After an accident - What can I claim for?
- AuthorLaura Simpson
Guidelines to help you understand what you may be able to claim for after an accident.
• Pain, suffering and loss of amenity, known as general damages : -
Your Solicitor will obtain medical reports from suitably qualified, independent medical experts dealing with the injuries which you have sustained as a result of your accident. These may commonly be from a GP or A&E Consultant; a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon; a Consultant Neurologist; a Consultant Plastic Surgeon; or a Consultant Psychologist or Psychiatrist.
These reports will enable your Solicitor to advise you as to the value of your injuries, usually with reference to the Judicial College Guidelines which are the guidelines provided to Judges to assist them in valuing claimants' claims. If your injury is particularly severe though, or if there is substantial interference with particular pastimes or hobbies which are important to you, then higher awards may, exceptionally, be made.
You may also be able to claim for additional awards if you are no longer able to undertake work which you were particularly fond of; loss of property damaged in the accident and possibly loss of use, usually a motor vehicle; loss of leisure time if, for example, you had to work longer hours to maintain your pre-accident income; or if you have suffered from a handicap on the labour market and there is a real risk that you may find yourself on the open labour market and at a disadvantage.
It is helpful to keep a diary of the effects of the accident upon you.
You can also claim damages for the financial losses which you have incurred as a result of your accident. These are called Special Damages :-
• Travelling expenses
You can recover reasonable travelling expenses, for example, in attending medical appointments with your GP or the hospital.
Courts will sometimes award a modest sum in respect of any minor personal costs arising as a result of the accident and in bringing the action (for example, postage and telephone calls).
• Past and future loss of earnings
A claim for loss of earnings will usually consist simply of the earnings lost as a result of being away from work. You may be able to show that your promotion prospects have been damaged or that your bonuses were affected if your productivity levels dropped.
Sometimes, it will be a term of your employment that you have to recover, on behalf of your employer, sick pay paid to you if you took time off work following an accident in the event that you make a claim from a third party. It is important for us to check your contract of employment.
You may also be able to claim for future loss of earnings if your injury means that you can no longer work or your career has been affected. This can include where you can no longer earn the same level of wages as before.
• Care and assistance
Claimants may recover losses in respect of gratuitous care provided by friends and family necessitated by an accident at an hourly rate. The claim will be made by you on behalf of your carer(s).
As well as nursing care, this may include domestic chores—cooking, cleaning, washing, shopping; child-minding; gardening; driving; and DIY or home maintenance.
• Damaged or destroyed property
The most common item claimed for is a written-off or damaged vehicle following a road traffic accident.
If a vehicle is put out of action by an accident (either because it is written-off or requires repair) the reasonable cost of hiring a replacement vehicle for the necessary period is recoverable. If the claimant does not have the funds to pay for this they may hire via credit hire agreement, and then recover that cost. This way however you may sometimes not be able to recover the whole cost.
Other items claimed include destroyed clothing, jewellery, and glasses. The Defendant's insurers do not have to reimburse you for the original or replacement cost of an item (apart from crash helmets), and they are entitled to take into account the age and condition of an item at the time of your accident.
• Medical investigations, medication and treatment costs
This falls within the costs of mitigation and includes all expenditure associated with reasonable efforts to facilitate recovery or reduce pain and suffering. Investigations may include, for example, MRI scans; X-Rays; CT scans; nerve conduction studies. Medication and treatment may include, for example, pain killers, physiotherapy, private surgery, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT); Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR), counselling, TENS machines.
You do not have to have your treatment on the NHS and you can choose to be treated privately.
It is important to have supporting medical evidence, particularly when unusual or alternative therapies such as acupuncture have been used.
If you have been looked after by a paid carer, subject to evidence that this was necessary, and provided the fee was reasonable, the cost can be recovered in the same way as any other medical expense.
• Accommodation, aids and equipment
At the lower end of the scale, aids and equipment can include shoe horns, walking sticks, or specially adapted shoes, and at the higher end of the scale, these can include a computer system that provides assistance with speech or controls the home environment. There may be associated costs, such as training to use an item of equipment or maintenance and replacement costs.
Alterations to your home could include a level access shower, a hoist and associated strengthening of the structure, wheelchair ramps or lifts, a stairlift, additional storage space to accommodate wheelchairs or other aids, or widening of internal doors or other alteration of the internal layout.
This list is not exhaustive and if you are not sure if you can claim for something, you should ask your Solicitor.
The most important thing to remember is that you must have evidence of your losses, whether this is in the form of wage slips and receipts or evidence from medical experts (which your Solicitor will obtain) or witness statements from friends and family. Keep a record of all expenses (travel, telephone, prescriptions, etc) you incur as a result of the accident along with any receipts.
Please note that if you are in receipt of state benefits as a result of your accident, injury or disease, The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) operates a system for recovering these benefits from the compensator (either the defendant or, in most cases, the defendant's insurer) via the Compensation Recovery Unit (CRU). The compensator is in turn entitled to recoup certain benefits against three types of loss: loss of earnings; cost of care; and loss of mobility. Your claim for general damages is protected. The aim is to ensure that you are not compensated twice.
Lincoln 01522 512123
Newark 01636 673743
Author: Laura Simpson - Solicitor 1st February 2019