There are two sides in every medical negligence claims case. There is you, the claimant, and your legal counsel. Then there is the defendant side; the health authority or other medical provider with their legal team. They know as much about previous cases and settlements as your team and they have also participated in the tidal wave of medical negligence legal negotiations that has filled the UK courts since ‘08. There has been a massive 80 percent rise in claims in those 6 years.
Both sides in medical negligence cases will be estimating the likely sizes of compensation awards from the start. They do this, in the main, by calculating two factors ‘general damages’ and ‘special damages’. Together these factors will make up the amount of money a patient who has suffered medical negligence will receive.
General damages are the most obvious signs of a changed life. They are the physical differences before a case of medical negligence, and after the incidents. However they may be clear for all to see, but nevertheless are incredibly difficult to put a value on. For example; how much is one eye or one forearm worth? Or what value can be placed on quality of life? There is an in-built reticence to actually put a value on a person’s remaining lifespan and potential contribution to society. It seems both cold and inhuman to do this, but it is exactly what needs to be done if patients are to be compensated and able put the suffering behind them.
Clearly the general damages in a medical negligence case will rise in line with the seriousness of the physical injuries caused by the malpractice or negligence. Severity and duration of pain is also a cause for escalating damages. This positive correlation is always true, even though every individual suffers in a uniquely personal way.
Special damages, despite the name, are much easier to estimate than general damages. A better name for them is ‘economic’ damages. They are the answers to these questions; how much did the unfortunate incidence of medical negligence cost you, especially wages not earned? How much will it cost you in the future, especially wages you would have earned? How much money has the patient had to pay out in order to deal with the after effects of their experience, especially travel costs associated with treatment?