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When you are injured, it is very important to feel that you are being properly compensated for the pain and suffering you have endured, as well as any changes to your recreational activities or quality of life. These losses are often what leads injured people to seek compensation.
Damages for pain and suffering are also called “general damages”. These are the damages an injured person receives for the injuries themselves, rather than any other losses resulting from those injuries, such as an inability to work or increased medical treatment expenses.
When considering general damages, the courts consider a number of factors including a person’s age, life expectancy, degree of insight, any pre-existing condition, pain caused by treatment of the injury and the loss of enjoyment of life. However, the courts are limited in the amounts they can award for general damages due to the legislation in effect in Queensland.
The amount of general damages people injured in motor vehicle accidents can claim in Queensland is determined by Schedule 4 of the Civil Liability Regulation 2014. In accordance with this legislation, injuries are placed into particular categories, or Injury Scale Values (“ISVs”), which determine the amount of compensation payable in relation to that injury.
When considering general damages, the courts look at what is the dominant injury suffered by a claimant. This is usually determined by the medico-legal evidence obtained in relation to the injuries, but the courts may also consider other factors. That injury is awarded an ISV between 0 and 100. An ISV of 0 would mean that the person had fully recovered from the injury and there was no permanent damage or lasting symptoms (and therefore no general damages payable). At the other end of the spectrum, an ISV of 100 would mean that the person had suffered a significant and permanent incapacity, such as a significant brain injury (where the person has insight into their condition) or a spinal cord injury. Most injuries, however, will fall into a lower category of ISV.
If a person has suffered multiple injuries, it is necessary to consider all the injuries and identify which of those injuries would correspond with the highest ISV. This would be considered the “dominant injury”. Where a person has suffered multiple injuries and the maximum allowable ISV for the category is inadequate to properly compensate the injured person, the court may allow an uplift above the maximum allowable ISV. This uplift is generally 25%, but can be as much as 50% in some circumstances.
The ISV given to the injury or injuries corresponds with a certain monetary value dictated by Schedule 7 of the Civil Liability Regulation 2014. At present (being an injury which occurred on or after 1 July 2023), the maximum award for general damages based on an ISV of 100 is $436,100.00.
For a less severe injury with an ISV of 10, the general damages for an injury which occurred after 1 July 2023 would be $19,300.00.
The amounts payable for general damages are updated annually in line with inflation.
If you are injured and are unsure how much you should be claiming for pain and suffering, please contact Littles Lawyers for a free initial consultation.