Large Awards For Personal Injury Claims Are Not Lottery Wins
Posted on 30th March 2020
Every so often, a newspaper will report of a six or seven figure award to someone following a personal injury compensation claim. This is often trumpeted as a “life changing” amount of money and so it is, but not for the reason that many people think. MG Legal, your personal injury solicitors Lancaster, would not wish injury on anyone but, it does happen and we are here for you when things go wrong.
What results in such a large award?
Our bodies are not, when all is said and done, worth that much in terms of injury. Loss of a limb has an award of around £100,000.00 and if you are only missing a portion of that limb the awards can be even lower. This is, given you are now missing an arm or a leg not that much money seeing as £100,000.00 doesn’t buy a particularly big house, or a flat for that matter. Personal Injury awards are, for the injury alone called “General Damages” and the award is for “Pain, Suffering and loss of Amenity”.
So, where does the rest of the award come from? Most of it comes from projecting the future impact on your life, this is part of what are called “Special Damages”. Special Damages make up the bulk of any catastrophic injury claim and usually, every personal injury claim will have some element of Special Damages, from the cost of a couple of packs of painkillers, to lost earning and maybe some care costs if the injured person couldn’t do everything for themselves for a while. Now imagine if that need was extended over the lifetime for someone who lost a limb or suffered brain damage. This is, ultimately, not the early retirement the newspapers paint it as being.
How this this calculated?
After the more standard medical evidence, usually from an Orthopaedic Surgeon or a Neurosurgeon in this type of persona injury claim, comes the assessments from Occupational Therapists and Assessors who will cost the necessary adaptations for the home. In some cases, there is a life-long daily need for care, home adaptations and potentially moving home if the current one is unsuitable.
Usually your personal injury solicitor will have several conferences with their client and experts to work out the likely cost of future adaptations, care and lost earnings. If, say, a 30-year-old construction worker can no longer work and has only limited prospects of employment in other fields, they will have an award based on the loss of 30+ years of lost income. This is, after all, money that person would have earned in their own right, working in their chosen field, rather than coping with the loss caused by a catastrophic, life-changing injury. Earning, say, £20,000.00 per year for 30 years amounts to £600,000.00 alone, so the award soon mounts up.
The figures are based on earning to date, anticipated career path, inflation, rate of interest on investment of any lump sum and a set of multiplier tables known as the Ogden Tables, specially designed to predict the length of time a person might need each level of assistance for.
How are awards paid?
Some awards are paid in one lump sum, but many are paid via secure funds accounts, a bit like a Trust Fund, as instalments over the course of many years. This replicates the presence of a salary, as might have been earned had the incident not occurred and provides a lifetime security for the injured person as well as ensuring the award is properly managed.
There is no precise science to this award
Even in more standard cases, a medical expert might give a prognosis for a recovery period of 12 months from a soft tissue injury to the neck. This prognosis being given, say, 3 months post-incident, is unlikely to be exact down to the day and unless the Claimant wishes to await the end of the 12 month period, the claim is settled on that basis, knowing that it will be somewhere between 10-14 months post incident that the full recovery actually takes place.
In the same way, in 2020 it is impossible to predict the exact needs of someone in 30 years’ time, how technology might develop or indeed how long they might live. So, the award is the best estimate that solicitors, experts, fault party and the Court can make based on current information.
The principle of the Civil Claims process
A Criminal case is designed to identify and prosecute the offender of a crime and give a sentence which is both a punishment and a deterrent to future offenders. The point of a Civil Claim is different, it is meant to put you in the position you would have been had the incident not occurred.
This is the reason the awards for the injury itself is relatively low, usually the pain and suffering are relatively short lived, it is the effects of the injury that live on. So, the initial General Damages reflects that it is impossible to turn back time and “un-injure” someone and so, the best that the law can do is to put some money in the place of the injury.
The remainder of the award is to cover money that would not have been spent if the incident had not occurred (care costs, treatment, adaptations etc) and to replace the money that will not be earned because the injured person cannot earn it. It is, therefore, far from a “Lottery win” as most of the money would have been either unnecessary or earned over the person’s lifetime in any event.
What should I do if I suffer an injury?
Contact MG Legal, your personal injury solicitors Lancaster, to discuss how we can help you with your claim. We act in all manner of personal injury claims including catastrophic injury cases and we have secured significant awards for clients in the past who have suffered life changing injuries.
All claims, regardless of value, are accepted on the basis of a Conditional Fee Agreement (no win, no fee agreement) to ensure that you have the access to the legal representation you need without worrying about finding money to pay legal fees at a traumatic time in your life.
We have an extensive network of experts, assessors and barristers, each tried and tested in their chosen field to ensure that your injuries, however simple or complex, are seen by the right person first time. At a difficult time in your life, we know that people want minimum trouble, whilst still ensuring they still receive the dedicated service required.
We are happy to hear from you by phone, email, web-contact form or at any of our offices in Lancaster, Garstang and Longridge. Get in touch with MG Legal, your personal injury solicitors Lancaster and we will discuss your claim with you in a personable but professional manner and look to get the ball rolling the same day.
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