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How is my Claim Valued?

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In my time as a personal injury solicitor I’ve been asked countless times how claims are valued. I often hear the phrase, “but my friend got (x) amount and he only had a minor injury”. It’s easy to understand why so many clients get confused as to how much their claim is worth. The process itself is quite subjective and entirely depends on the circumstances of the individual’s case. To add some clarity, I’ve explained the process below.

The value of your claim is decided by reference to two separate types of compensation:

1. General Damages

This is a term used to describe compensation for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity caused by your injuries and other aspects of a claim for which there is no precise valuation method. It is intended to provide you with compensation for exactly that.

2. Special Damages

This can also be referred to as your ‘out of pocket expenses’. This refers to your financial losses of aspects of your compensation claim for which a monetary value already exists. Special damages claims usually include items such as car repair charges, car hire, loss of earnings, medical expenses, travel expenses, treatment costs and claims for care and assistance. It is essential that you keep a record of any expense you incur, and, where possible, documentary evidence as well.

How We Value Personal Injury Claims

Unlike some other firms, we will not use a broad brush approach when valuing your claim. After all, this is your claim and it will have affected you in a different way than it would somebody else. We think it is crucial for us to get to know each and every one of our clients. At the outset of your claim, we take detailed information from you in relation to who you are, your injuries and the things you have not been able to do as a result. For example, this can include the household chores and any hobbies such as going to the gym or playing football.

In a nutshell, we want to know how your injuries have affected you so that we can be better negotiators when it comes to settling your claim. Your special damages are relatively easy to calculate as there are specific figures often used from receipts. However, your claim for general damages is valued based on your injuries and the prognosis provided by the medical expert. For a starting point, we use guidelines which have been drawn up by Judges called the Judicial College Guidelines. These provide a general value bracket for your injury. After this, we search case law where other claimants have suffered similar injuries that have already been decided by the courts. We will then review your particular circumstances and add value to your claim if necessary.

For example, we obtained a higher award for a client who suffered repetitive strain injury than his injury would have attracted due to the fact that he went on his honeymoon soon after having surgery. He was restricted as to what he could do whilst he was there and could not ride jet skis as planned. We were therefore able to obtain an extra award for the loss of enjoyment he suffered whilst on his honeymoon. Another example of a claim where we recovered a higher award from getting to know our client is where we knew the claimant was due to start a new job on the week following the accident. Imagine that; being in excruciating pain but still having to turn up for work and impress! Acknowledgement of this specific difficulty was reflected in the eventual compensation award.

 

By: Lesley Layton