Posted on Apr 21, 2017 in Personal Injury by Mike Kemp
“What can I claim for?” is one of the first questions a client will ask when we start a claim for them.
When deciding what an injured person can claim for I always think of Gwyneth Paltrow. No, it's nothing to do with conscious uncoupling or an elimination diet – it’s all about the 1998 British rom-com Sliding Doors.
For those of you who have not seen Sliding Doors, what are you waiting for? In the film, Gwyneth, sporting a British accent, stars as a London woman who narrowly catches a tube train home after being fired. Except, in an alternative reality which we also watch unfold she narrowly misses the train. In the reality where she catches the train blonde Gwyneth arrives home early to catch her boyfriend in bed with another woman. They separate and she meets and falls in love with John Hannah. In the other reality, brunette Gwyneth misses the train, is mugged and never discovers her partner's infidelity. Her life becomes ever more wretched as a consequence as she works two jobs to support her love rat boyfriend as he writes a book.
How does this relate to a personal injury claim? In valuing a claim, you must consider the question at the heart of Sliding Doors. How would the life of the injured person have gone differently had the accident never happened - or what would have happened if Gwyneth made the train? Sometimes this can be easy. For example, the injured person would have been pain free and continued to work at full pay of £700.00 after the accident but instead they had had two weeks off work on reduced sick pay of £160.00. The difference is £540.00 and can be claimed from the insurers of the party responsible together with compensation for the pain and suffering. However, sometimes matters can be more complex.
In one recent example, my client was fearful of losing out on a Christmas bonus and so when his accident took place shortly before the festive break he struggled on for a few days. Shortly after New Year he was made redundant and then signed unfit for work. Would he have been made redundant even if had the accident not occurred? If he would have been made redundant anyway, when would he have obtained new employment? How does that differ from the position as it actually transpired? How much would he have earned in his new job? These are the questions that the courts need to answer to decide on an appropriate level of compensation. As a personal injury lawyer, it is my job to provide advice to my clients as to how these questions are likely to be answered by a Sheriff or judge and to argue the point with the insurers or solicitors for the party at fault. In the case of my client, he was signed off unfit for work as a consequence of his injuries and so I was able to argue that he would otherwise have been in employment shortly after he was made redundant and he should be entitled to 4 months lost earnings.
So, now you know the truth: if you want to know what an injured person can claim for, then you just need to think about Gwyneth Paltrow.
If you have had an accident that wasn’t your fault, contact Mike Kemp on 01382 723 171 or firstname.lastname@example.org . Alternatively, contact the Personal Injury Team on 0800 731 8434 who will be pleased to assist further.