When the worst happens and an accident causes a life changing injury a major part of your life can be taken away or affected. Your job. Our resident legal eagle Mark Lampkin of Lampkin & Co Personal Injury Solicitors examines how courts deal with making an award where your working life will be affected way into the future.
Accidents happen and it is a sad fact of life that in our overcrowded and overworked world these can often have a catastrophic effect on a victim’s ability to work. Where this is limited to just a few days or a couple of weeks of watching Jerry insult teenage fathers who don’t want to see their offspring or an hour of drivel to see if a vase bought for a fiver will make a tenner at auction, the calculation of loss or earnings will be simple.
Most savvy employers will in fact have a clause allowing them to pay you in full and recover this loss from the “at fault” insurer written in to your contract. If you are an employer this is a simple cost free way of looking after your employees that only Ebenezer Scrooge wouldn’t do.
But if the effects mean you will never return to your previous capacity how do the courts look into the crystal ball and make sure you are compensated accordingly. Well let’s consider the options:-
You are never able to work in any position again.
Here the courts use complicated tables named after the Judge that made them “the Ogden Tables”. Undoubtedly he needed to get out more but these meticulous tables allow a court to predict how long you will live and how much money you need that can be invested at an assumed rate of interest to reimburse you with your lost earnings for the rest of your life. Simples it is not but brilliant it is.
You are able to work in some capacity.
You use the Ogden tables but only use the differential between previous and present earnings. But hang on minute, you are now only able to push trolleys whereas before you had a job you had worked hard to get and had “chosen”. Well the law says that you will also get an award for loss of congenial employment so pure compensation for the upset this causes. Depending upon your chosen career this could be sizeable.
You are back at work but your injuries will last forever.
In such cases you are not actually suffering any loss of earnings but if you ever did lose your job and so fell on the open labour market you could be less likely to get appropriate employment so this prejudice will be reflected in an award of money. This is known as a Smith v Manchester award from the case of the same name and can vary between six months to two years earnings so again is a sizeable and often overlooked part of a personal injury case.
You can work but the future is uncertain.
This last category is very difficult to deal with and often lawyers will give up. Here you may be earning the same or more than before but the injury you have suffered may worsen or the particular area of your work is specialised, subject to market variations or otherwise unpredictable. A court when faced with such a scenario can and will make an award of a figure that feels right and again this award is named after its founding case “Blamire” and has come to symbolise a sweep all system where the facts of the case are such that there is genuine uncertainty as to the appropriate figures to use.
As a personal injury lawyer I often have to operate within an imperfect system but this article shows that I have enough weapons at my disposal to help my seriously injured clients secure the sums they deserve for the earnings they will no longer be able to make. I hope it never happens to you but if it does you can get your lost earnings back.