Valuing whiplash and a non-tariff injury

Claimant with a whiplash injury and another non-tariff injury?

How should you value the claim?

Since tariffs were introduced for whiplash injuries this has been a recurring question.

And we got an answer from DJ Hennessey sitting at Birkenhead CC on 8 June 2022, in the case of Rabot V Hassam.

It’s a first instance decision but nonetheless worth noting. The reasoning is logical and sensible.

The case involved a Claimant injured in an RTA on 16 July 2021, who sustained the following injuries:

  1. a whiplash injury, that satisfied the definition given within the Civil Liability Act 2018, with a prognosis of 8-10 months;
  2. travel anxiety with a prognosis of 3 months; and
  3. a soft tissue injury to both knees with a prognosis of 4-5 months.

 

The Claimant, who was legally represented from the outset, started his claim via the OIC Portal and the Defendant, also legally represented, admitted liability in full. The parties were unable to agree quantum of the PSLA and the matter was litigated.

The parties agreed that the whiplash and travel anxiety injuries were a tariff injury and agreed the valuation of £1,390.

However, they could not agree on the valuation of the soft tissue injury to the knees and more importantly, they could not agree how to quantify a claim that included both a non-tariff injury and a tariff injury

The Claimant argued that the Court should add the values for the tariff injury and the non-tariff injury and then make a deduction for overlap. The Claimant’s valuation was £4,250, made up of £3,000 for the non-tariff knee injuries and £1,390 for the tariff injuries, with a small deduction for overlap.

The Defence argued that the whiplash element should be considered the primary injury and an extra amount should be added to compensate for the additional suffering caused by the knee injuries. The prognosis for the knee injuries was shorter than that of the whiplash and the Claimant reported that the whiplash was more painful. The Defence therefore submitted that the Claimant should be awarded £1,390 for the tariff element of the injury and an additional £465.50 to compensate the Claimant for additional PSLA in relation to the non-tariff element.

Valuing whiplash and a non-tariff injury – The Outcome

DJ Hennessey concluded that it should not matter which element of the injury claim is valued first, and the order should not affect the final award. Injuries should be quantified separately, added together and then a deduction applied (after stepping back) for the overlap of PSLA. This is the approach laid down in Sadler V Filipak [2011]. Just because one part of the injury falls under a “tariff” does not change the methodology of quantifying PSLA where there are multiple injuries.

The final award was £3,100, made up of £2,500 for the non-tariff knee injuries and £1,890 for the tariff award, with a deduction for overlap.

For further information, please see our General Damages suite of courses.