As a personal injury file handler, this is one of the questions that I am most frequently asked by my clients – how do I go about assessing how much an injured person should receive for their injuries? There is a process to this, and whilst it is not an exact science, the process helps to set a bracket for how much a case is worth.
When medical evidence is complete and it is known whether a) a client has made a full recovery b) will be left with a permanent injury, or c) if the prognosis is that they will recover within a specified period of time, then, with the client’s agreement, the process of valuation can begin.
The first port of call is to look at the Judicial College Guidelines which are a set of guidelines set by the Judicial Studies Board. This is a board incepted by members of the judiciary to set down a series of broad bracketed figures into which various types of injury, from physical to psychological, could “fit”. The guidelines are not meant to provide an instant valuation, but to help judges, solicitors, insurers, or indeed anyone involved in the process of valuing claims, to narrow the process down. The guidelines are updated regularly, most recently being November 2019.
So if, for example, you have suffered a fractured ankle, how is this particular injury valued? Your solicitor will first of all look to the Judicial College Guidelines, and will get a broad bracket for that type of injury, and will be mindful of impact on work, any permanent disability such as a vulnerability to arthritis in the future, and how the injury has affected home life and social activities. Alongside this they will consider whether any treatment was needed, such as surgery, or rehab in the form of physiotherapy.
They will then look at other cases, published in the legal press, and look at niche, specialist valuation sites to try to find comparative cases, checking for things such as similar recovery times, similar impact on work, treatment received, and if there are any long term effects. Once they have found similar cases, your solicitor will investigate and review how much those particular clients could get if they had settled today.
Your solicitor will check through the medical evidence and any statements or instructions that you have provided to ensure that every aspect of how the injury has affected you has been taken into account before advising you of their valuation. It may well be that your solicitor will set out a bracket of what is to be considered a reasonable recovery, and will advise that any offers made, or settlement figures arrived at within that bracket would be considered to be reasonable.
In addition to your injuries, your solicitor will take into account any out of pocket expenses, such as loss of earnings, care provided to you, travelling expenses, any private medical expenses, and miscellaneous expenses, which could be anything from loss of enjoyment of a holiday, to damaged clothing to painkillers.
What your solicitor should not be doing is grossly inflating the value of your injuries when making an offer to your opponents. As stated above, ALL members of the judiciary, solicitors and insurance company have access to the same research tools, such as the Judicial College Guidelines, and published cases, so they are all looking at the same information.
Indeed, it is not unusual for solicitors and insurance companies to “swap” the details of the cases that they are relying upon, to try to narrow the issues, and reach a reasonable compromise.
In other words, valuing a claim and moving to settlement is not a bartering system of making a ridiculously high offer, in the hope that your opponents will be fooled into settling at that figure. Any good solicitor will be taking the time to research the value of your injuries properly and will give you correct and accurate advice, using up to date information and the evidence obtained in your claim, in order to achieve a fair and reasonable settlement for the injuries you have received.
If you have suffered a personal injury and would like to speak with one of our specialist solicitors call us today on 01616 966 229. You can also use our personal injury compensation calculator to get an estimate of how much your claim may be worth.