What's the difference between General and Special Damages?
Fundamentally, the law aims to address harm caused to individuals by restoring them to their pre-injury state, but in the case of a personal injury claim, it's impossible to fully reverse the harm.
Instead, compensation is awarded to the injured party (claimant) based on the type, length, and severity of the injury, as well as the effect it has had on the individual's quality of life.
When making a personal injury claim, the legal term for the compensation awarded to the injured party is "damages", which includes two main components: general damages and special damages.
General damages is the compensation awarded to the claimant for non-financial losses such as Pain, Suffering, and Loss of Amenity (PSLA) resulting from the injury.
General damages would be awarded for the physical and emotional trauma experienced by the injured cyclist, as well as any lasting effects or impact on their quality of life. The amount of general damages awarded will depend on the severity and duration of the injury, as well as the impact on the cyclist's life.
The amount of general damages paid will be determined by the court or through negotiation with the defendant’s solicitor or their insurance company. General damages are calculated with reference to the Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases, published by the Judicial College.
Special damages are awarded for any financial losses incurred by the claimant as a direct result of the accident. For a cyclist, special damages can include:
- Medical expenses: e.g. hospital bills, prescriptions, and any other healthcare expenses.
- Property damage: e.g. bike damage, damage to clothing or any other cycling equipment.
- Loss of earnings: e.g. lost income during the time you were unable to work.
- Loss of future earnings: e.g. compensating you if you are unable to work in the future or have to work in a lower-paying job as a result of your injuries.
- Travel expenses: e.g. public transportation or taxis to medical appointments
- Care costs: e.g. the cost of help with day-to-day tasks due to your injuries.
- Adaptations to your home or vehicle: e.g. the cost of any special equipment, such as wheelchair ramps, or modifications to your home or car.