As you might already know, if you are injured in an accident caused by somebody else, you might be entitled to claim compensation. That means you could be compensated following an accident at work, a slip, trip or fall, or a road traffic accident amongst other things. If you are awarded compensation following your claim, the settlement amount you’re paid will typically be based on general damages and special damages.
In this guide, we’ll explain the main differences between general damages and special damages. We’ll also look at when you might be eligible to claim compensation, and how much compensation for general damages you might be awarded.
Our team is here to help if you are considering claiming compensation. Our no-obligation telephone consultation is where you can ask as many questions as you like. An advisor will explain your options and provide free legal advice about your claim. If it appears to be strong enough, you could be connected with a personal injury solicitor from our team. You’ll benefit from their expertise on a No Win No Fee basis if they agree to work for you meaning you won’t need to pay them in advance.
To learn more about what general and special damages are, please read on. If you’d prefer to discuss a personal injury claim with us straight away, call us on 0800 6524 881 today.
Table of contents
- What Are General Damages?
- What Are Special Damages?
- Am I Eligible To Make A Personal Injury Claim?
- Evidence To Support Your Claim For General And Special Damages Compensation
- Time Limits For Making A Claim
- Claiming Damages On A No Win No Fee Basis
General damages are awarded to compensate for the direct physical and/or psychological effects of the accident, and loss of amenity where the claimant’s injuries can be clearly linked to the defendant’s actions or behaviour.
Examples of what general damages compensate for include:
- Physical pain and suffering – If you are injured in an accident, you will almost certainly experience some measure of pain and suffering for which you can claim general damages.
- Physical injury or impairment – You can also claim under this category if you suffered some disfigurement or disability that makes it difficult to move about freely or perform everyday tasks.
- Mental pain and anguish – In addition to inflicting pain, memories of the accident can cause psychological injuries and ongoing trauma, resulting in persistent stress and anxiety, which you are entitled to be compensated for.
- Reduced quality of life – Pain, mobility restrictions, and mental anguish can make performing even everyday tasks more challenging resulting in increasing dependence on others. Some accident victims lose interest in activities they once enjoyed because of the difficulties involved in pursuing these activities.
- Loss of companionship – Damages for loss of companionship may be paid to family members in wrongful death cases.
Compensation payouts for general damages are largely based on the severity of the injuries, how the claimant has been affected so far, and how they might be affected in the future.
Rather than guessing compensation payouts for general damages, solicitors, courts, and insurers can use compensation ranges from the Judicial College to calculate how much compensation should be awarded for certain injuries.
To give you some idea of how much compensation your injury might be worth, we’ve added the compensation calculator below:
It’s important to note that the amount you might receive could vary from those listed as each claim is unique. To help ensure you’re compensated fairly, a medical assessment is usually needed as part of the personal injury claims process. This involves a meeting with an independent medical expert who’ll assess your injuries and provide a prognosis in a report for all parties involved in the claim.
Special damages are awarded to compensate for actual out-of-pocket expenses/financial costs that a claimant has incurred as a direct result of the defendant’s actions or behaviour.
The idea is that special damages will help return you, financially, to the position you were in prior to the accident.
When calculating special damages compensation, your solicitor will need proof such as any receipts you have of costs and expenses you’ve suffered due to your personal injury. These aren’t the only factors that could be claimed back as part of special damages, however.
Special damages compensation could cover:
- Short-term medical expenses – Short-term medical expenses might include doctor’s consultation fees, hospital charges, and all other expenses related to prescription medication, diagnostic tests, and hospital stays.
- Long-term medical expenses – Some injuries may require you to undergo long-term physiotherapy or other medical treatments. If this was made necessary because of the accident, you could claim compensation under special damages.
- Transportation costs – This helps to cover the cost of travelling to and from the hospital for ongoing visits, for example, whether you travel by private car, taxi, bus or train.
- Loss of earnings – Compensation for loss of earnings is applicable if your salary was cut or if you lost out on some monetary bonus or other perks because your injuries forced you to stay away from work for a period of time.
