The latest industry insights into compensation law.

“How much is my claim worth?” – Considerations for Calculating Future Loss

When a person sustains an injury as a result of the negligence of another, they may be able to make a claim against the entity at fault for any loss or ‘damage’ that they have sustained or they will sustain as a result of the injury.

It is common for injured people to ask the question “how much is my claim worth?”  Unfortunately, this is not an easy question to answer and there are many factors which influence what a person may be awarded by a judge if the claim was to proceed to a trial.

The concept of compensation in a personal injury claim is to, as best as possible, place the injured person in the same position that they would be in had they not sustained the injury.  While this concept sounds simple in theory, there are many considerations that must be taken into account when assessing an injured person’s damages.

The difficulty often arises when trying to determine what loss or damage will be sustained into the future as a result of the injury.  Some examples of future damages include a future loss of income or for future expenses that may be incurred for medical treatment.  The different aspects of an injured person’s loss are referred to as the ‘heads of damage’.

One of the heads of damage which often makes up one of the largest portion of a claim for compensation relates to future economic loss.  This is usually calculated using one of two methods: by extrapolating an ongoing loss between pre-injury and post-injury income, or if the ongoing loss is not as clearly distinguishable, it can be calculated on a ‘global’ basis (i.e. an estimated lump sum figure).

In order to reduce the level of speculation associated with the calculation of future economic loss, it is desirable to use the first method when possible.

Unfortunately, nobody has a crystal ball to be able to look into the future to know exactly what impact an injury will have on a person.  Therefore, there is a level of speculation for all calculations of future loss and damage.

However, the level of speculation for each future loss claimed may vary based on the likelihood of the loss occurring.  In order to prove that a loss is likely to occur, it is necessary to have evidence which establishes this.  This evidence is often provided by medical experts who can provide a greater insight into how an injured person will be impacted into the future.

The equation becomes even more complicated when there are multiple experts who have different opinions on the future impacts of person’s injury.  When a personal injury claim proceeds to a trial before a judge, the judge considers all of the competing evidence and decides which opinions are to be accepted.

The calculation of future damages will then be based on the evidence which is accepted by the judge.  Therefore, it is imperative for an injured person to have high quality evidence in support of their claim to increase the likelihood that their evidence will be accepted.

It is invaluable for injured claimants to have a team of experienced personal injury lawyers on their side to provide guidance and insight into what evidence can help to reduce the level of speculation involved in calculating future damages to maximise the compensation available to them.

Daniel is an Associate in our Brisbane office with degrees in Business and Laws from QUT.
Greg is widely regarded as one of Australia’s leading compensation law experts. Greg has a very healthy practice and enjoys providing his clients with superior personal service in every case. Greg is absolutely committed to achieving the best settlement outcomes for his clients while keeping the legal costs down.

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