General Damages for Personal Injuries

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How are general damages for personal injuries calculated?

The purpose of general damages for personal injuries is to compensate the victim of an accident for the pain and suffering they have had to endure. General damages also covers ‘loss of amenity’; a temporary or permanent loss of function or ability to perform day to day tasks, sports or other pastimes which can no longer be enjoyed. Loss of opportunity may also be feature in claims for general damages, such as when job prospects are affected by an injury.

How much general damages for a personal injury you may be entitled to is first calculated against the “Judicial College Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages”, which list a series of injuries and allocates them a financial value depending on their severity and expected permanency.

Thereafter, due to the nature of the compensation which general damages covers, the calculation of compensation amounts then becomes complicated. Many factors need to be considered when assigning a value to claims for general damages. These include the age of the victim, gender and even the general state of health at the time injuries were sustained. When permanent injuries are suffered, a claimant´s life expectancy must be considered – as compensation must reflect the length of time that an injury will affect an individual.

General damages for personal injuries are awarded not only for physical injuries, but also psychological issues which are suffered as a result of either an accident itself or the injury sustained. Anxiety, PTSD, and even phobias which develop following an accident can potentially be compensated for under general damages.

If an injury results in costs being incurred, these too can feature in a claim for compensation. Expenses associated with an accident or injury are dealt with separately, as special damages. Special damages for personal injuries are more easily quantifiable and are therefore easier to calculate. Provided that a past cost or future expense can be established as being necessary as a direct consequence of the accident or injury, it can potentially be included in a claim for special damages for personal injuries. The purpose of special damages is to ensure that were it not for the accident, the claimant would be in no worse position financially than if the accident had not occurred.

Due to the complicated nature of calculating general damages, and the fact that elaborating costs and expenses in a claim for special damages has serious consequences for the claimant, it is best to allow a personal injury solicitor to assign a compensation value to a claim. Only after a thorough assessment of personal injuries has been made by a solicitor – including checking medical records and arranging further medical tests to establish the extent of injuries – is it possible for the maximum entitlement to general damages for personal injuries to be calculated.