Personal Injury lawyers hear this sort of comment a lot, usually when we advise a client how much their claim is worth and they tell us that someone they know received more compensation for what they believe to be the same injury.
They may well be right, because everyone is different and similar injuries may result in very different outcomes between people.
Pain, Suffering and Loss of Amenity
The award of damages for the injury itself, known as “Pain, Suffering and Loss of Amenity” is tailored to the individual. If a middle-aged man was left with a 3cm scar on his forehead, it would be worth around £2000, but if a young person in their teens had the same injury, it might be worth £10,000 or more to them, particularly if it caused great embarrassment leading to psychological conditions such as anxiety and depression. Courts have always tended to award more compensation to females with visible scars than men with similar injuries.
If a person suffers a “whiplash” type injury to their neck and back and recovers within 6 months, they might recover £2500, but to another person it might be valued by a Court in a higher sum, for example, it happened just before their wedding or holiday of a lifetime or prevented them taking part in something they had been looking forward to for along time like a sporting event. Such an injury would cause more pain and distress to, say, a pregnant woman or a person with pre-existing conditions such as arthritis so they would be awarded more compensation than the average client.
The amounts of personal injury awards are not fixed (apart from in criminal injury cases) and if the parties cannot agree a settlement, a Judge will decide how much a claim is worth. Judges vary in their approach to cases and some are more likely to award higher sums than others, so how much you receive in compensation may depend on which Judge hears your case.
Awards are also affected by the amount of earnings lost by the injured Claimant. In the “whiplash” example, a person earning £400 per week net of tax who is off work for 2 weeks should have £800 included in their award for loss of earnings whereas a person who is not employed would not recover anything under that head of damages. A person earning £250 net per week would only recover £500 for loss of earnings, again making a difference between people with an almost identical injury.
Care and assistance
Personal injury damages may include sums for unpaid care and assistance provided by relatives and friends as well as sums paid to others to carry out work that the injured person would have done themselves such as gardeners, decorators, cleaners, builders and the like. Person A who lives alone may receive less care than Person B who lives with a partner that assists them for say 100 hours during the early stages of their recovery, which would make a significant difference to the awards they received.
If the victim was injured just before a holiday which was ruined by their condition, then they will be able to recover part of the cost of the trip in their damages. If person A was going to Barbados for two weeks, they would probably recover more than person B who was going for a weekend caravan holiday on the East Coast as the holidays would have different values.
These are just some examples of how personal injury awards vary from person to person and why two people with very similar injuries may recover very different amounts of damages.
The best way to maximise your damages is to instruct an experienced personal injury solicitor, preferably one who will be able to see you face-to-face and take detailed instructions from you on your losses. That way you are likely to be the one that your friends say “got more than I did”
If you have would like some advice then call our expert Solicitors on 0114 218 4000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.