Today I thought I’d write a little bit about special damages in relation to personal injury claims.
If you’ve spoken to a solicitor or claims management company then you’ll have probably heard the phrase ‘Special Damages‘ being mentioned. When you make any type of personal injury claim there are two elements to the claim which are general damages and special damages.
General damages is the term used for compensation that is paid out for suffering, pain and loss of amenity arising out of the injuries sustained in an accident. This can be psychological or physical and is usually calculated by using medical reports to ascertain how much pain or suffering was caused by the accident at the time and until the injury is completely healed, or if it’s not going to heal how much pain it will cause in the future.
Special damages is what we say when we refer to any financial loss caused as a direct result of the accident. Things that claimant’s usually claim under special damages are:
Loss of earnings
This is usually the largest element of special damages in a personal injury claim. If the claimant is unable to work then their employer may only pay them the government’s statutory sick pay which can leave a large difference between what they’d normally earn and the amount they receive while off on sick leave because of the accident. If they can prove that they’d normally receive overtime during the period of sick leave then that may be claimed for as well. Loss of earnings can be claimed for self-employed claimant’s too but will require more evidence than an employee would need to provide.
It is possible to include travel costs in special damages. Some people, following an accident, have to travel to numerous doctors, hospital, or physiotherapy sessions and incur travel costs and parking costs. This can also include public transport costs. For this to be claimed you should keep a diary of appointments and where possible receipts for parking costs and public transport receipts.
Care or assistance costs
If while a you were injured you were unable to complete household duties and you had a friend or family member help out then this can be claimed for under special damages. Even if that person did it out of the goodness of their heart and didn’t expect payment then you can claim. Also if you had to pay for a company to do any of the work because you were unable to then this may be claimable as well.
A long period of recovery may require a lot of medication. Each prescription costs money and can soon add up to a fair amount of money. This can be added on to your special damages element of your compensation claim.
Damage to personal items
When you have an accident you usually sustain damage to your belongings. Clothes can get ripped or stained, glasses (spectacles) can become scratched or broken and also things like phones or MP3 players can get damaged or broken if you land on them. These items all need to be replaced or repaired and so can be claimed for.
If your personal injury claim involves damage to your motor vehicle you may think that you’ll be able to add that to special damages as well but usually you’d have to claim on your own motor insurance. However if you have to pay an excess on your claim then you can put that into special damages as you’ve had to pay it as a direct result of the accident.
I won’t list everything that it’s possible to claim for under special damages as it can be quite a long list if you wrote it all down but the main thing is that if you’ve incurred a financial cost due directly to the accident then you should let your solicitor or lawyer know so they can consider it for your claim.
Don’t try to claim for anything extra as that would be deemed as a fraudulent claim and if you do want to claim for anything you should keep receipts and photograph anything that your replacing as damaged or faulty due to the accident.
Another thing to note about these financial losses is that if the claim is settled before the injury is fully recovered then the claim for special damages can include the future i.e. future loss of earnings, future cost of care, future medication cost etc etc. This is so an insurer can clear everything in one go and you don’t make future claims down the road. This is usually better for both parties and can mean complete settlement is achieved earlier rather than waiting for a long-term injury from being completely healed which may take many months or years.