Pursuing a claim for compensation if you’ve been injured can be a time-consuming and arduous process, particularly if you’re recovering from injury while balancing the demands of work and family. It’s for this reason many people want some idea about how much money they should expect from a claim to work out whether it is worth beginning the process by lodging the necessary paperwork.
But there’s no one-size-fits all answer to the question, ‘how much will I get?’ A person may see a highly publicised compensation case in which the claimant was awarded a large sum and think that is what they can expect but in fact, the size of the pay-out very much depends on a range of factors: the individual circumstances of the accident, the seriousness of a person’s injuries, whether they had any pre-existing injuries and the impact of the injury on their future ability to earn an income, among other factors.
We’ll look in more detail at the types of damages involved in calculating the amount of compensation a person is due if they’re injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence.
Types of damages in compensation claims
In legal parlance, there are various ‘heads’ of damages available in the most common types of compensation claims. The primary categories include general damages (non-economic loss), special damages (economic loss), and exemplary or punitive damages (awarded in cases of gross negligence or intentional harm).
General damages: This form of pay-out, also termed ‘non-economic loss’, is designed to compensate individuals for the pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life resulting from the injury. In Queensland, the assessment of general damages is governed by the Civil Liability Regulation 2014 (and the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Regulation 2014 (Qld) for work-related injuries), which requires a court to assess an ‘injury scale value’ (‘ISV’) reflecting the severity of the injury. The Regulations set out items under which injuries are categorised and given a value between 0 (least serious injuries) and 100 (most serious injuries) on the ISV. Damages amounts will increase depending on how high the injury is categorised on the scale.
Other considerations include the injured person’s age, life expectancy, pain, suffering and loss of amenities of life, the effects of any pre-existing conditions and other factors. It should be noted pain and suffering encompasses psychiatric injuries including post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, as well as physical injuries.
Special damages/economic loss: This type of damages payment aims to compensate individuals for income and other financial gains foregone as a direct result of the injury, and seeks to restore them to the financial position they would have been in but for the accident. This category can encompass medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, loss of income, and other out-of-pocket expenses. Calculating special damages requires the claimant to keep, collate and present detailed records and receipts of their injury-related expenses to support the claim.
In general, economic loss is divided into past and future economic loss. Past economic loss involves compensating the claimant for income and financial losses incurred up to the point of settlement or judgment. If the claimant was employed at the time of the incident, past economic loss is calculated by adding up net weekly earnings lost due to the injury. In Queensland, past economic loss is capped at three times average weekly earnings.
Future economic loss, on the other hand, considers the potential ongoing impact on the claimant’s earning capacity and financial well-being. Expert testimony and financial assessments may be used to project future economic losses.
In cases where the injury affects the claimant’s ability to work, compensation may be awarded for the loss of earning capacity. This involves assessing the impact of the injury on the individual’s ability to perform their job, pursue career advancements, or engage in gainful employment, taking into account the likely length of the claimant’s working life.
Compensation for medical and rehabilitation expenses is calculated by tallying the costs incurred for necessary treatments, surgeries, medications, and therapies, including the costs associated with travelling to and from medical appointments.
Paid and gratuitous care: A claimant will only be able to claim the costs of gratuitous domestic care (by a family member, for example) required because of their injury if the care is provided for six hours a week for a consecutive period of six months.
Interest and Costs: In addition to the calculated compensation amount, interest may be added to account for the time it takes to resolve the claim. Legal costs incurred by the claimant may also be included in the final settlement, provided they are deemed reasonable and necessary.
Contact our expert team for more information
The calculation of compensation claims is a meticulous and time-consuming process, which is why entrusting your claim to experienced compensation professionals is the sensible course of action. At ROC Legal, our compensation lawyers team of legal professionals will help give you the best possible picture on what you can expect from your compensation claim, from assessing non-economic loss to quantifying economic losses, the costs of care and interest. Contact us today and ensure you receive the full measure of compensation to which you’re entitled after a traumatic event.