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Can you put a price on pain?

Compensation obtained for injury caused by substandard treatment on the part of clinicians working in hospitals or general practice is often referred to as Damages. The sum awarded as Compensation is decided by a Court after consideration of the ‘head of damage’.

The ‘head of damage’ generally comprises the categories ‘General Damages’, ‘Past Special Damages’ and ‘Future Special Damages’
Category What is it? How is it calculated? What will be considered
GENERAL DAMAGES Predominantly compensation for pain, suffering and damage caused to the quality of a person’s life. Courts calculate this by reference to historical precedent – other similar cases. Important factors include the extent of the suffering and the impact on the injured person.
PAST SPECIAL DAMAGES Expenses and losses reasonably incurred as a result of the injury. The Claimant is expected to prove that he or she has suffered such financial losses by providing evidence. Common examples are loss of earnings, care, medical expenses, transport costs, accommodation costs and miscellaneous expenses.
FUTURE SPECIAL DAMAGES Further expenses and losses that the Claimant expects to incur. The Claimant is expected to prove that he or she will incur such expenses or losses, often by providing expert evidence. The injury may prevent the Claimant from working or result in him or her having to undergo expensive medical treatment, for example.


Types of payment
Type What is it for? When and how is it paid?
INTERIM PAYMENTS During the course of case, a defendant may make a voluntary interim payment at any time, including before proceedings have been issued. A claimant can make an application to Court for an interim payment at any time after proceedings have been issued and the time provided for filing an acknowledgment of service has expired. When an interim payment has been made, the amount will be deducted from any final damages award.
PERIODICAL PAYMENTS Periodical payments may be appropriate in some situations, such as where a lump sum award is difficult to calculate because the Claimant has an uncertain life expectancy. A periodical payments order may help provide the Claimant with the certainty of having sufficient funds to provide care for the duration of his or her life.
PROVISIONAL DAMAGES The Court also has the power to award provisional damages in cases where the injured party can prove that he or she may develop a specific serious condition or suffer significant deterioration in their mental or physical condition. If the injured party develops such a condition or their condition deteriorates, they are able to return to the court to apply for a further damages award. A dependent or beneficiary can make an application to the Court where a claimant was awarded provisional damages and subsequently dies. 

Our case study telling Mrs Brown's story will show you how these categories work in a real-life case.

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