Personal injury general damages increased by 10 per cent

Damages for pain and suffering in personal injury claims are increased by 10% for awards made after April 2013

In July 2012, the Court of Appeal confirmed that the amount of general damages awarded in certain types of negligence claims would be increased by 10%. This includes damages for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity suffered by personal injury claimants.

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What are general damages?

Personal injury compensation is split into two types of damages. General damages take into account the pain and suffering you experienced as a result of your injury, both immediately after the incident and in the future. They also cover "loss of amenity," that is, the loss of enjoyment you suffer if you can no longer carry out sports or hobbies such as DIY or gardening.

Special damages compensate you for tangible losses - expenses that can be mathematically determined by the Court. The category includes compensation for loss of earnings, the cost of medical and personal care such as travelling to and from hospital, and the cost of installing specialist equipment such as a stairlift.

The Court's decision to raise damages in personal injury cases only applies to general damages. As it is difficult to precisely calculate the monetary value of pain and suffering, the Court consults guidelines drafted by the Judicial Studies Board before making an award. These are a set of tables with descriptions of various injuries and a guideline range of damages for each type of injury - this is the tariff that Judges should now raise by 10% for all cases decided on or after 1 April 2013.

Personal Injury Compensation Reforms

The 10% uplift to general damages payments is part of a package of reforms recommended by Lord Justice Jackson to reduce the swelling tide of personal injury claims. His main proposal was that success fees (the fee a solicitor receives when a claimant wins their case) should no longer be paid by the defendant, but should instead be deducted from the compensation awarded to the claimant. Under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, No Win, No Fee solicitors can take a maximum of 25% of the compensation awarded to their client.

The 10% uplift in general damages is intended to compensate personal injury claimants for the change in the way Conditional Fee Arrangements are structured.

The upshot is that claims started before 1 April 2013 under an old-style Conditional Fee Arrangement - the type that allows the claimant to recover the success fee from the defendant - will not receive the 10% uplift in general damages. The reasoning behind this is that it is unfair for a claimant to receive a success fee from the defendant and at the same time receive an additional damages payment.

What about out of Court settlements?

The vast majority of personal injury cases never reach court, and there is presently no mechanism for forcing the 10% uplift to be included in out-of-court settlements offers. For personal injury claimants, it remains essential that you select a solicitor who can get you the maximum compensation you are entitled to.

How can Quittance help?

If you think you may have a claim for personal injury and would like to discuss your situation in confidence with a legally-trained specialist, please call 0800 376 1001. Alternatively, complete an online form and we will call you back.

Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor

Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor