Whenever I used to take on personal injury claims I would often be asked right at the beginning of the conversation “How much compensation will I get?” and I’d always explain that it’s not a random award, you’re not winning the lottery or a scratch card but you will be paid out for what it has actually cost you.
The money you get has to be justified and proven – the numbers aren’t just plucked out of the air to see what you’ll accept. The job of your legal team is to gather evidence that proves how much out of pocket you are now, how much of an impact it will have on your future life and earnings and what impact it had on you at the time of the accident.
I’ve dealt with many different types of compensation claims including: Neck and back whiplash, fractured bones, damaged teeth, facial scarring, hearing problems, brain damage, broken backs and vertebrae, loss of sight, hair damage (chemicals), Asbestos related injuries, pelvis injuries, amputations and also knee problems. This is just a small sample by the way, if I listed every injury type I think I’d need a bigger blog! As you can see the range of possible claims is massive and when you factor in severity and impact on any given individual you can start to see that answering the question of “how much will I get?” is impossible from the outset to answer.
Questions & Answers
When you instruct a personal injury lawyer or team their job is to ask you questions about what happened, this may seem like a questionnaire but it is in fact the start of the evidence for your claim.
Then they will talk with you about costs for things like medication, travel, loss of earnings and trips to the hospital etc. Then your doctors reports will be examined to work out the extent of your injury.
The amount of money per injury will fit into a range for each injury type and then the lawyer will work out, again with medical information provided or by sending you for a further assessment, how severe your injury is and where it fits into the scale of compensation amounts.
If your injury is already fully healed then the claim can be put forward to the insurers legal team for their assessment of your evidence. If you have ongoing symptoms then a doctor or medical professional will assess you so that your team can work out a length of time your symptoms will continue for.
Then using medical evidence they can work out how long you’re likely to continue needing treatment and also what effect the injury will have on you personally and professionally as well. For instance if you are a bus driver and you have a claim for torn ligaments the doctor may say you’ll be unable to drive for 6 months then your lawyer will claim for 6 months loss of work on top of the other claim amounts.
If you had a leg amputation however then the cost to you may be hugely different and so the compensation amount claimed for will be significantly higher. With life changing injuries like amputations there is also the psychological impact on your life to consider. I always used to use a different doctor for this side of the claim as it’s quite a tricky thing to assess correctly.
All of this evidence gathering may seem tedious at the time but a good personal injury claim will gather all of this information in advance of submitting a claim as once you’ve claimed and been paid out it’s often too late to go back and say ‘Actually, I forgot to tell you about this symptom….’
The number of factors to take into account when I was asked the question “How much will I get” meant that I’d usually say “Sorry, I can’t say just yet” because I didn’t want to leave myself open to complaints down the road when the amount claimed was less (no-one complains when it’s more though!) than I’d indicated.
I may make a ball park estimate but would be clear that it was not guaranteed. There are websites that offer a personal injury calculator depending on the injury type that give you an estimate too but those calculators can only take into account the injury itself without knowing anything about you personally and the impact it has on your life.
G Macs final thought
I used to, and most personal injury lawyers still do, offer a free consultation to start with so I’d recommend you speak with them first and then ask the question again when they know a bit more about your unique case, the impact on you and how it will affect you going forwards to get a more realistic answer to the question.