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Levels of Compensation for Car Accident Claims
Type of Damages
Car accident compensation levels can vary widely, and are notoriously difficult to predict. Courts award damages not only for the suffering and pain caused by the personal injury suffered, but also for ancillary matters such as loss of income and property damage. In fact, these can often outweigh the damages awarded for the primary injury itself.
In order to avoid the damages awarded for similar injuries on different occasions varying too greatly, judges will follow guidelines based on previous cases. These enable them to place the level of damages within certain predictable brackets, and mean that any settlement negotiations are not undertaken without any idea of the amount that the court is likely to award. However, the guidelines provided are generally broad, and judicial discretion within them is still wide.
Compensation for Common Injuries
The most common claims for car accident compensation involve various types of whiplash injuries, for which general damages can range widely. An injury which results in neck pain which lasts from between a few weeks and a year, for example, is likely to attract general damages of between £1,000 and £3,000. If the neck pain or stiffness is permanent, it could be possible to successfully claim from between £9,000 to £16,500. On the rare occasions in which the cervical spine is permanently damaged, claims can reach the level of £97,500.
Other injuries follow a similar pattern, with general damages ranging from relatively low levels (for example, up to £3,000 for a back injury from which the victim fully recovers within a year) to extremely significant amounts (back injuries which result in paralysis can reach £100,000 in general compensation). It is, however, the ancillary damages which are likely to make up the bulk of many claims.
The range of ancillary costs which can be claimed are wide. In car accidents, any damage to your vehicle can be considered, including the cost of purchasing a new car if your old one was written off. You can also claim for the cost of any hire vehicle used whilst your car was being repaired, and for travel expenses incurred as a result of the accident. Crucially, you can also claim for losses which directly spring from the injury. This includes loss of income and amenity, which – depending on the severity of the damage you have suffered – can amount to many thousands of pounds.
You should be aware, however, that your own actions can also affect the amount of compensation available. Under English law, your own ‘contributory negligence’ can reduce the amount of compensation you receive, sometimes significantly. The most common example is a failure to wear a seat-belt, which leads to an average reduction of 25% in the amount of damages awarded. Ultimately, the court will take all of the circumstances into account, and strive to arrive at a fair amount of compensation which is in line with previous judgments in similar cases. Contact a no win no fee car accident solicitor to learn more about compensation levels specific to your case.
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