How much is your finger worth?


21 January, 2008

Personal injury claims are well publicised nowadays. Most people know who to speak to for advice and some have a fairly good idea of the process. However, for most people, how much compensation they are likely to get is more of a mystery.

David Mayor, Personal Injury claim solicitor with Forbes Solicitors explains "If I asked all of my clients how much they thought they should be paid for their injury most would come up with a figure far in excess of what they will actually receive. So why is this? There are perhaps many reasons, but the fact that the majority of cases settle by private agreement makes the figures largely inaccessible to the public and so only a handful of awards are documented. US damages are also far greater than in the UK, and it is the high profile settlements that tend to be broadcast in the media. Court awards are seldom broken down into their constituent parts when published so that the overall figure appears to relate to the injury alone. Take this hypothetical example:

"Preston man's £20,000 payout. A Preston man was awarded £20,000 by the County Court for the leg fracture he sustained in an accident at work…"

Factually, this may be correct, and the effect of the article is to leave the reader thinking that £20,000 is how much he or she can expect if they break their leg at work. However, breaking the award down would show that this man actually received £6,000 for his injury. The remaining amount was for his medical treatment, loss of earnings, and physiotherapy.

A common misconception is that claims are "put in" for a certain amount of money eg. "I want to sue them for £10,000". In actual fact, although a lawyer will have to estimate the likely damages award to assist the Court, the amount that an injured person will receive will be calculated in accordance with strict guidelines for certain brackets of injury.

In addition, what value can you actually place on an injury? What would losing a finger mean to you, in terms of your life and your work? A Solicitor may be able to cope without a finger, but could a joiner?

Let's make no bones about it; personal injury settlements in this country are poor compared to the US. To give you an idea some rough settlement figures are set out below;

  • Whiplash injury to neck lasting 12 months: £2,500
  • Fracture of little finger of non-dominant hand: £1,700
  • Leg fracture (tibia/fibia): £5,000
  • Severe leg injury with permanent disability: £30,000

I think that most would agree that these figures simply do not "compensate" you for the pain and suffering that you have experienced. In spite of this, there does not seem to be any likelihood that settlements will be increased significantly in the near future.

So how are damages assessed? Courts and Lawyers use various tools, including the Judicial Studies Board Guidelines (which sets out approximate ranges of injury values) and previous court decisions involving similar injuries.

You can pursue a personal injury claim on your own behalf. However, to do so could leave you significantly under-compensated. After all, do you know really how much you should receive?

Solicitors are experienced in maximising damages settlements and will ensure that you are adequately compensated for all of your losses. If a reasonable offer is not forthcoming from your opponent, they will argue the matter until a Judge awards you what you are entitled to.

Did you know that your claim could include some or all of the following types of loss?:

  • Personal injury
  • Past lost earnings
  • Future lost earnings
  • Loss of pension rights
  • Loss of business profits
  • Physiotherapy/alternative therapies
  • Private Medical treatment
  • Private health care at home
  • Adaptation of the home to accommodate disabilities
  • Loss of holiday entitlement

If you were unaware that some of this list could be claimed, it is essential that you consult a Solicitor about your claim. Most personal injury work can be carried out without any cost to you and there should be no deductions from your eventual damages payment.

It is true that personal injury compensation payments are too low in this country but an experienced specialist personal injury Solicitor will at least ensure that you get the maximum amount due to you should you be unfortunate enough to suffer an injury that was not your fault."


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