A successful claim for personal injury will usually yield an award of compensation that can be divided into two distinct categories: 1) General Damages (the award for your pain, suffering and loss of amenity) and 2) Special Damages (the award for actual losses and expenses you have incurred).
Your general damages are usually proven by medical report(s) following an examination by an expert. The onus for proving special damages falls largely on you as the claimant to provide evidence of the losses and expenses you’ve suffered.
You can maximise your chances of recovering the full amount for your losses if you start some straightforward housekeeping in recording them as soon as you can should you be injured as a result of an accident that wasn’t your fault. With reliable evidence, you’re less likely to have your special damages questioned or reduced.
There are more ways you can end up out of pocket after an accident than you might first think. Below is some useful guidance on the kind of things you can gather together to help you get the special damages you deserve (of course, it’s not always possible to provide all the evidence detailed in this list, and indeed some items may not apply).
- Try to retain proof of any prescriptions you have to pay for and any over-the-counter medicines you have bought. Even if you don’t, make sure you keep a record of how much you paid, when and what for (NB you can only claim for medication for the injuries you sustained in the accident).
- If you have paid privately for medical care, physiotherapy or other rehabilitative treatment, keep hold of any invoices you receive (or ask for them if not provided).
- If you are already part of a private healthcare scheme and have had to pay a policy excess, retain correspondence from the provider showing this.
- Keep hold of any invoices, quotes and receipts if you end up having to shell out for repairs to a motor vehicle or bicycle. It’s also useful to take photographs of any damage as soon as you can after the accident so that you have evidence of the extent of any damage.
- If you’ve had to pay a policy excess to arrange repairs through your own insurer, keep a copy of any correspondence showing this.
- Where the vehicle is beyond repair, retain any quotes you get for the estimated value.
Other items damaged in an accident
Important personal items such as laptops, mobiles, clothing and jewellery are often damaged or lost in accidents. Gather as much of the following evidence as you can about both the pre- and post-accident condition of damaged personal items, along with repair details:
- Photos of damage
- Written description of damage
- Purchase date (with a receipt if you still have one)
- Purchase cost
- Repair cost with any quotes or invoices you have obtained
The insurers of a liable third party have a duty to cover the pre-accident value of personal effects damaged in an accident; they do not have to fund the cost of an equivalent brand-new replacement.
Loss of Earnings
If you have to take time off work because of personal injury, you might suffer a loss of earnings. This could take many different forms depending on your employment and the extent of injuries, for example:
- the difference between your normal wage and the company/statutory sick pay you receive (if any)
- self-employed work you have been unable to undertake due to incapacity
- reduced hours upon return to work
- loss of overtime
- loss of opportunity at work, either to progress your career or maintain capacity in your existing role
Typically, if you are employed then your solicitor would ask for copies of payslips for 3 months/13 weeks prior to the accident, along with evidence of wages and/or state benefits received since the accident. If you are self-employed, then you may need to assemble a more detailed evidential picture of earnings before and after the accident which may include offers of work, accounts, income evidence and invoices for work done.
To reasonably claim lost overtime, your pay slips would need to show that you worked regular extra hours before the accident in order to calculate the reasonable loss of earnings at the overtime rate. Loss of opportunity is a more complex issue and it’s likely that your solicitor would help you to gather evidence to assist with your claim for this.
Help and care after an accident
Where claimants are seriously injured, damages for the costs of care can often be the largest element of the claim. More commonly, people need help carrying out domestic and personal care tasks (eg bathing, household cleaning, shopping, gardening etc) for a shorter period after an accident. This care may be carried out by professionals or usually family members:
Always record: details of each task to include: date and time, frequency, type of task, who helped you, time spent on each occasion.
Try to retain: invoices and receipts for any care services you pay for.
Remember that the cost of care can only be reclaimed for the level of assistance above that which was required before the accident. At the moment there is no standard hourly rate for paid care; this element of a claim is often subject to negotiation between the parties.
Travel and Mileage
You are entitled to claim back the costs of travel which would not have been incurred if the accident hadn’t happened. This could be travel to medical appointments and examinations, travel to physiotherapy sessions or journeys other people have had to make to help you.
Always record: details of each journey to include date/time, purpose of journey, starting point, destination, cost and total distance travelled.
Try to retain: Travel tickets, taxi receipts, parking tickets, receipts for fuel purchases.
Mileage is typically claimed at a standard rate per mile rather than based on fuel purchase.
Remember: The better the evidence, the more chance there is of you reclaiming the full amount you deserve!
If you require further help or advice in relation to a claim for special damages you can call our freephone helpline on 0800 195 95 90, request a callback here, or alternatively submit a claim online here.