Is It Worth Bringing a Claim?
One of the most common questions raised when you consider bringing a claim for compensation is "will it be worth it?" It is commonly known that bringing a claim is a long, laborious and stressful process. It is not something that should be taken on lightly. Even if your legal team do the majority of the heavy lifting for you, you will still need to be involved and you will need to be able to commit to the case. Therefore, it is not uncommon for many people to want to know if the hard work and the potential stress involved will be worth it.
To answer this question firstly your legal professional will need to know what your idea of worth is. For some a claim will be worth it if you can have your day in Court, stand up in front of a judge and say, "these people did me wrong, they were negligent," to have a judge agree with you and confirm that you have won your case is enough for some. But for others the financial outcome of the case is what makes it worth it, will the claim, if won, provide enough compensation to make the work involved worthwhile.
The majority of clients tend to fall in the middle of these two, the fact that they feel they have been treated negligently and want to prevent that treatment from happening to someone else is a large part of their motivation, however the financial aspect is also present and needs to be sufficient enough to make the work involved worthwhile.
Sadly, it is almost impossible for any legal professional to answer either of these questions. There is no guarantee that you will win your claim just because a firm has taken it on. Things happen in cases that make weak claims much stronger and strong claims much weaker and these events can happen at any point in the claim. Just because your legal profession says you have a 70% chance of winning at the beginning of your claim does not mean that on the day of the trial you will still have a 70% chance of winning, you might only have 50% or you might have 80% circumstances change regularly.
It is also almost impossible to give a valuation of a claim right at the beginning. This is because your legal professional will need to break down your compensation into what is known as General Damages and Special Damages. General Damages being the compensation for pain, suffering, loss of amenity and Special Damages being the monetary loss. The money you have had to spend because of your injury that you would not have had to pay otherwise. For example, pain killers you had to purchase, time spent by friends and family in helping you that they would not have done if you had not been injured.
So to provide a proper value your legal professional will need to know all of your financial losses incurred because of the negligence, as well as have a detailed medical report from an independent medical expert to value the pan and suffering part of your injury.
Once your claim has reached the point where you have provided your legal professional with all of the information as to your financial losses and you have been examined by an independent medical expert then a financial value can be placed on your claim/
To calculate your general damages your legal professional will review and analyses your medical report which details your injury, your treatment and your symptoms. The report may also hazard a guess at when your symptoms will resolve or plateau. Once your legal professional has that information they turn to a publication called the Judicial Studies Board Guidelines which list various injuries and give a bracket of value. For example Wrist Injuries, Bracket a) Injuries resulting in complete loss of function in the wrist. Deformity may increase the award depending on severity are worth between £35,000 - £72,500.00
Once your legal professional has a bracket, they will then look at previous case law. They will be looking for cases where someone suffered an injury similar to your and had a similar recovery period. The mechanics of the case does not matter. So if you suffered a broken wrist in a car accident that healed fully after six months, your solicitor wouldn't be looking for someone who suffered a broken wrist in a car crash. They will be looking for a case where someone suffered a broken wrist that healed fully after six months. Once a few cases have been found with similar injuries and recovery times inflation will be added and you will have a figure!
Unfortunately just because your legal professional says your claim is work £5,000.00 does not mean you will receive £5,000.00 at the end of the day. Negotiation will cause the figure to change, if you settle before trial you will usually be advised to accept a slightly lower figure as you are removing the risk of attending trial. If you win at trial it will be up to the Judge to award you compensation.
With regard to Special Damages, these are paid to cover all the costs you incurred as a result of your injury, they are essentially refunding/reimbursing you.
There are a lot of various expenses that can be reclaimed such as:
Travel costs for medical appointments and treatments such as Physiotherapy
Loss of earnings
Time spent by friends and family helping you do tasks that you would normally do yourself.
Medicines either prescribed or not
Tip: Keep your receipts! I cannot stress this enough. You will be asked to prove your loss, and you will struggle to do that without receipts.
In conclusion, it is up to you to decide what your claim is worth to you. Compensation is broken into two headings General and Special. General is the payment received for your injury and Special is the compensation received for any financial loss you have suffered. The two headings are then added together giving a figure to start negotiations.