Personal Injuries 101

personal injuriesWhat are personal injuries? Yes, you guessed it – injuries to your person! To put it in a legal sense, personal injury is harm, pain or suffering to your body, mind or emotions. It does not include damage to property.

Many personal injuries matters arise from vehicular accidents, accidents at work and slips and falls at public places. These matters are often as a result of a person or persons’ negligence or recklessness.

Where it is admitted or found that a party is liable for the injuries, loss and damage suffered by another party, they (or their insurers) are liable to compensate the injured party. In many of the cases involving insurance companies, the matter is settled without having to go to court.

You should note that there is a distinction between quantifiable loss and unquantifiable loss. Quantifiable loss is called Special Damages and unquantifiable loss is termed General Damages.

Special Damages include medical expenses, hospital and doctor’s fees. According to Haynes C in Heeralall v Hack Bros (Construction) Co Ltd (1977) 25 WIR 117,

“Special damages…are awarded in respect of out-of-pocket expenses and loss of earnings actually incurred down to the date of the trial itself. They are generally capable of substantially exact calculation, or at least of being estimated with a close approximation to accuracy.”

On the other hand, General Damages are not capable of exact or approximate calculation. Lawyers, in litigation, or in negotiating a settlement, use the following subheadings under General Damages.

  • Pain and suffering (past and future)
  • Loss of amenities (loss of enjoyment of life)
  • Loss of expectation of life (reduced life expectancy)
  • Loss of future earnings
  • Loss of earning capacity

Thus, apart from recovering money for medical expenses associated with the injuries suffered, the injured party is generally entitled to be compensated for physical, financial and emotional damage suffered as a result of the accident or incident, which are incalculable in terms of dollars and cents.

                                                                                                           – Kara-Je Kellman