When you receive compensation from a personal injury claim, in most cases, there are damages paid for losses beyond the personal injury itself, such as loss of earnings or replacement of damaged clothing.
The claim for the pain and suffering associated with the injuries is known under Scots Law as “solatium”. In England and Wales, the term used is “general damages”. We value the claim for solatium by finding reports of previous cases from the courts where the claimants had similar injuries. In general terms, the valuation depends on the nature of the injuries sustained and the length of time it takes you to recover from them. Valuing personal injury claims is not a straightforward exercise because no two cases are ever precisely the same. Yet justice requires that there should be consistency between awards.
It is now 20 years since the first publication of the Judicial Studies Board (“JSB”) Guidelines. The JSB Guidelines are in booklet form and are the result of the deliberations of a committee set up to reflect the awards being made by judges for damages for pain and suffering in a logical way – so the job for solicitors and judges in quantifying that part of the claim is simplified as far as possible.
The 11th edition of the Guidelines, now renamed the Judicial College Guidelines, was published in Autumn 2012, overseen by a brand new editorial team. They have increased awards overall by an average of around 8-9% as compared to the 10th edition.
The latest edition features three new chapters covering:
- Injuries resulting in death;
- Chronic pain conditions;
- Minor injuries.
The new Guidelines make a concerted effort to redress the discrepancy in awards between men and women for facial scarring. In her foreword, retired Judge, Dame Janet Smith, expresses the view that a person’s gender should not be a factor in the amount they receive for solatium. The editors seem to share this view but they have made no wholesale changes to the chapter on facial injuries. As they say in the introduction to the current addition, they “have maintained the gender-based sections with a ‘health warning’ and look forward to judicial decisions which grapple with this issue.”
The highest suggested award for facial scarring in a woman is now £69,500. For men, the equivalent figure is £46,900. This is a difference of £22,600. The editors’ recommendation is that the upper end of each female bracket should now be regarded as equally applicable to men and women. It will be interesting to see the extent to which the courts take this suggested change in approach to the valuation of facial injuries on board. The editors’ hope seems to be that in a future edition of the Guidelines it will be possible to do away with separate sections for males and females in relation to facial injuries altogether.
If you have been injured in an accident and suffered facial disfigurement, it is important to obtain advice from a specialist personal injury solicitor and you should not hesitate to contact Peter Brash of Moray Claims for free, without-obligation advice.