Injury awards are too low, research claims

UK courts are awarding lower damages than they should in personal injury
cases, according to government-backed research.

Judges consistently underestimate the impact of disability on post-injury
earnings potential, said the report funded by the Economic & Social
Research Council.

A move to a US-style system that takes account of labour market information
in setting damages would result in a 25 per cent jump in average payouts, the
report added.

Men in particular would benefit – their awards are far lower here than in
the US.

The researchers found problems with the way the courts do their
calculations. The person’s earnings at the time of the injury, less any
post-injury earnings potential, is multiplied by a figure representing the
number of years’ loss.

But they say the multiplier is not a precise or logical tool for calculating
damages. "In particular, [it] takes virtually no account of the factors
that influence the way an individual’s earnings change over time," the
researchers said.

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