- Loss of earning capacity – If the injuries are such that you are unable to return to your former place of employment and are forced to take up a lower-paying job, you may be able to claim compensation under this category.
- Repair or replacement of damaged property – If your personal property was damaged in the accident, you can claim compensation for the actual cost of repairing or replacing it.
- Care costs – Care costs associated with the time somebody else spent supporting you due to your injuries.
- Home/vehicle adaptions – The cost of making changes to your home or vehicle. These might be needed to improve your quality of life if you’re left with a permanent disability.
Loss of earnings is often the largest part of any personal injury claim (besides the general damages element). Getting this calculation right is important especially if your earnings are likely to be reduced in the future because of your injuries. This is one of the key reasons we’d suggest taking on a personal injury solicitor if you do decide to claim.
It may be a good idea to seek legal advice before spending money because of your injuries. If your claim is accepted, one of our solicitors will advise you on whether your costs could be recouped as part of the claim. Additionally, you should retain invoices or receipts to help prove any expenditure.
Now you know the main differences between general damages and special damages and what you might be eligible to claim compensation for, let’s take a look at the criteria for making a claim. The easiest way to do this is to see if you can answer yes to the following questions:
- Did the defendant (the party you’re claiming against) owe you a duty of care?
- Was the defendant negligent in some way?
- Did their negligence cause an accident in which you sustained injuries?
If you have answered yes to all three questions, you could be eligible to seek both general and special damages as part of a personal injury claim.
If you’re not sure about whether a duty of care can be established, don’t worry. Our advisors will check this if you call. Generally, though, legislation like the Road Traffic Act 1988, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Occupiers Liability Act 1957 can be used to prove a duty of care existed. Please give us a call on 0800 6524 881 if you’d like us to check your eligibility to claim.
If you do decide to start a personal injury claim, it’s imperative that you can provide evidence to prove why you should be paid compensation, both for general damages and special damages where applicable. Common types of evidence you could use could include:
- Witness details. If liability for your accident is not agreed upon by the defendant, your solicitor could ask any witnesses to provide a statement of what they saw.
- Camera recordings. Another good method of proving how your accident happened is to request CCTV footage for a personal injury claim. This is something you should try to secure quickly as it’s not often retained for too long.
- Medical notes. If you were treated at a GP surgery or a hospital, your medical notes could be obtained to help prove the extent of your injuries. These may also include the doctor’s thoughts on how long you’ll take to recover.
- Accident report forms. If you had an accident on a business property or you were injured in a public place, you should report it. By law, most organisations need to keep an accident report book. The report about your accident could help to prove what happened and when your accident occurred.
- Photographs. You could also take pictures of the accident scene to try and demonstrate what caused your injuries. Ideally, these need to be taken as soon after the accident as possible and, preferably, before anything is removed from the scene.
Finally, it is sometimes useful to write down everything that you remember about the accident. By doing so, you’ll find it easier to explain how you’ve been affected by your injuries. You could also write down any costs (special damages) you’ve incurred and keep track of any dates you couldn’t work or participate in social events.
All personal injury claims have a 3-year time limit. This means you need to claim within 3 years of:
- The date of your accident; or
- The date your injuries were diagnosed (if later).
One main exception to this rule is where a child has been injured. In this scenario, the 3-year time limit does not apply if a parent or guardian claims as their litigation friend before the child turns 18 years old.
We hope this guide has explained the difference between general damages and special damages. If you would like to take action and claim compensation, one of our solicitors could represent you on a No Win No Fee basis.
The best way to check if you’re eligible to claim is to call one of our advisors on 0800 6524 881 today. They will go through everything with you and offer you free legal advice about your options. If your claim is deemed to be suitable, they’ll ask one of our solicitors to contact you to review your options further.
Thanks for reading our guide about the difference between general damages and special damages, and if you have any further questions, please call or use live chat to get in touch.