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Accessible legal tips, know-how and news for anyone with a complaint or legal issue from Stephen Gold, author of The Return of Breaking Law, the book

Wednesday 1 November 2017

Personal Injury Compensation Up

Injured in an accident and making a claim? What's the claim worth in respect of your pain and suffering and what is called loss of amenities? You will get a good idea from a publication which judges and lawyers use to provide guideline figures. It's called Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases (catchy title, eh?) and is published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Judicial College. It's available to the public. A new edition has just been published with higher figures to reflect the fact that there has been a retail prices index increase of 4.8% in the two years since publication of the previous edition. Every case can be different and so no judge will be a slave to the guidelines: they will depart from them if the evidence justifies it but you will get a really good idea of the ball park figure you should be aiming for from this publication.

The government is threatening legislation to bring down the awards which courts can make in cases involving whiplash and minor psychological injures as from 1 October 2018. But there's no legislation yet and, at least for the time being, the much higher figures in the Guidelines will apply.

So, for example, for a minor neck or minor back injury, where you fully recover within three months, you are likely to be awarded between £2,050  and £2,150. For other general minor injuries with a three month recovery period, the range of damages is likely to between £1,200 and £2,150. What the guidelines do emphasise in these cases is that too casual an approach to the length of time before full recovery  has taken place should be avoided and that special regard should be had to the fact that recovery may not occur at an even pace. In some cases, the pain and suffering could be very intense for a few weeks and then only moderate, whereas in others it could be moderate for the whole period.

At long last, judges have been advised that in cases involving scarring, there should be no difference in their approach when dealing with a male rather than female. Previously, females have collected higher damages than males.

On top of the compensation I have been talking about you may be entitled to recover specific losses such as loss of earnings, damage to property, the cost of physiopherapy treatment and so on. 

It would be advisable for you to take in a solicitor to help you with a claim though you will not be able to obtain legal aid.  Most solicitors will operate on a 'no win, no fee' basis. In that situation, don't sign up for a high success fee where the claim is straightforward and there is to be no dispute about you being entitled to something. There's much more on this in my book Breaking Law (which I have previously mentioned one or twice).

And, remember, the new guidelines will apply to your claim whenever the accident occurred. If your compensation is being negotiated or decided by the court now then the new figures and not the old figures will apply.