How much compensation will I receive for serious injury or negligence?

7 Min Read

When you’ve faced a personal injury through an accident or medical negligence, compensation can help to get your life back on track. How much compensation you could receive depends on the nature of your ailments and the impact these have had on your life and finances.


How is personal injury compensation calculated?


Personal injury compensation is influenced by a set of guidelines published by the Judicial College – how much you might receive depends on where your injury sits in the recommendations.
Every claimant’s circumstances are different, so damages differ depending on the type of injury sustained and how the injury may have affected his or her life. The law seeks to compensate based on the severity and impact of the injury. The amount claimed must relate to the harm caused directly by the negligence.
There are two main types of ‘damages’ (ways in which you were negatively affected by your injury) that you are entitled to claim for as part of clinical negligence compensation.

General damages

General damages are compensation awarded for the injury itself and the pain and suffering caused.

It can be difficult to quantify how much injuries are worth financially. There is guidance, however, on the ‘value’ of particular injuries detailed in the Judicial College guidelines.

Courts consider this guidance, together with previous cases concerning similar injuries, to evaluate the amount of compensation to be awarded in each case.

Special damages

Special damages relate to the compensation you might receive for expenses incurred because of the injury.

The court can award money for expenses you have already incurred as a direct result of the negligence – these are called ‘past losses’. For example, you might incur travel costs when attending hospital to treat injuries, or purchasing mobility aids for your home.

The court can also assess costs you may incur in the future, such as for equipment, carers, or therapies to help you cope. The courts also seek to address whether the harm caused will result in other future loss to you. If you are now unable to work due to the injury, you may be awarded compensation for loss of earnings.

The courts may also award interest on the basis that money lost could have been put to other uses or saved during the period between incurring the expense and the date compensation is awarded.

How much compensation is typical for personal injury and accident claims?

The 16th edition of the Judicial College manual – Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damaged in Personal Injury Cases – was published by Oxford University Press in April 2022.

This sets out standardised recommendations for personal injury compensation. It’s a tool designed to help solicitors to calculate the value of claims for personal injuries.

Compensation awards range from a few hundred pounds to hundreds of thousands, depending on the injury type and severity.

Once your solicitor has assessed your case, you will typically get some guidance on how much compensation you might expect.

Here are some examples of common personal injuries and the corresponding 2022 Judicial College compensation recommendations.

Brain and head injury

The brain is an important organ that controls all sorts of processes in the human body, from thought and emotion to motor skills and breathing. Injuries to the head can therefore have a big impact on quality of life – and compensation limits reflect this.

Brain and head injuries are split into several categories, from minor to very severe.

Claim type Lower compensation limit Maximum compensation
Minor brain or head injury £2,210 £12,770
Less severe brain damage £15,320 £43,060
Moderate brain damage £43,060 £219,070
Moderately severe brain damage £219,070 £282,010
Very severe brain damage £282,010 £403,990


Back injury

A back injury may span problems with the bones, joints, tissue, muscles, or nerves in the back, including the spinal cord.

The severity of back injuries can vary a lot – while there’s no lower compensation limit for minor injuries, severe back injuries can entitle you to many thousands in compensation.

Claim type Lower compensation limit Maximum compensation
Minor back injury £12,510
Moderate back injury £12,510 £38,780
Severe back injury £38,780 £160,980


Pain disorders

Injuries may lead to long-term pain and because of the impact this may have on quality of life, pain disorders have their own set of compensation guidelines. Complex Regional Pain Syndrome – a term that describes prolonged pain, usually in an arm or leg – has separate recommendations.

Claim type Lower compensation limit Maximum compensation
Moderate pain £21,070 £38,490
Severe pain £42,130 £62,990
Moderate Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) £28,030 £52,500
Severe CRPS £52,500 £84,010


How much compensation is typical for medical negligence?

For negligence, compensation is based on the harm caused – how much you’ll receive depends on the nature of your injuries or illness, and the impact these have on your life.

According to NHS Resolution data, the average compensation payout for claims settled with damages paid in 2020-2021 was worth £311,448. A negligence claim may be worth compensation that totals a few hundred pounds or several million – each case is unique.

Enable Law helped one family to win almost £19 million in damages in a case that concluded in 2022. This medical negligence claim was calculated based on the catastrophic nature of 11-year-old Megan’s brain injury, her resulting needs, and the impact on her parents’ careers.

In this case, the final figure was calculated partly by estimating the financial implications of the medical negligence on Megan and her family throughout their lives. Factors such as care and other services, accommodation and equipment can all come into play.

Every case is different, though, and medical negligence claims can vary widely. The best way to get an idea of how much compensation you could pursue is to get in touch with a specialist law firm.

I was given the wrong medication: How much compensation could I get?

For receiving the wrong medication, the stakes can be high – depending on the nature of the error, a range of illnesses may arise or become worse.

For non-traumatic injuries such as those resulting from medication errors, the following guidelines applied in 2021:

Claim type Lower compensation limit Maximum compensation
Illness that lasts for a few days. £860 £3,710
Illness that creates a need for several days’ hospitalisation. £3,710 £8,950
Illness that leads to vomiting and diarrhoea for two to four weeks, with persisting discomfort. £8,950 £18,020
Illness causing symptoms such as severe toxicosis, acute pain or fever. At this level, the ability to work is impacted and you may need to stay in hospital for several weeks. £36,060 £49,270


How much compensation: Key questions


What is PSLA in personal injury?

PSLA stands for pain, suffering and loss of amenity – it’s a key concept in the calculation of general damages for personal injury. A PSLA award is compensation designed to address physical and psychological injuries, any related symptoms occurring in the past, present or future, and the impact of these on everyday function.

What is a ‘moderate back injury’?

A moderate back injury might include cases where there is compression to the lumbar bones, or cases of spondylolisthesis. Defining minor, moderate, and severe classifications can be subjective, however – a legal expert can help to determine where your injury profile might sit within the guidelines.

How do I get maximum compensation?

How much compensation you could get rests on complex factors – speaking to a specialist medical negligence or serious injury solicitor could help you to pursue the best possible outcome. This will help ensure you gain professional insight about any compensation sums offered and what could be available to you.

Find out more about starting a medical negligence claim

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