Can I Still Make A Personal Injury Compensation Claim If I Already Have A Disability?
Posted on 7th April 2020
An award for Personal Injury is legally defined as a claim for Pain, Suffering and Loss of Amenity – in other words, the award not only compensates for the injury itself, but for the impact on the individual’s enjoyment of life.
So, what happens when the injured person is disabled and so has a limit on what they can “enjoy” in their life already? MG Legal, your Personal Injury Solicitor Garstang, has acted for people with disabilities and so, we are ideally placed to answer this question.
Disability does not mean you cannot make a claim
Everyone has the same rights, if we are injured as a result of an act of negligence that was someone else’s fault, we are all entitled to make a claim for Personal Injury and any associated losses.
So, what is the starting point?
The starting point is, with everyone, your Pre-Incident Condition. It makes no difference if you are one of the fittest athletes on the planet (think Cristiano Ronaldo or Mo Farah) or someone with severe disabilities (think the late, great physics genius Stephen Hawking) all injuries are taken on their individual merits.
If either of the two mentioned athletes lost a foot, it would be catastrophic for them, as it would likely take away their living and their greatest love in life. If either of them lost a hand, it would still warrant a sizeable award, but nowhere near as much as they can still continue to compete and enjoy their favourite activities. The opposite is true of Mr Hawking, the loss of a foot would be an injury and a minor inconvenience, still warranting compensation however, the loss of a hand meaning he could no longer use his specially designed chair, would be catastrophic.
A matter of perspective
As detailed above, each injury is taken on its individual merits and it is purely a matter of perspective. One mans minor inconvenience is another mans life-changing injury, there is no ‘quick-reference’ table to value an injury.
How are injuries valued?
The first port-of-call is always the Judicial Studies Board Guidelines (JSB), a reference book which is updated every couple of years using recent awards from the Court for every conceivable type of injury. The JSB gives a broad bracket of awards for injuries, spanning a few thousand pounds for less severe injuries such as soft tissue neck and back injuries and tens of thousands of pounds for more severe injuries such as loss of limbs, internal injuries and severe scarring.
From there, it is necessary to work out the impact of the injuries on the individual in question. The example using those in specialist fields above is fairly straight forward, however, there are wide variety of scenarios when injury can impact on those who are already, to some degree, unable to perform certain tasks.
An anonymised example
MG Legal, your Personal Injury Solicitor Garstang acted on behalf of an elderly lady with early-onset dementia, who needed daily visits from carers. She was, however, still capable of functioning in her own home with just those occasional visits, plus support from her family who visited daily and enjoying the house where she had lived for several decades.
During a brief stay in hospital, she suffered an injury as a result of insufficient staffing numbers and sustained a broken hip. Sadly, the impact of the injury was such that she was forced to most into a full-time nursing home.
MG Legal obtained evidence from an Orthopaedic Surgeon and a Geriatrician (a specialist in treating the elderly) who both agreed that the client could still have enjoyed another few years of life in her own home, prior to requiring full-time care, if the incident had not occurred and she had not broken her hip.
Our client received a total award in excess of £60,000.00, partially to compensate for the broken hip but a much larger apportionment to account for her loss of being able to live in her own home and the cost of having to pay, from her own funds, for the full-time care for a much longer period than she would otherwise have needed.
So, whilst the starting point was a disabled lady, destined for a care home in the future, it was her individual loss of amenity, the dignity of staying in her own home for a long as possible, that gave rise to the bulk of the award.
In short, we hope that this has illustrated we are all equal in the eyes of the Law and that MG Legal will truly consider each client on an individual basis.
How to instruct MG Legal?
If you have had any sort of accident which has caused you injury, contact MG Legal, your Personal Injury Solicitor Garstang, to discuss how we can help you. We aim to accept all Personal Injury claims on a Conditional Fee Agreement (no win, no fee agreement) basis to ensure that you have access to the representation you need.
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