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Title: Accident has delayed my promotion

Date: 18 March 2013

Question

Hello, I was involved in an accident a year ago and my solicitors have been dealing with my injury claim.  I had quite a few injuries but the main one was a broken wrist in my right arm.  I worked in the armed services and because of the injury I have not been declared medically fit to return.  I’m still having treatment and it is likely I’ll need further surgery on my wrist in the future.  My solicitors have told me that I can claim for the pay I have lost to date which is fine.  The problem is that if I was still working I would have likely gone up the ranks and had promotions but now I’m always going to be behind where I should have been because of the accident.  Surely I can claim these losses because I would have likely become a lieutenant by now (as much of the people I started with have become)?

J, Portsmouth

Answer:

Thank you for your query.

For the purposes of this answer I will put the damages you would receive for your actual injuries and the pain it has caused you to one side if I may.  What you are then left with are the losses you have made as a direct result of the accident.  As long as your loss flows as a direct result from the accident, and can be proved as doing so, it should be claimable.  It is an obvious adage but the more evidence you have the easier it will be to recover your losses.  This is simple when you are trying to claim for travel costs such as train journeys to medical appointments as you will have the train ticket to prove the actual amount.  The same is true for your past loss of earnings which will be calculated on the earnings you received pre-accident.  Future losses are always quite speculative especially future loss of earnings.  The reason for this is because we simply do not know what path anyone would have taken had the accident not happened and what promotions or wage increases they may have had.  What you will need, therefore, is factual evidence, such as witness statements from you and from colleagues, to explain what path you likely would have taken and what path your colleagues are currently on in order to create a comparator. 

You should then be able to try and predict where you would have been had you not had the accident and how much your earnings would have been at that time had you not had the accident.  Another problem of course is that if you go back to work, as an example, two years after the accident you will effectively be two years behind where you should have been, and it is likely you will always be two years behind for the remainder of your career.  As such your earnings will be two years behind as well and this is a loss that is arguably caused by the accident.  Insurance companies hate this aspect of claims but the fact is that if their negligence caused you to be behind in your career you should claim for it.  You will therefore need to consider your career path in detail to try and work out your career progression.  This way you will be able to consider what rank you would have retired at had you not had the accident and now what rank you will retire at because of the accident.  You will then be able to claim a sum for this difference.  These calculations can be complicated and as such it is always best to have expert legal advice to be able to calculate them and argue them as part of your claim.

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