,750Colles' fracture of the wrist£4,000
Leg InjuriesTotal loss of both legsFrom £125,000 - £145,000Below knee amputation of both legs£82,960 - £103,710Above knee amputation of one leg£50,000 - £72,500Below knee amputation of one leg£47,500 - £67,500Serious knee injury£36,000 - £50,000Torn cartilage or miniscus, dislocation, ligamentous damage in the knee£7,750 - £14,000Fractured ankle causing difficulty walking over uneven ground, awkwardness on stairs and residual scarring£7,000 - £14,000
Remember these are only guidelines (and generally agreed to be quite conservative). If you do want to do some research yourself you will usually find a copy of Kemp & Kemp - Quantum of Damages in your local reference library (three large yellow tomes), which gives case and injury details in various sections.