The most common question asked by client’s who have suffered a personal injury is; ‘what is my claim worth?’ Everyone wants to know what their claim is worth, what they should expect to receive with regards to compensation but what many of them will not ask is; ‘how is my claim calculated?’
Clients, on occasion, will argue that their claim is worth more than is being advised because ‘Jo Blogs’ down the road received more or ‘someone’ told them it would be worth ‘X’ amount. Many clients believe that liable Defendant’s should pay out sums of money for general inconvenience caused or as an apology for causing the incident. Unfortunately, the system does not work in this manor…so how does it work? Are there rules and guidelines in place to aid when making valuations?
The answer is yes and the guidelines in place are the ‘JSB Guidelines’.
The JSB Guidelines are not ‘law’ but there use is encouraged across the courts and most (if not all) insurers and solicitors will use the guidelines when valuing client’s claims.
Why were the guidelines implemented?
One of the most difficult yet common problems for judges hearing personal injury cases in the civil courts, is the assessment of damages for Claimant’s whom have suffered pain, suffering or loss of amenity as a result of the Defendant’s actions. Damages cannot be precisely calculated and each and every case heard, is different. Whilst there is no method of calculation, judges need to ensure that there is some consistency between awards which are made.
As you can see, judges faced a difficult challenge when valuing claims for personal injury and it was thus decided that a framework needed to be established in order to assist them in the process. This is when the JSB Guidelines were brought into place…1992 to be precise!
The Guidelines intended to provide a framework whereby cases would fall under an umbrella term dictated by the injuries suffered by the Claimant.
What were the intentions of the guidelines?
- They filter out the unnecessary and irrelevant points which are found in case law.
- It illustrates the results of case law in ‘layman’ terms
- The results are depicted in a more logical and coherent format.
What the guidelines do not intend to do:
- They do not intend to provide a solution to the existing problems
- They most importantly, do not intend to restrict the judgment of each individual case.
We now know why the guidelines were implemented and what they intend to do in terms of aiding the courts in valuing personal injury claims so lets look at an example.
Mrs Smith was travelling back from her holiday in Cornwall. She is travelling as a front seat passenger, her husband is driving and her 2 children are seated in the back. All family members are wearing their seatbelts and Mr Smith is always cautious when keeping to the speed limits. They reach a junction and have to stop to give way. It is at this point that their vehicle is impacted from behind at very high speed. Their vehicle is shunted out into the traffic on the main road, causing let another collision with another vehicle.
Mrs Smith immediately notices pain in her neck and back but she is able to move and exit the vehicle unaided. However, Mr Smith and their eldest daughter are trapped in the car. Mrs Smith is able to get her youngest daughter out of the vehicle whom is crying.
The fire brigade is called to cut Mr Smith and their daughter free from the vehicle. Mr Smith is placed on a spinal board and taken straight to hospital, as is their daughter.
They later discover that Mr Smith has a broken leg, some broken ribs and has a severe whiplash injury to his neck and back. Their eldest daughter has a broken nose, severe bruising to her right side and again a whiplash type injury to her back. Mrs Smith and her youngest daughter escaped any serious injury but have whiplash injuries to their neck and back.
So what can they expect to receive with regards to compensation?
Below are some examples from the JSB guidelines relating to the injuries that they have sustained and the brackets in which their compensation rewards are likely to fall.
Mr Smith’s leg injury:
(c) Less Serious Leg Injuries
(i) Fractures from which an Incomplete Recovery is Made
The injured person will be left with a metal implant and/or defective gait, a limp, impaired mobility, sensory loss, discomfort or an exacerbation of a pre-existing disability… £11,500 to £17,750
(ii) Simple Fracture of a Femur with No Damage to Articular Surfaces… £5,750 to £9,000
(iii) Simple Fractures and Soft Tissue Injuries… Up to £5,750
Mr Smith’s leg injury falls in to the ‘less serious leg injury’ category and a valuation in this respect will depend on the severity and duration of the leg injury.
The eldest daughter’s broken nose:
(c) Fractures of Nose or Nasal Complex
(i) Serious or multiple fractures requiring a number of operations and/or resulting in permanent damage to airways and/or nerves or tear ducts and/or facial deformity… £6,750 to £14,750
(ii) Displaced fracture where recovery complete but only after surgery… £2,500 to £3,250
(iii) Displaced fracture requiring no more than manipulation… £1,600 to £2,000
(iv) Simple undisplaced fracture with full recovery… £1,100 to £1,600
Again, the valuation will all depend on the severity and duration of the injury. If a full recovery is made without any complications then a lower valuation is to be expected. However, should the fracture require surgery in order to correct it then she can expect to recover a much higher valuation.
These are just a few examples and the above scenario contains multiple injuries. All injuries will be covered by a framework similar to the examples provided above and all aspects of the injuries will be taken in to consideration alongside the consideration of existing case law.
Whilst the JSB Guidelines are not a definitive answer as to what you will definitely receive with regards to a compensation reward; they act as a very good indicator and you can be sure that they will be used and followed when your own claim is being valued.