What is Personal Injury?
Written by Bilal Farooq
Director of Greystone Solicitors
Personal Injury involves civil cases whereby the affected party seeks compensation for the injuries he or she sustained in order to restore said person to the position he or she would have been in prior to the incident. In order to recover compensation, there must be identifiable damage caused by an individual who is at fault.
Types of Personal Injury
There are a myriad of ways by which an individual may suffer a personal injury, and therefore may need the help of a solicitor to compensate their losses:
- Accidents in public places
- Road traffic accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Accidents at work
- Bus and coach accidents
- Motorcyclist accidents
- Abuse and criminal injury
- Holiday accidents and illness
- Faulty goods or services
- Accidents involving animals
- Accidents in the home
- Accidents at work
Types of Damages
Within personal injury cases, there are two types of damages – general damages or special damages. Damages refers to the amount of compensation awarded to the party whom suffered losses as a result of another individual’s behaviour.
With general damages, the injured party is entitled to be compensated for pain, suffering and loss of amenity, or ‘PSLA’. This can include and is not exclusive to:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Psychological suffering
- Physical impairment
- Lower quality of life
- Loss of companionship
- Difficulty finding a job
General damages can be compensated for as long as there is a direct link between the claimant’s injury and the defendant’s behaviour.
With regards to general damages, it can be difficult to quantify how much compensation should be awarded to the injured person. This can be understood in terms of looking ahead. Often, injuries are ongoing, for example, an injured party may need extended medical treatment such as physiotherapy or counselling. This is where the solicitor and medico-legal expert communicate to best restore the injured party to their position before the incident occurred.
Further, any pre-existing medical conditions will need to be taken into account and could influence the outcome of the claim.
Whilst general damages refer to the physical harm suffered by an injured person, special damages focus on financial losses or out-of-pocket expenses. These can include:
- Loss of earnings
- Vehicle repairs or replacement costs
- Travelling expenses
- Missed trips or holidays
- Medical and prescription costs
- Care and assistance
Special damages can be easily determined by quantifying all the claimant’s financial losses. This being said, evidence does need to be provided by way of receipts, bank statements or other methods of valuation.
Is it possible to claim both general and special damages?
An injured person can claim compensation for both general and special damages. There are many scenarios by which a person may find themselves experiencing both pain and suffering (general damages) and financial losses (special damages). For example, a driver – Mr A – has been in a car accident due to another driver – Mr B – using his mobile phone and therefore not paying attention to the road. As a result, Mr A sustained physical injuries causing him to take time off work as well his car needing to be repaired. As the negligent party, Mr B was required to compensate Mr A for both his general and special damages.