Special damages: The ‘damages’ behind the injury
Being involved in an accident is extremely stressful, particularly if it results in serious injury. Anger and stress can be amplified if the injury had been caused by an accident that wasn’t your fault or by medical negligence. The main goal will be your recovery and a desire to return to life as it was before the accident.
Unfortunately for many, recovery does not usually happen instantly. Serious injuries are likely to take significant time to recover from. What does happen instantly is financial loss. If you are unable to work, will you be paid your salary? If you need medical treatment, who will pay for this? If you are struggling with daily activities, who is there to provide help? Making a claim for compensation could help you to recover financial losses caused by the accident that wasn’t your fault.
Compensation in a personal injury claim is awarded for two categories:
– General damages: money for your injuries, pain and suffering and additional treatment required as a result of the accident or negligence; and
– Special damages: money for the financial losses which have happened, or will happen, because of the accident or negligence
General damages are calculated by comparing them against other cases where similar injuries have occurred. Special damages are more factual, and if you can prove the loss was linked to the negligence, you will largely recover the loss.
The ultimate aim is to put you back in the position you were in had the accident not happened. For this reason it is very important to fully consider and investigate the true extent of your financial losses to ensure full compensation is recovered.
What are Special Damages?
The term ‘special damages’ is vague. It acts as an umbrella term for various different types of financial loss. The aim is to allow the recovery of money that has been lost – be it salary, travel or otherwise – suffered as a result of the accident.
Except for some more common types of loss mentioned above, it can be unclear to many what other types of financial losses can or cannot be recovered as part of a claim. This can even be the case even when they are incurred every day. So, what is recoverable?
Consider the care and assistance provided by family and friends. Even though help provided to a loved one is likely to be free, a financial sum can be recovered for the amount of care provided. As mentioned before, recovery does not happen instantly. Daily life immediately afterward an accident will be affected. Previously considered ‘simple’ tasks such as food shopping and cleaning may no longer be simple. What would life then be like if family and friends were not there to help out? Without them, reliance would fall to paid carers and this would have to be paid for by the injured person.
When family and friends provide free care, it is unlikely to come to mind that a ‘loss’ is being incurred. The law recognises that when care is provided, someone is giving up their own time to help another. Care would involve, for example, cooking or driving the injured person to medical appointments. In a personal injury or medical negligence claim, this free or “gratuitous” time given by friends or family can be claimed for. An hourly rate will be applied to the care given and multiplied by the length of time the care was provided for.
Sadly, some accidents cause injuries severe enough to stop someone returning to their job. There is a higher risk of this in careers which are more manual in their nature. If this happens, it will be difficult to process. After working or training for a profession, having it taken away is devastating. As part of a compensation claim, you can include a claim for loss of earnings if you have lost out on some of your salary. A financial sum may also be awarded as an acknowledgement of losing a career that is so important to you.
What can you do to make sure your losses are included in a personal injury claim?
Instructing a solicitor after an accident is unlikely to happen overnight. It may be some time before an approach is even made. It could even be months or years after the original accident date. This means information on financial losses, are unable to be provided for earlier, particularly when receipts and evidence gathering which may be needed can be lost, not considered or forgotten about.
Here are a few tips to help you preserve as much evidence to provide to your solicitor as possible, when bringing a claim.
- Care: Keep a diary which lists who has helped you, what they have done and how long they have helped you for. This can help to paint a picture of daily life following the accident and shows what you are no longer able to do. Serious injuries can result in care being needed for a lengthy period of time and so the more information held, the better. A diary will help preserve this important information rather than relying solely on memory, which can fade over time.
- Receipts: They can be forgotten about, disregarded, or easily lost – but they are essential. One example is for any medication purchased to treat the injuries sustained. Collect and keep the receipts in a safe place as soon as possible if they relate to the accident. Without them, it can be difficult to recover the full amount when your claim settles.
- Travel: Where a receipt is not available, keeping a record of travel made to hospitals, treatment centres or other relevant locations is important. As far as possible, keeping a note of the dates of travel, location, distance and the reason for travel can really help strengthen your claim.
It can be difficult to know sometimes whether an expense is something that should be included in the claim or not. If you’re not sure, include as much information as possible and ask your solicitor. They will be the best person to advise you whether it can be recovered or not.
Considering the different types of ‘special damage’ as a whole can form a significant part of your personal injury claim. Whilst there is an award for the injury itself, the financial losses soon mount up. If these losses mount up and finances become tight, this can become a major concern. In claims for personal injury and medical negligence, special damages play a major role in helping you to be compensated for your losses so it is important that they are fully investigated and included in your claim.
BBK have a proven record and significant experience in dealing with various types of compensation claims. We are aware of the complex nature and difficulties that surround calculating financial losses. Our team is here to help you, or those you know, who have been involved in a serious accident, obtain the support they need to get their life back on track. We appreciate it can be a difficult decision to bring a claim and the stress that may come with it.
Our teams comprise of solicitors who are specialists in their field who place clients and their recovery at the front of every case. We are here to support and advise you throughout your claim and to assist in recovering your special damages to ensure you receive full compensation for your losses.
Michael Doyle is a paralegal in the Medical Negligence team at Bolt Burdon Kemp. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury as a result of someone else’s negligence, contact Michael in confidence on 020 3973 5021 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, complete this form and one of the solicitors in the Medical Negligence team will contact you. Find out more about the Medical Negligence team.