In cases of serious or catastrophic injury, the largest and most important elements of the damages claim are those for future accommodation and future care. The new edition of Personal Injury Schedules: Calculating Damages ensures that practitioners are aware of all of the latest developments in these areas, so that they do not miss any key components and can maximise the value of the claims.
The headline news in relation to accommodation remains the effect of the change to the discount rate on 20 March 2017 from a positive rate of 2.5% to a negative rate of -0.75%. The change meant that the Roberts v Johnstone method of calculating future accommodation claims was no longer fit for purpose, as it would result in no award being made to injured people who needed to move house by reason of their injuries, for the purposes of buying a suitable property. Claimants are of course generally not in a position to fund a purchase of a property themselves and should not be put in a position where they have to use substantial amounts of funds awarded to meet other expenses in order to buy a suitable property. The book suggests a number of alternative bases on which a future accommodation claim might be put forward while the discount rate remains negative, until this issue can be resolved by the courts. This is still a pressing issue following the latest change to the discount rate announced on 15 July 2019, as, perhaps contrary to expectations, the new discount rate remains negative, at -0.25%.
The book also contains a number of pointers on elements of the accommodation claim which can add substantial value to a claim but are often missed. These include the costs of renting accommodation while waiting to purchase and adapt a suitable long-term property and the costs of carrying out adaptations to the properties of family and friends.
All of the latest case law is considered in relation to care claims, including in relation to questions of reasonableness and proportionality of proposed care regimes, an area in which defendants have in recent years made substantial further attacks. Other hot issues include rates of pay, notional weeks per year, double up weeks, team leader enhancements and the need for additional cleaning. Practitioners using the book can be confident that they have considered all of the key issues and are prepared for any arguments that are likely to be raised in relation to the claim.
One of the most useful features of the book is perhaps the substantial set of precedents it contains. There are detailed examples of schedules for different types of cases including catastrophic injury claims, fast track claims and fatal accident claims, and different ways of setting out claims for accommodation in light of a negative discount rate. These precedents will be an invaluable reference point for any practitioner drafting personal injury schedules.
Catriona Stirling is one of the authors of Personal Injury Schedules: Calculating Damages.