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Title: How much are my injuries worth?

Date: 19 January 2011

I had an accident 2 years ago and had to go to multiple appointments with doctors in relation to my injuries. My solicitor tells me that he expects me to receive just £20,000 for my injuries. How is compensation for injuries calculated and what are mine worth?
My injuries were a broken left wrist, a broken right wrist, a broken pelvis and a broken tibia. I also had soft tissue injuries. All my injuries are now better with just minor lasting problems such as discomfort in the cold.  
Jason Duggan, Monmouthshire
How much will I get for my injuries is unsurprisingly one of the most common questions personal injury lawyers get asked. The answer is always dependent upon the facts of each specific case and I would need to see the medical reports to comments accurately.
There is no tariff as such (other than in criminal injuries compensation claims) although there are guidelines that are used to assist in valuing injuries.
The book many lawyers use as a starting point is called the Judicial Studies Board Guidelines to the Assessment of General Damages, currently in its 10th edition. A new edition is released every two years or so and considers the range of awards of damages made by the courts of England and Wales for different categories of injuries and effectively come up with appropriate brackets of compensation depending upon the type of injury, its severity, the duration of symptoms and the effect on the injured person’s life.
There are chapters on paralysis, head injuries, psychiatric damage, sensory injuries, internal organ injuries, orthopaedic injuries, facial injuries and scarring in addition to some more minor types of injury.
Taking your case the starting point would be orthopaedic (bone) injuries. That heading is divided into the various bones in the body, relevant to your case are wrist, leg and pelvis. Each sub heading is then divided into sub-categories depending on the severity of injury. Taking the wrist as an example – awards range from a minor fracture with a full recovery in a few months (£2,300 to £3,125) to injuries resulting in a complete loss of function in the wrist, e.g., where an arthrodesis (bone fusion) has been performed (£31,300 to £39,300).
As your wrist injuries recovered with minimal ongoing problems within 2 years the award for one such fracture would be approximately £4,850 to £6,750. However things get complicated as you broke both wrists and one does not simply add the value of the injuries together as the pain, suffering and loss of amenity is shared to a degree across multiple injuries. About £8,000 for both is probably appropriate.
There are no hard and fast rules and ultimately if the parties cannot agree a judge can decide what he/she wishes to award at his /her discretion.
Pelvic injuries range from say £2,000 to £86,000 depending on the nature of the injury and effect on other organs, for example loss of bowl or bladder control, sexual dysfunction and so on. Your pelvic injury would appear to be worth approximately £7,500 if there has been a full recovery. Your leg (tibia) fracture is likely to be worth say £6,000 on its own.
Taking into consideration all of your injuries and the fact that there is a degree of overlap in compensating the discrete injuries a figure of £20,000 is a reasonable sum assuming a complete recovery with no ongoing problems or complications expected in later life such as an increased risk of arthritis. I repeat that for a more accurate valuation I would need sight of the medical reports.  

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