Personal injury “quantum”, to use the legal term, is normally assessed by putting together the following two constituent aspects:
- “General Damages”
(or compensation for your pain, suffering and loss of amenity), and
- “Special Damages”
(or compensation for your loss of earnings and other financial losses).
The assessment of general damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity is based broadly on the decisions in previous similar accident claims made by trial judges.
Such precedents are available in reference works such as, among others:
- The Judicial Studies Board Guidelines
- Kemp & Kemp
- Current Law.
In each case a comparative judgment needs to be made when considering the likely quantum of general damages.
However, there are a number of factors which will usually be taken into account when assessing this aspect of your claim.
These include, amongst others:
- The nature and severity of your personal injury and consequent symptoms
- Your age
- Your occupation
- The extent to which your injury interrupts your job (in some cases requiring finding alternative work or retiring from work early)
- Your leisure activities
- Your domestic responsibilities and the extent to which your injury interferes with these.
Loss of congenial employment
In some accident claim cases, compensation will be awarded for “loss of congenial employment”.
If the person who has suffered personal injury can demonstrate that they derived particular enjoyment from their job, which they were prevented from continuing by virtue of of their accident, then additional damages may be awarded.
Handicap on the open labour market
Sometimes compensation can be awarded for “handicap on the open labour market”.
This situation will apply where the accident victim is able to remain at work despite their personal injury, but their employment is less secure than before.
In order for your accident claim successfully to include this head of damages, we have to show that if the person were to be dismissed from their job, then they would have difficulty in getting similar work in the future.
If your accident has caused you to spend time off work, then the likelihood is that there will be a claim for your loss of earnings. This is normally calculated by a taking the average of your wages over a 13 week period prior to your accident.
If your injury is serious enough to make you leave your job, then a claim can be made for your future loss of earnings. This claim comprises the earnings that you would have achieved, but for your accident.
In some cases, your injury may have caused a disability that prevents you from performing various tasks about the house, for example decorating, gardening, housework or car maintenance.
If you have had to get family or friends to carry out these tasks for you, then a claim can be made in respect of their time incurred.
The basis for this part of your accident claim is that if such individuals were not available, that such assistance would need to be provided by the state.
A claim can also be made for your miscellaneous losses and expenses incurred. If you have needed to make visits to your hospital or GP for treatment, then your travel expenses can be included in your compensation claim.
In some cases your clothing may have been damaged in the accident and therefore the replacement costs are also be included in your accident claim as well.
If you have been receiving money from the State as a result of your absence from work, then at the end of the case some of this will have to be refunded to the Compensation Recovery Unit.
Briefly, the purpose of this is to prevent ‘double recovery’. If you have received compensation for your loss of earnings, as well as unemployment benefits, then you would otherwise be compensated twice over in respect of the same losses.