The Judicial Studies Board
The organisation known as the Judicial Studies Board train both England and Wales’ high court, crown court and county court judges as well as the lay magistrates, chairmen and tribunal judges in both Great Britain and Ireland.
The majority of the legal material used for training is produced and compiled by the Judicial Studies Board themselves and includes the guidelines which should be used when dealing with personal injury cases for the assessment of general damages.
The guidelines are frequently updated by members of the Judicial Studies Board and give advice and information on the appropriate awards which should be issued with regard to personal injury claims.
Although a copy of the guidelines will automatically be issued to every judge who hears personal injury cases the guidelines are also widely used by many legal professionals involved in the personal injury sector.
The guidelines were first produced in 1992 with the aim of bringing a more structured approach to compensation awards, keeping them at a consistent level, and eliminating the need for some of the guesswork when attempting to give a claimant’s pain and suffering financial value.
General damages is the term used to describe the pain and suffering and any other loss experienced by the claimant as a result of an accident and subsequent injuries. An individual’s/claimant’s level of general damages will be assessed by their personal injury solicitor when they make a claim for compensation in order to ascertain the appropriate award amount they should receive in line with the injuries they have suffered.
The general damages assessment will include:
- The seriousness of the injury/injuries the claimant has sustained and whether the injury has resulted in the claimant suffering any broken bones, any disfigurement or any physical or mental impairment
- Whether the claimant is likely to make a full recovery or whether they are likely to suffer any long term affects/side affects in the future including both physical and mental affects
- Whether the claimant has experienced any loss of earnings/income or is likely to experience any loss of earnings/income in the future as a direct result of the accident
- The degree of pain the claimant has suffered or continues to suffer
- How the claimant’s day to day living has been affected by the accident/injury including any loss of reputation or loss of amenity experienced as well as any changes which have had to take place as a direct result of the accident
The guidelines themselves cover the following injuries:
- Injuries which include paralysis
- Injuries to the head
- Injuries which result in psychiatric damage
- Injuries which affect the senses
- Injuries to the internal organs
- Injuries to the face
- Injuries which result in scarring to parts of the body
- Injuries which include damage to the hair
- Injuries which include the skin condition dermatitis
Each category is then split into sections showing the different grades of injuries which fall under each heading. The grading system makes it far easier for judges to reach a fair decision regarding the appropriate award to be paid out depending on whether the injury falls in the lowest, middle or highest bracket in the guidelines.
Often the guidelines will be used in conjunction with documentation from previous personal injury cases which occurred under the same circumstances or had the same or similar outcome to reach a fair decision when deciding on the award.
Under some circumstances it may make more sense for a claimant to wait until they have made a full recovery from their injuries before putting in a claim as this will give the judge a clearer idea of the amount of time it took the claimant to recover and how long the side affects of the injury lasted.
Naturally, the longer the period of time that the claimant is suffering the higher the payout they can expect and if a claimant puts in a claim before they have made a full recovery from their injuries they may well be missing out on any further compensation they are entitled to.