If you've been involved in an accident that was due to
someone else's fault, chances are you can pursue a claim for
damages for personal injury.
Although financial compensation cannot change the past and
people do not always feel they have been fully compensated for the
physical and psychological effects of an injury, this is the only
relief the Court can order.
But how do you calculate what a personal injury claim is worth?
It's difficult to reach a specific figure because each claim is
invariably unique and doesn't just include items on which a
fixed financial value can be placed. If your bicycle is written
off, the replacement cost is easy to calculate. But what if
it's you that is damaged? People often ask "what is my
claim worth?", but they overlook the important issue of,
"how is my claim calculated?".
If the other party's insurers admit liability, recovering
immediate losses and expenses can be relatively straightforward
providing there is some documentary evidence in support. It is
possible, using guidelines recognised by the courts and referring
to previous cases where similar injury has been sustained, to
provide a range of compensation for, say, breaking a leg, but how
do you calculate what an injured person's future care costs may
be, or how much money they will have to pay for medication over a
number of years?
In England and Wales a formula exists for these sorts of
calculations, and up until 11 November 2010, when the Guernsey
Court of Appeal thought otherwise, this method was also used by
lawyers in the Channel Islands. The English formula is intended to
reach an amount reflecting the income an injured person will
receive by investing a lump sum damages award, balanced against
reduction by taxes, costs of living and inflation; effectively
allowing the lump sum to survive the intended period.
On 18 November 1998, Manny Helmot, who had represented the
Channel Islands at the Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games that year,
was cycling in Guernsey when he was involved in a head-on collision
with a car. Manny was in hospital for 36 weeks and suffered a
serious brain injury, loss of his right arm and partial vision; he
continues to require 24-hour care for the rest of his life. The
driver of the vehicle was convicted of dangerous driving following
In January 2010 (some complex personal injury claims can take
many years to conclude), Manny was awarded approximately £9
million by the Royal Court of Guernsey which incorporated a
significant sum for future care costs based on the English formula.
However, Manny's family, now his full-time carers, appealed
this amount on the basis that it wasn't going to be sufficient
to cover his life-long requirements. The Guernsey Court of Appeal
ruled that it was not bound by the English formula and imposed
their own local calculations to try to reflect the real and true
cost. This resulted in Manny receiving approximately £13.7
million overall, which exceeds any personal injury award made in
While the decision is currently under appeal to the Privy
Council by the defendant's insurers, our neighbour has sparked
a movement away from the English formula, not only in the Channel
Islands, but in the UK, where the Lord Chancellor has been asked to
review it. The Guernsey Court of Appeal's decision is
considered ground-breaking, and we await to see if, and when, a
test case comes before the Jersey Court for similar
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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The claim followed the conclusion of two years of litigation (ORD 12/0035 & ORD 12/0034) between the parties in respect of the Bank's contractual claim for amounts owed by TSEL to the Bank pursuant to certain business loans.
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