If you’re thinking about opening personal injury legal proceedings, you’ll probably want to know how much compensation you can claim.
There’s no exact answer to this question and it will depend on the unique details of your individual circumstances. But you can get a rough idea of how much money you could be entitled to by understanding how personal injury compensation is calculated.
Personal injury compensation is intended to be proportionate to the extent of your suffering. This means that you can expect to be awarded compensation that increases in line with how bad your injuries are.
Types of damages
Personal injury compensation involves two types of damages:
- General damages – compensation for the pain and suffering caused by your injuries, including emotional damage, and how they have impacted your day-to-day life
- Special damages – compensation for any financial losses directly caused by your injuries
General damagesHealth and wellbeing aren’t things that we usually put a price on. So, it can seem strange to think about how much compensation your injuries or diseases might be worth. But this is essentially what general damages seek to do.
General damages reflect the ‘pain and suffering’ caused by your injuries – how they make you feel. While everyone feels pain differently, guidelines are set out by the Judicial College for how much compensation should be awarded for many of the possible types of accidental injuries and diseases.
What you can claim in general damages still depends on your individual circumstances, but personal injury claims are usually made within the ranges set out by the guidelines.
Here are some examples of general damages for different injuries.
Head injuriesVictims of head injuries can expect to receive compensation that’s at the upper end of the scale. This is because of the potential for any head injury to do damage to the brain.
Someone suffering from a mild head injury could expect to receive compensation of up to £10K. However, sufferers of major head damage could receive compensation amounting to hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Due to the potentially catastrophic effects of brain damage, there’s no limit to how much compensation you might be entitled to – it depends on the extent of the damage.
For instance, in 2013 the Great Ormand Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust paid a £2.8m lump sum to Maisha Najeeb after her brain was accidently injected with glue during treatment, causing devastating brain damage that left her in a wheelchair and needing around-the-clock care.
Back injuriesCompensation for back injuries can be similarly high. This is due to the risk of spinal damage that could cause severe mobility issues or even paralysis. Compensation for mild back injuries could be up to £10K while more severe cases could expect to receive compensation for upwards of £100K.
Neck injuriesCompensation for neck injuries tends to be high due to the possibility of causing serious mobility issues in the rest of the body. Compensation for mild neck injuries, such as whiplash, could be up to £6K. Compensation for major neck injuries that cause disability to other parts of the body could top £100K.
Hearing loss and tinnitusHearing loss and tinnitus is a common occupational disease, sometimes known as ‘industrial deafness’. The condition is permanent and, in severe cases, can result in a total loss of hearing. Compensation for mild hearing loss could be up to £6K while sufferers of severe hearing loss could expect to receive up to £40K.
Psychological injuriesCompensation for psychological injuries can vary widely depending on the degree of harm. For emotional problems that are temporary if treated, such as anxiety, compensation could be up to £10K. For severe or permanent issues, such as PTSD, sufferers could claim up to £50K.
Special damagesBeing injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault has far reaching consequences beyond the direct pain and suffering caused by your injuries.
The other type of damages that make up your compensation, known as special damages, reflect this by reimbursing you for any financial losses caused by your accident.
Many of the special damages you could be awarded are for things that have a clear financial value, but others are more complex.
Here are some examples of special damages that might apply to you.
Loss of earningsPart of your compensation will be for any loss of earnings you suffered as a direct result of your injuries. If your injuries made you unable to work for an extended period, your compensation will reimburse you for the money you would have earned during that time.
Your personal injury solicitor will work with medical professionals to determine how long your injuries made you unable to work to prove your claim.
Loss of future earningsIf your injuries have made it impossible for you to return to work, you could be compensated for the loss of your future earnings. This type of compensation is calculated by multiplying your yearly salary by the number of years you could reasonably have expected to remain in employment.
For instance, if you earned £20K a year and expected to remain in employment for a further 20 years, you would receive £400K as compensation for your loss of future earnings. This figure may also be increased to adjust for inflation.
Compensation for a loss of future earnings may be awarded to you as either a lump sum or in instalments.
Loss of potential earningsCompensation for a loss of potential earnings is sometimes awarded. This type of damages reflects the amount of money you were likely to have earned in the future, had it not been for your injuries.
This type of compensation can be more difficult to prove than the other loss of earnings damages but has been claimed successfully in the past.
For instance, Manchester United youth team player Ben Collett won a record £4.3m after suffering a career ending tackle. While Mr Collett was earning only £460 a week at the time, the large compensation award reflected his potential to play in the Premier League, the lucrative topflight of English football.
Extra expenses compensationYou may also receive compensation for any extra expenses you have had to pay because of your injuries. This includes the costs of treating your injuries as well as any modifications you needed to make to your home or car to accommodate them.
Extra expenses you could claim for include:
- Any medical care, treatment, travel, or accommodation costs
- Any modifications you have made (or may need to make) to your home or car
- Any rehabilitation programmes prescribed to you by a medical professional
- Any daily expenses caused by your injuries
Services compensationYou may be awarded services compensation if your injuries have made you dependant on extra care to go about your daily life. For instance, you may need a nurse to visit you several times a day to help you dress and prepare food.
Services compensation may still be awarded to you even if the care you received was given to you voluntarily by your family and friends.
How much personal injury compensation can I claim?Once your personal injury solicitor has accepted your case, they will help you to gather all the appropriate medical evidence you will need to prove your claim. They will then start negotiating with the other side.
At this point, your personal injury solicitor will give you an idea of how much compensation you might receive if your claim is successful.
You can find personal injury solicitors on The Law Superstore to help you get your personal injury claim started.