How Is My Personal Injury Claim Valued?
Posted on 11th May 2020
When making a Personal Injury Claim, there is always some level of disagreement between parties about certain aspects, including your injuries. If this wasn’t the case, nobody would need to make a claim, you would just be paid out a sum of your choosing, and there would be no need to instruct your local personal injury solicitors to act on your behalf. MG Legal, your Personal Injury Solicitor in Garstang, looks at the line between putting forward a strong case based on fact and overstepping the mark with exaggerated evidence.
This is exactly what happened in the case of Morrow v Shrewsbury Rugby Football Union Club where Mr Morrow was successful but was not as successful as he wanted to be. The Court believed that Mr Morrow overstepped the mark in his representations, causing the claim to proceed for longer and at greater expense than might otherwise have been the case.
How does the process work?
In terms of valuing your claim, some aspects can be quantified easily, your month off work can be calculated by using your previous wage slips, the cost of your physiotherapy is the total of the invoices from your physiotherapist.
Some aspects, particularly your injuries themselves and the effects on your life are more difficult to quantify. For this, the first port-of-call is always expert medical evidence. From the opinions of experts, a base-line opinion can be formed and a rough idea of the value of the claim can be assessed.
However, outside certain physical assessments, x-rays, MRI scans etc., there is still a degree of reliance upon the Claimant, to advise how an injury affects them, if it still hurts, what they can and cannot do.
How does the claim reach a final valuation?
From the medical evidence and the Claimant’s own advice on their life post-injury, calculations are made as to the projected effect on their life. Most claims are financially based, whether in terms of lost future earnings, care costs or adaptations this is all effectively reduced to a sum of money.
If, for example, someone can no longer work in a certain field, imagine Cristiano Ronaldo lost a leg, his earnings would be reduced and so the Defendant would have a duty to compensate for this. Mr Ronaldo may have 3 or 4 years of playing time left in him and so, he could rightly be compensated for those years of lost income. If, say, Harry Kane suffered the same injury, he might have 13 years of playing time, so his losses would be, potentially, much higher. These are, however, easily quantifiable because you either have a leg, or you do not. So what happens when both footballers break a leg and one says he can go back to playing at full potential and one says he cannot?
The Claimant and Defendant representatives then, as they are almost duty bound to do, enter negotiations where each party begins making offers and arguments about their point of view until, hopefully, the case reaches a point of mutual agreement.
What happens if this is not the case?
The Court always has the final say in these matters, based on a combination of the medical evidence and the testimony of the Claimant. Most medical experts, when questioned, will answer along the lines of “if the Claimant’s evidence is found to be accurate, then my opinion is…..”.
So, if Mr Kane and Mr Ronaldo both tell the truth and the Court find that they are both being truthful; they will receive commensurate awards, both for the time they cannot play football and based on rough retirement age. If one were to exaggerate their claim and the Court disbelieved them, they could face consequences ranging from a reduction in their damages to a dismissal of the entire claim and an Order to pay the Defendant’s costs in full. Given both are footballers who seem to love their job, this is unlikely. But in the more mundane world, it is not unknown for people to see an opportunity to retire early and to overstep the mark in their evidence.
So what did Mr Morrow do?
Mr Morrow, a Financial Advisor, stated that he believed he could no longer work as a Financial Advisor due to the incident and the injuries he sustained when he was hit on the head by a falling metal post. The Defendant claimed that the effects were exaggerated and that any issues were due to an unrelated medical condition which pre-dated the incident.
The Defendant made a Part 36 offer of £110,000.00. Mr Morrow’s Solicitor took their client’s instruction, reviewed the medical evidence in their possession, and countered the Defendant’s offer, with one of £800,000.00. The Court, deciding that Mr Morrow had exaggerated his injuries but that they were still, to some degree, serious, awarded him £286,000.00.
As Mr Morrow’s personal injury solicitors acted on his instruction, they were not criticised, and because the claim clearly had some merit, the claim was not one that could, or should be dismissed. As the Defendant had not made an offer above that which the Court awarded and thus their best offer was beaten, subject to the usual terms of Part 36 of the civil procedure rules they were unable to recover any costs via the usual routes. The Defendant did raise arguments as to Mr Morrow’s conduct in so over exaggerating his claim that it had required far longer to progress in the legal system.
The Judge made an Order that Mr Morrow was to have his recoverable legal fees reduced by 15%, effectively rewarding the Defendant with a reduced bill to pay whilst penalising Mr Morrow by rendering him liable for 15% of his own legal fees to be paid from his damages.
The difference between tactical negotiation and overselling your claim
If you tell the truth to a medical expert and to your Solicitor, here at MG Legal, your Personal Injury Solicitor in Garstang, we will maximise the value of your claim using our wealth of experience and tactical negotiation – this is what is expected of any legal representative.
What we always ask of our clients is that they provide honest and consistent information to their Solicitor and to any Medical Experts and we will make the best out of your claim. Leave the tactical aspects of the claim to those who know how to work within the rules as we can protect you from any such adverse costs consequences.
The line is drawn when you, as the Claimant, give a version of events that is not accurate and so, cannot allow a fair consideration of the case by either party’s legal representative or the Court. There is nothing wrong with arguing over interpretations of the truth, provided the truth is there in the first place.
What to do if I have a Personal Injury Claim?
Should you have sustained a Personal Injury, or have any other type of legal matter, please contact MG Legal, your Personal Injury Solicitor in Garstang, to discuss how we can help you. We aim to accept all Personal Injury matters on a Conditional Fee Agreement (no win, no fee agreement) and all other matters on a fixed fee basis wherever possible. Please get in touch with us at our offices in Garstang, Lancaster or Longridge and we will put you in touch with the correct department immediately to ensure you receive the advice and representation you deserve.
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