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Carmen Mazo, 43, broke her wrist outside The Westbourne in West London in 2009 and was awarded £150,000 by a judge. She is now claiming it has wrecked her career as a HR Executive and is seeking a further £4.2 million in damages caused by loss of earnings.
Whilst it might seem upon first reading that this claim is wholly disproportionate to the injury sustained and exaggerated, it highlights some important issues in relation to personal injury litigation.
How are damages calculated?
It does not always follow that the more serious an injury suffered, the more overall damages will be received. This is because an award of damages comprises many different elements.
The damages that are awarded for the injury itself, such as in this case, the broken wrist, are known as general damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity. They are fixed by reference to the Judicial College Guidelines, a type of “Judicial tariff” of injury type. A broken wrist will currently attract damages of between £7,800 and £45,500 depending on the degree of recovery. General damages can often be only a small element of the total damages claimed, which is the case here.
The rest of the claim for damages will be made up of losses flowing from the injury itself, including those predicted for the future. For example, private medical treatment, equipment, care, and importantly loss of earnings. These are known as special damages and in the high value claims they make up the vast bulk of the claim for damages.
Million pound claims for damages are often reported in the press, and typically occur where the victim has suffered brain damage. The reason the claim is so high is because that individual will need 24 hour care, possibly by more than one carer, for the rest of their life. Such care is costly.
Special damages can vary significantly depending upon the victim’s personal circumstances. A neurosurgeon who suffers damage to his hand and fingers and loss of function will be awarded more in loss of earnings than someone who suffers the same injury but works as a retail assistant. The neurosurgeon earns more per annum, but the injury may also mean the end of the surgeon’s career, which may not necessarily be the case for the retail assistant.
In this case, Ms Mazo claimed that her wrist injury and the consequences of that, caused her to give up her HR career, and she would now have to retrain. She argued that had she not broken her wrist, by now, some 7 years later, she would have been earning £700 per day. Ms Mazo claims that the injury destroyed her career. Her argument was rejected by the Trial Judge, who was not satisfied on the evidence that her injury justified her giving up her job. However Ms Mazo has been given permission to appeal and the loss of career point will now be considered by the Court of Appeal. The decision will be awaited with interest.
Should you or a family member wish to discuss a potential claim, please call our specialist injury claim solicitors for a free and confidential consultation.