Evaluating How Much Your Claim is Worth
Every personal injury case is unique and relies on its individual elements to determine how much is a claim worth. It is worth noting that although different cases may demonstrate similar attributes, such as the injuries sustained, each case should always have its personal injury claim value calculated on merits specific to it.
How to Calculate a Personal Injury Claim Value
In Ireland, four main factors determine how much a personal injury claim is worth. Not all claims will require all four elements and some claims may need to apply additional factors. Establishing how much an accident claim is worth may face delays as it could be some time before the contribution of each element is known.
Below is a brief summary of the four elements.
General Damages for Pain and Suffering
The Book of Quantum is a publication which lists a series of financial values for injuries. Each specific injury is accompanied with a range of financial values according to a number of factors including the severity of the injury, how long it could take to recover from your injury and its possible permanency.
Adjustments are then made to allow for individual issues; for example, your age, your state of health before the accident in which you sustained the injury and sometimes your sex in order to fully evaluate how much your personal injury claim is worth.
Consider this scenario; if an older man and a younger woman were both involved in accidents which resulted in similar eye injuries which left a visible scar, the young woman’s settlement would be higher because of the probable longer length of time she would have to live with the scar. A premium for her gender would also be applicable as the law accepts the higher importance women place on their appearances than men.
General Damages for Emotional Trauma
Every accident results in some degree of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, according to trauma experts. If your emotional experience can be quantified, you may be able to include the element of emotional trauma in your personal injury claim for compensation and in some cases you could qualify for compensation for a psychological injury alone – without the presence of a physical injury.
Anxiety and depression are both acknowledged as emotional traumas and it is possible that general damages could be awarded if you suffer with either of these afflictions during your recovery. Similarly, if you experience a lack of confidence in the aftermath of the accident due to its particular circumstances- for example, you fall from a height and as a consequence develop acrophobia – you may also have this situation classified as psychological trauma.
It may be necessary to undergo a psychiatric evaluation in order to confirm that you are indeed eligible for general damages for an emotional trauma. This type of injury generally takes the longest time to reveal itself and so your full entitlement to compensation for a personal injury claim may take some time to be settled.
General Damages for Loss of Amenity
To determine how much your personal injury claim is worth, the consequences of your injuries must also be acknowledged in order to properly assess a personal injury claim value. You will be able to add your ‘loss of amenity’ to calculations in order to fully establish the value of your claim if you are incapable of completing day to day tasks due to immobility or an incapacity derived from your accident.
An inability to enjoy social or leisure activities that you had enjoyed regularly before your accident can also contribute to the element of ‘loss of amenity’. A solicitor would recommend that you keep a diary and take note of the occasions that your injury prevents you from taking part in such activities.
As there is no guide or “Book of Quantum” to judge how much an accident claim is worth as regards loss of amenity, the element of general damages for your particular loss of amenity will be determined by referencing previous settlements under similar circumstances, taking your personal lifestyle into consideration.
Special Damages for Financial Costs
The financial costs you have incurred, or that you may incur at a later time, can influence how much your personal injury claim is worth considerably. Special damages for financial costs can enable you to be compensated for any expenses or loss of income which have derived from the negligence of the person(s) responsible for your injury so that your financial situation would be no worse than what it would be had your accident never occurred.
The cost of medications, using alternative forms of transport if you can no longer drive, restructuring your home if you are wheel-chair bound as a result of your accident, replacing a lifetime of potential earnings if a child has suffered a severe injury from an accident which will prevent them from ever earning a living are some examples of special damages.
If you can produce receipts, invoices and other financial documents deemed satisfactory under law to justify an expense, be in in the past, present or future, you will be entitled to include that cost as part of your personal injury claim for compensation in your special damages for financial expenses.
How Other Factors Can Affect How Much an Accident Claim is Worth
Factors in each individual case determines how much an accident claim is worth and if you are proven to have contributed to the cause of your accident or the extent of your injuries, this may have a substantial effect on how much your personal injury claim is worth. In such a situation, your compensation settlement could be lowered in reflection of your own carelessness. Failure to wear a seat belt is one of the best known examples of what is known as contributory negligence, and most plaintiffs will understand that if an injury was sustained in a car accident when they were not wearing their seat belt, they must accept some responsibility for their injuries. However, few plaintiffs realise that not seeking professional medical attention at the soonest possible opportunity may also be considered as contributory negligence in the calculations as to how much an accident claim is worth.
If you have failed to effectively communicate to your doctor the symptoms you are feeling – especially when claiming compensation for the misdiagnosis of an illness – or if you accept an unsolicited offer of compensation from the negligent party’s insurers without consulting with an experienced legal professional first, your personal injury claim could be affected by other forms of contributory negligence.
Offers of compensation from insurance companies may likely be inadequate to cover medical expenses or support your family and are usually made when the plaintiff is at their most vulnerable. It is not difficult to understand the temptation to accept an offer of compensation when you do not know how much an accident claim is worth, however, they are offered in best interests of the insurance company, not yours, and after acceptance you cannot go back to them and request more.
Even if no conclusive figure can be calculated to tell you the amount of compensation you could receive, you would be well advised to have your claim assessed by an experienced personal injury solicitor at the earliest opportunity possible.
- How much your personal injury claim is worth is calculated by various factors.
- As your claim is being assessed, special damages for out of pocket expenses can be included.
- If you, the plaintiff, have behaved negligently, your personal injury claim value may be affected.
- Accepting an insufficient offer of settlement without seeking an expert legal opinion first would be seen as a negligent action.
Each individual claim is unique and so it is advisable to ask a legal professional “How much is my claim worth?”. If you think that you may have a potential accident claim, your best interests will be met if you discuss all of the points raised in this article with a solicitor as soon as you are in a position to do so.