How much personal injury compensation can I claim?
If you have been injured and somebody else is fully or partly to blame, you may be entitled to claim personal injury compensation. Personal injury claims cover physical injuries, illness and psychological disorders. As far as possible, compensation can help you to rebuild your life to the quality it was before the accident. Sustaining an injury as a result of another person’s negligence is hard to bear and compensation is a way of correcting that wrongdoing and suffering.
How is personal injury compensation calculated?
The amount of compensation you can claim depends on your personal circumstances and your specific injury. You might be able to claim:
- Losses and expenses: This can include lost wages, medical treatment costs or damage to your property.
- Future losses and expenses: If you have a long-term injury, your claim could cover future reduced wages, taking into account inflation over time.
- Injury compensation: This takes into account the pain, suffering and disruption to your life. Past court decisions and court guidelines are used to calculate what you are entitled to.
- General damages: This covers those things that are difficult to put a monetary value on, such as missing a family wedding or having to take a less enjoyable job due to your injuries. It also covers potential future problems you may encounter as a result of your injury.
Every claim is individual, but these are the range of compensation amounts that can be awarded in 2019, as informed by the ‘Judicial College Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases’:
Accident at work: £5,5000 to £50,000 plus
Assault: £1,000 to £500,000
Holiday accidents: £690 (food poisoning) to £56,000 (fractured bone)
Slip, trip and fall: £1,000 (broken ankle) to £20,250
Whiplash: £2,500 upwards
What’s involved in the personal injury claims process?
You have a maximum of 3 years to make a physical or psychological personal injury claim. The exception is injured children who usually have until their 21st birthday. Always take legal advice as quickly as possible so that there is enough time to gather evidence to support your claim.
Here’s an outline of the legal process:
- Establish that your injury is someone else’s fault or at least that they are partly to blame. Your personal injury lawyer may seek independent evidence to prove this.
- You work with your lawyer to gather and collate documents and photographs that prove your injury and financial losses are a result of the accident. Your lawyer will help you to prove that the compensation you are seeking is reasonable and not excessive.
- Details of your claim are sent to the insurers of the party who is to blame for your injury.
- Your lawyer arranges medical examinations. Health specialists write a medical report to support your claim.
- Your lawyer presents your case to the insurers in order to negotiate the best out-of-court settlement they can. If your opponent’s insurers do not offer fair compensation, your lawyer will request a court assessment. A judge will then decide who was to blame and what level of compensation must be awarded.
- You receive compensation.
Critical changes to compensation law – effective April 2020
In April 2020, the Ministry of Justice plans to introduce changes to compensation law that will have a significant impact on personal injury claims.
The reforms will:
- Increase the small claims limit for all road traffic accidents from £1,000 to £5,000, excluding those involving cyclists, horse riders, pedestrians and motorcyclists.
- For all other personal injury claims, the limit will be increased from £1,000 to £2,000.
- Introduce a tariff system for whiplash injuries which occur as a result of road traffic accidents. That means compensation payouts for these injuries will be reduced. The aim is to put a stop to fraudulent whiplash claims.
The changes will mean that fewer personal injury sufferers are likely to receive compensation. Here’s why:
- Most personal injury claims are worth £5,000 or less – whiplash claims typically fall under this threshold. Under the new reforms these cases will be processed by the small claims court. The small claims court is normally used by people who are not represented by lawyers. However, for the most fair and successful personal injury claim outcome, it is important to engage the services of a specialist lawyer.
- The small claims court doesn’t allow the injured person to recover their legal costs from those they sue. This makes it even more unlikely that they will seek legal representation.
- Many people have no idea how much money to claim for whiplash injuries, according to research commissioned by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APL), so they wouldn’t
 ‘Judicial College Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases’ (2019, 14th ed, Oxford University Press).
 The Law Society, Personal Injury, https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/policy-campaigns/articles/personal-injury/