The Personal Injury Blog

What Are “Special Damages” in Personal Injury Cases?

Compensation in Personal Injury cases is made up of two different types of loss, “General Damages” and “Special Damages”.

General Damages

General Damages relate to compensation received for pain, suffering and loss of amenity which have arisen from your physical and/or psychological suffering due to the accident. Simply speaking, it is for the effect of the injury, condition or disease sustained by the injured person. Since each accident and claimant is unique, no precise value can be attributed to this loss. The amount of general damages will be assessed by your lawyer and either agreed with the compensator or decided by a judge who will take into account all the circumstances of the case. Parameters for these valuations are contained in the Judicial College Guidelines, which is a publication issued to Judges and Lawyers as well as case reports of previous awards made by Courts.

Special Damages

Special Damages are the financial losses you suffer as a result of an accident. These include both past and future losses. By contrast to general damages, these are fixed in amount and have a precise monetary value. Interest is usually added to past losses at the current Special Account Rate which is 0.5% pa.

Special damages may include, but are not limited to:

Loss of Earnings:

You are entitled to claim this if you have had to take time off work due to your injury and as a result lost out on earnings. You may receive full sick pay from your employer and not have a loss of earnings but, depending on your contract of employment, you may be required to repay your sick pay to your employer in which case that amount is added to your claim and repaid to the employer (usually a Council, NHS Trust or other large employer which includes such clauses in their contracts) at the conclusion of the case.

It is possible to make a claim for loss of overtime or bonuses, if these were part of your remuneration prior to the accident as well as your net loss of earning
Injured claimants may also claim for loss of pension, if appropriate and these awards are often very large if injuries cause a person to take a reduced pension earlier than they would have done but for the injury.

If you are self-employed you can claim for loss of earnings, loss of profits and/or loss of business. You will need to provide documentary proof in the form of accounts and tax returns to show the taxable income you would have received but for the accident.

Loss of earnings can also include future earnings losses in cases where your injury is permanent or you have symptoms that will resolve at some time in the future. For example, if you are unable to carry out the same job as prior to the accident and you earn less than you did before (or even if you lose your job if your injuries prevent you from working), your claim will include a calculated sum to represent your future loss of earnings between your previous earnings and the current sum. This is calculated on the basis of medical evidence and with evidence of prior and current earnings. Actuarial figures known as the Ogden Tables are usually used by lawyers to calculate future loss claims.

Medical Expenses

Most of the hospital treatment required following an accident will be provided for free by the NHS. However, you do not have to use the NHS to treat accident related injuries. The law says that you can recover the cost of private treatment from the compensator even though this same treatment would be free on the NHS. Common treatments such as physiotherapy, dental appointments, cognitive behavioural therapy, chiropractic may therefore be sought as a private patient and these costs can be included with the claim for special damages.

The cost of prescriptions, over the counter medications or medical equipment can also be claimed under this heading. You should always keep receipts for expenses such as these.

If future treatment is needed for permanent conditions, then that cost will be included in your claim.

Travelling Expenses

You may need to attend medical appointments either at your GP surgery or at a physiotherapist or a hospital which causes you to incur financial outlay in terms of taxi/public transport fares, mileage (if you are using your own transport), parking expenses and such like. Again you should keep any receipts.

Care and Assistance

Very often after an accident, care is required for a period of time until you are able to look after yourself again. Very often this care is provided by friends and/or family.

However if friends and family are not able to provide this care then you are entitled to pay someone to do this for you. An award can be made to the claimant for damages for the cost of care and assistance provided, be it by professionals or by friends and family who received no financial payment.

In serious injury cases such as paralysis and head injuries, future care and medical costs are very high as they may include the costs of carers, support workers, case managers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and others who may have to attend the injured person for up to 24 hours a day.

Other items

Also included in the category of special damages are items such as cancellation charges, ruined holidays, unused gym membership, rehabilitation costs, vehicle damage, costs of modifying a property, eg house or car, the cost of replacing damaged property, ruined holidays, aids and equipment and other items.

This list is not exhaustive. There are many losses suffered as a result of an accident that you would be able to claim for provided they have been, or will be, incurred as a result of your injury.

Special damages claims can be difficult to calculate and it is therefore important that you speak to a lawyer to ensure that a full and accurate assessment can be made as to the extent of your financial losses. Our experience shows that those who try to settle their claims themselves usually receive far less than they would have done without the assistance of an experienced Personal Injury Solicitor.

If you have been involved in an accident and would like to discuss Special Damages or indeed any aspect of a claim for compensation please call one of our experts on 0114 218 4000 or email info@tayloremmet.co.uk

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