So, what are ‘Damages’ anyway?
Damages are more commonly known as ‘compensation’.
If you are bringing a claim, we have to to weigh up the extent of your injury, as well as your past financial losses and consider financial losses that may be suffered in the future.
For the vast majority of our clients their claim is not all about ‘the money’. They are anxious that whatever has happened to them should not be allowed to happen to another patient. They want answers about what has happened to them.
We can try to get those answers and ensure lessons are learnt by the care provider. However, the only real means of recourse our legal system has is to offer is financial compensation by way of ‘damages’. An explanation of the different types of ‘damages’ (also referred to as ‘heads of claim’) is detailed below.
General damages are awarded to compensate you for your ‘pain, suffering and loss of amenity’. So, this accounts for your physical and psychological condition.
General Damages also include compensation for financial losses that cannot be easily mathematically calculated, for example:
- A ‘Smith v Manchester’ award– where you have not lost your job as a result of your injury, but you have a permanent health problem as a result, that would put you at a disadvantage on the open labour market if you did lose your job in the future.
- ‘Loss of congenial employment’–If you have had to give up a job that you particularly liked, or to which you were very well suited.
- Loss of enjoyment of a holiday.
- ‘Loss of Prospects’–This can cover the breakdown of a marriage, or relationship, or a reduction in the prospects of a marriage. It might cover other unusual circumstances, such as a disadvantage in being able to adopt a child.
This element of damages is for all of your financial losses and expenditure, reasonably said to have been incurred as a result of the injury you have suffered. These are items upon which a mathematical calculation can be made. It also looks to the future. An example of this might well be specialist aids and equipment such as a wheelchair that will need to be replaced every 5-7 years. Common things included in ‘special damages’ are:
Loss of Earnings
This aspect of damages can often form the largest part of a claim. We will consider, but for the injury suffered, what would your earnings have been. Is there a period of time when you lost earnings that has now ended or are you suffering from ongoing loss of earnings? Are you working, but unable to do over-time and achieve bonuses in your usual way? Have you had to reduce from full-time work, to part-time work? Have your career/promotion prospects been compromised?
Care and Assistance
Your family and friends may have helped you with your personal needs, and around the home, after your injury. They don’t expect to be paid and are doing this out of love and affection for you. However, any claim should take into account the time they have spent, as a value can be placed on this. It is especially important if such care needs are ongoing, as this can really add up. If so, this can be a substantial head of claim. We will consider the number of hours of care spent by your family or friends and we will put an hourly rate on that.
There may be future care needs and consideration has to be given as to whether friends and family should be relieved of the obligation to always be there to provide such care. Often future care is claimed at a higher rate, on the assumption that professional carers will be recruited.
In addition, there may be other professional care needs, such as for physiotherapy, occupational therapy etc. If you want to get back to work, but are having difficulties with that, then a vocational rehabilitation expert can report in your case and also help you practically.
Accommodation and household bills
As a result of your injury, you may be staying at home for periods of time when you were ordinarily working before. This, in turn, can lead to increased heating and electricity bills which can be accounted as part of your damages. Have you had to pay others to do tasks you would normally attend to yourself, such as gardening, DIY and decorating? Further to this, if you have significant problems with your mobility, you may well require funds to assist with specialist accommodation or even a house move. If so, an architect may be needed to provide a report.
Items may have been bought for you during a hospital stay, or to make your time of incapacity more comfortable, or less tedious. Any reasonably incurred expenditure can be brought into your claim. Travel costs are accounted for, in relation to people visiting you in hospital and your travel costs for extra medical appointments. A change of car may be needed to account for your injury.
Court of Protection Costs
Sometimes in the most serious circumstances your case may need to be overseen by the Court of Protection as if your injury has resulted in the loss of a degree of mental capacity. If this situation arises then an award will be made with a view to covering the cost of the administration of your affairs by a Deputy, appointed by the Court.
About Medical Solicitors
Our friendly team of specialist lawyers at Medical Solicitors have a lot of experience in bringing successful medical negligence claims.
Compensation can be claimed where there has been delay in getting a patient to hospital, delay in diagnosis, inappropriate advice given concerning care options and risks and benefits of such options, where there have been excessive delays in providing actual treatment, or where there has been any substandard care that amounts to actual Medical Negligence.
Do contact our friendly team of specialist lawyers at Medical Solicitors. We conduct most of our Clinical and Medical Negligence claims under ‘No Win, No Fee’ agreements, also known as Conditional Fee Agreements. So, you do not have to worry about how you are going to afford to bring a medical negligence claim for compensation. You have nothing to lose in speaking to us.
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