How are whiplash injury compensation amounts calculated? Is there any benefit to using a solicitor when making claims for whiplash personal injury compensation?
Whiplash injury compensation amounts can vary significantly according to the extent of your injury and the impact it has on your quality of life and financial status. No two claims for whiplash personal injury compensation are identical and therefore, in order to calculate whiplash injury amounts accurately, it is advisable to speak with a solicitor and undergo an assessment of your claim.
A solicitor will look at three primary areas when compiling claims for whiplash personal injury compensation – the extent of your injury, the effect the injury has on you quality of life and the financial repercussions of your injury. This is a fairly similar process to how the Injuries Board calculates whiplash injury compensation amounts but, to highlight the potential differences in outcomes, we will look at each element of a claim separately:
General Damages for Pain and Suffering
Whiplash compensation for the physical pain and suffering you experience is determined according to the Book of Quantum. This publication lists a range of physical injuries and assigns them a financial value. For example, a soft tissue neck injury from which you recover quickly will be valued at up to €14,400, whereas an ongoing back problem could be valued as highly as €69,700 or – if the injury is likely to be permanent €85,900.
Whiplash injury compensation amounts within this element are established by the doctor´s report that you send to the Injuries Board when you submit your application for assessment. The likelihood is that the Injuries Board would request that you undergo an independent medical assessment of your injury to determine whether it is ongoing or healing. Similarly a solicitor would also recommend that you undergo an independent medical assessment, but by an expert orthopaedist rather than a GP.
General Damages for Loss Amenity
The term “loss of amenity” relates to any part of your non-financial day-to-day life which suffers because you are unable to participate in the usual pleasures of life. You may suffer a loss of amenity – for example – if your whiplash injury prevents you from participating in pastimes and activities, or if your quality of life deteriorates because of the limitations put on you by having to wear a support collar – for example if you are unable to go swimming with your children on a family holiday.
This is the particular element of claims for whiplash personal injury compensation in which the experience of a solicitor can be invaluable. The Injuries Board application for assessment gives no information about claiming compensation for a loss of amenity, and allows limited space for you to include details of the impact your whiplash injury has had on your quality of life. Your solicitor will be able to complete the application on your behalf to communicate how the negligence of another driver has caused a deterioration in your quality of life.
Special Damages for Financial Costs
The financial costs of a whiplash injury can be substantial if you are unable to work for an extended period of time or if you incur significant costs because of your injury. The recovery of your lost income or expenses you have incurred has to be justified with payslips and receipts, and in this respect there is little difference between the Injuries Board process and using a solicitor. However, your solicitor will be able to advise you of the full range of expenses you can include in your claim.
Regardless of whether you engage a solicitor to make claims for whiplash personal injury compensation or rely on the Injuries Board process, whiplash injury compensation amounts are reduced by the amount of any benefits you have received under the government´s “Recovery of Certain Benefits and Assistance Scheme” that came into effect in August 2014. If you have any questions about the reduction of whiplash injury compensation amounts, please discuss these with your solicitor.
Beware of Unsolicited Offers of Whiplash Injury Compensation Amounts
The complexity of calculating whiplash injury compensation amounts creates two problems. First, if you rely on the Injuries Board process to make claims for whiplash personal injury compensation, how do you know that their assessment is accurate? Secondly, you are more likely to be approached by the negligent party´s insurance company with an unsolicited offer of compensation. Fortunately both of these problems are easy to resolve with the assistance of a solicitor.
With regard to the potential Injuries Board issue, a solicitor can check their assessment to see if it is in line with information provided by you and your doctor about your injury and the consequences of your injury. If you are approached by an insurance company with an unsolicited offer of compensation, you should always refer it to a solicitor. The offer will usually be less than you are entitled to and, if short term finances are a concern to you, a solicitor can often arrange for an interim payment of compensation until a more appropriate settlement is negotiated.
There are many more circumstances which may further complicate the calculation of whiplash injury compensation amounts. For example if you have suffered a psychological injury as a result of a car crash, if you are making claims for whiplash personal injury compensation on behalf of a child, or if you were a passenger in an accident in which the negligent party was the driver of the car you were travelling in. Consequently, it is in your best interests to speak with a solicitor about whiplash injury compensation amounts at the earliest possible opportunity.