Special Damages Definition

What is the Special Damages Definition?

The special damages definition involves the aspect of a personal injury compensation settlement which allows the recovery of any financial costs which are directly related to a loss, injury or worsening of a condition that is was suffered due to the negligence of somebody else.

The function of special damages in the case of personal injury claims is to take into account any economic loss which has occurred due to a loss or injury, and to restore your finances to the same state as though the accident and injury had never occurred.

In order to ensure that personal injury special damages are a factor in your personal injury compensation claim, it is crucial to keep receipts of any expense which you have already acquired because of your injury, as well as a plausible estimate of costs which you are likely to develop in the future on account of your injury.

As coping with your injury can already be staggering, the financial costs that come with it may not necessarily be the first thing on your mind. However – bearing in mind that a special damages time limit applies – it is recommended that you consult with a personal injury regarding your case at the earliest opportunity.

What is Covered under the Special Damages Definition?

Attributable under the special damages definition are the costs for virtually any reasonable expense which arose from your loss or injury. To break this down further, it can be useful to differentiate between “incidental” special damages and “consequential” special damages.

Incidental special damages arise from expenses which you acquired while rectifying a situation. For instance – if you broke your leg in a car crash on the way to the airport in order to catch a flight for your holiday, incidental special damages will cover any medical treatment (prescriptions or treatments not available on the NHS), as well as the cost of repairing your car.

Consequential special damages will arise from expenses which have been acquired as a consequence of your situation, and as a result are wide-ranging. In the example above of the car crash on the way to the airport, consequential damages can be claimed from:-

  • The price of alternative transport if incapable of driving
  • The price of a replacement holiday
  • The price to cover home help or child carer if necessary
  • Compensation for any income lost, overtime payments and contributions to a pension
  • If your injuries have confined you to a wheelchair, the cost of restructuring your home

Any disappointment you have suffered as a result of missing your holiday will not be compensated under personal injury special damages, nor will compensation for any decline you have suffered in your lifestyle as a result of your injuries or compensation for psychological damage you have suffered. These factors of a personal injury claim are compensated under general damages, which your solicitor can describe to you in detail if necessary.

How can Contributory Negligence Affect Personal Injury Special Damages?

Regardless of the special damages definition, your own negligence can affect the amount to which you may be entitled. Just as a percentage of general damages would be reduced from your total amount if it was judged that you were – to some degree – responsible for your own injuries, contributory negligence may also reduce the special damages to which you may be eligible.

In the example above, you may be eligible to the special damages as noted. However if it is found that you were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of your accident, this could be regarded as negligence towards your own well-being. Your personal injury special damages could be reduced appropriately, regardless of whether or not there was a connection between your injuries and not using a seatbelt.

Special damages could be reduced by as much as 33 per cent if a seat belt is not worn – a considerable amount, especially if your injuries prevent you from working again.

What is the Special Damages Time Limit, and how does it Apply to Children?

The special damages time limit should be noted by any potential claimant. A time limit of three years from the date of knowledge of an injury has been applied to personal injury cases since the Limitations Act of 1980. Special damages can account for a large proportion of a personal injury compensation case, and the same time limit applies.

Exceptions can apply to the special damages time limit for numerous reasons, and if the claim for compensation relates to a child, the three year time limit will begin only when they reach their eighteenth birthday.

In the case of a young child suffering a devastating injury, a personal injury claim should be made immediately. This can be done by a parent or guardian acting on account of a child as a “litigation friend”, allowing for the release of personal injury special damages to cover medical and educational needs, and for members of the child’s family to give up work in order to care for the child if necessary.

What are Unsolicited Offers of Compensation?

Any unsolicited offers you may receive from insurers can have an effect on the compensation you may be due as per the special damages definition. There is the possibility that you may be directly contacted by the insurance company of the negligent party with a compensation offer which you will receive in return for settling your claim quickly. This can happen before you have even contemplated making a claim.

The likelihood that the insurance company has performed a thorough analysis of your injury is slim, and as a result there is a strong possibility that the compensation being offered is inadequate. Being undercompensated will increase the risk of having insufficient funds in order to pay for your medical costs or provide for your family while you are unable to work.

If you are concerned about your financial situation as you are awaiting compensation, it is advised you consult with your solicitor regarding the possibility of receiving interim payments until your claim is resolved to satisfaction.

Where can I Receive Further Information on Personal Injury Special Damages?

Under the special damages definition there is no estimation involved with respect to how much you may be able to recover – special damages are the quantifiable expenses which you have already been subjected to, or are likely to face in the future, as a result of the injuries you sustained in an accident caused by the negligence of another party.

If you require further clarification as to what costs are eligible to special damage compensation or you wish to know more about the special damages time limit, you should consult a solicitor at the earliest opportunity in order to discuss the accident in which you were injured.


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