A question that regularly crops up at the beginning of most new cases that we take on is ‘how much is this going to be worth?’
The answer is never so simple, even with the most experienced solicitor, upon taking instructions it is far too early to tell. The severity of the accident does not dictate the valuation, the severity of the injuries do. An innocuous accident resulting in significant injuries would be worth more than a serious incident where the Claimant escapes with mere scratches.
Only when we have had the admission of liability and obtained medical evidence are we really in a position to determine a true valuation.
At this point we can look at the Judicial College (JC) Guidelines. This is what a judge would use if the claim was to go before them, only if the valuation of the claim can not be agreed between the two parties. These guidelines cover a wide ranging selection of injuries and break down a valuation depending on the diagnosis.
To explain further and show how it can apply, the claimant that was in a dangerous car accident but was lucky to escape with superficial injuries lasting a matter of a couple of months. If he had a two month back injury, Chapter 7(B)(c)(iii) would dictate the claim could be worth up to £2,150 for the pain, suffering loss and amenities (PSLA).
On the other side of the spectrum an injury suffered in a more harmless accident may result in more grievous consequences depending on the Claimant. If he was to be injured for 2 years with a full recovery Chapter 7(B)(c)(ii) would mean it could be worth up to £6,920 for PSLA for back injuries.
These guidelines are regularly updated to provide fair and reasonable compensation for those injured and now have adapted to Simmons v Castle  by including 10% uplift for cases settled after the 1st April 2013 unless a success fee can be recovered by the paying party. This uplift is included because government reforms meant that a success fee was no longer recoverable from the third party by Claimant solicitors.
Whilst we can look at the JC Guidelines at the beginning of a claim to provide inclination, most solicitors will wait for a full recovery before preparing a quantum assessment.
Case law can sometimes deviate slightly from the guidelines, solicitors will always use the JC Guidelines in conjunction with case law to provide clients with their full entitlement. So when a client comes to us and is still symptomatic and ask how much their claim may be worth, we aren’t evading the question when we say we don’t know, we really don’t.