We are often asked “how much is my claim worth?” Or “how much compensation am I likely to receive?” The first point to note is that no solicitor can say with any certainty how much you are likely to receive at the start because, at the outset, you do not have medical evidence.
Medical evidence will give a Solicitor an insight into your injuries and the effect of those injuries on your life. A medical report should also give a prognosis such as that you have sustained “a 12 month whiplash type injury to your neck and back.”
The medical report may note that you also sustained moderate psychological effects of travel anxiety as a driver and as a passenger. With more complex injuries or symptoms, more than one medical report may be necessary; for example you may need to be examined by a General Practitioner (GP) Expert and a Psychologist.
At the outset of the claim any value given to you is an estimate which cannot be relied upon. If you understand that the amount of compensation you receive is based on your injuries and the length of your injuries and the effect of the injuries on your life, then you have a good idea how General Damages are determined.
Of course you may also have a claim for Special Damages which covers any loss of earnings, medical expenses, care and assistance etc as a result of the accident or injury. If you were injured in an accident and unable to go to work, you may be able to recover that loss of earnings through a Special Damages claim. This would depend on whether an expert was of the opinion that your time off work was reasonable etc.
In terms of General Damages there are guidelines in place to help Solicitors and Barristers value claims. Of course we also use past cases with similar injuries (case law). An uplift is also taken into account (i.e. if a claim settled for £2,000 in 1998 then today the equivalent value would be greater). Inflation is taken into account. The 11th Edition of the Judicial College’s “Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases” has recently been published.
Most minor whiplash claims are likely to settle for between £2,000 and £3,000 – as a rough estimate. Every case is different. If there are certain risks in proceeding with litigation then this could affect the value of a claim. If your case proceeded to Court then there is always a certain amount of risk involved, there are no guarantees with litigation.
However by using past cases and guidelines we can advise whether an offer of settlement is on the low side, whether it is reasonable etc. It is always your choice and you can instruct us to accept an offer notwithstanding our advice (for example we may advise that an offer is low but you may want to accept it anyway – it is your claim and your choice). It is our job to advise you and to take your instructions. The brackets for whiplash claims are quite wide and your claim could be worth substantially more than £2,000 to £3,000. It all depends on the nature and severity of your injuries.
Despite the bad press, if you have ever suffered from whiplash then you know how painful and uncomfortable it can be. Despite the stigma surrounding whiplash claims, it is a compensatable injury and it is your right to make a claim if you sustained injury and it was not your fault.