What Does Loss of Amenity Mean?
When you are making an injury compensation claim in Ireland, your compensation settlement is normally made up of four elements – general damages for the physical injury you have sustained, compensation for any measureable psychological trauma you have experienced, the recovery of any financial expenses you have incurred which are directly linked to your injury and compensation for your loss of amenity.
The term “loss of amenity” refers to how the injuries you have suffered in an accident for which you were not at fault have affected you and prevented you from enjoying the same standard of life as you had before your accident and injury. Compensation for the loss of amenity takes into account the non-financial limitations that have been enforced on your domestic and social lifestyle through no fault of your own.
What are Examples of Loss of Amenity?
There are many examples of how an injury can cause a loss of amenity and diminish a person’s quality of life – and in a completely different way from somebody who has suffered the exact same injury. Take, for example, two young men who both break their index finger in work injury. One plays the piano in his spare time, whereas the other prefers to go to the cinema when he finishes work.
Although both men would receive similar injury compensation settlements for the nature and severity of their injury, the piano player has experienced a considerable deterioration in his quality of life – which although not permanent, is no fault of his own – and he should be eligible for a higher amount of compensation for loss of amenity than the man who might find it slightly more difficult to take money from his pocket for the cashier in the cinema.
Other examples where a compensation claim for a loss of amenity might be applicable include:-
- A factory engineer who sustains a loss of hearing from being provided with inadequate protective equipment and who is no longer able to converse with his wife or children
- A child who damages the tendons in his hand in a football accident at school and is unable to use a computer or mobile device to communicate with peers via social media
- A recreational sportsman or woman who has injured their back in a slip and fall accident in a shop or supermarket and can no longer play football, snooker or golf
- A mother who sustains a whiplash injury in a rear-end accident and is unable to attend her children´s extra-curricular school activities such as nativity plays and sports days
How is Loss of Amenity Calculated?
Whereas the severity of your physical and psychological injuries will be assessed by medical professionals, and any expenses you have incurred can be proven by receipts and invoices, compensation for your loss of amenity – or the impact an injury has had on your quality of life – is a personal issue which it is often difficult to place a definite financial value on.
Loss of amenity compensation is not an item that you will find on a personal injury claims calculator and any claim for loss of amenity may have to be substantiated by testimonies from family, friends, work colleagues or teachers. Sometimes photo or video evidence can provide adequate justification to support a claim for loss of amenity, which will then be assessed against previous awards of compensation.
The Injuries Board and Loss of Amenity
Whether you are making an application to the Injuries Board for an assessment of compensation online or on the hard copy version of the application Form A, there is little opportunity to properly explain how your injury has negatively affected your quality of life and, without professional guidance, what financial value you wish to claim for your loss of amenity.
The Injuries Board will only assess your claim for injury compensation based on the details you provide to them and, if you are unable to effectively communicate the loss of amenity you have suffered, this potentially significant element of your injury compensation claim could be left out altogether. Therefore, if you believe that you have suffered a loss of amenity due to an injury for which you were not to blame, you should contact a solicitor at the first possible opportunity.
Offers from Insurance Companies and Loss of Amenity
It is becoming a regular occurrence that insurance companies approach potential claimants directly with an unsolicited offer of compensation soon after their policyholder has been at fault for causing an accident in which the potential claimant has sustained a personal injury. These offers of compensation are often quickly compiled with little consideration for the financial implications the victim may suffer and normally none at all for their loss of amenity.
If you have suffered an injury and are approached by an insurance company, it is always in your best interests to talk to an experienced solicitor before accepting the offer. Even if you are in dire financial straits, your solicitor should be able to apply for interim payments of compensation until such time as a full and appropriate settlement of your claim – including compensation for your loss of amenity – is negotiated.
Guidance for Maximising Your Loss of Amenity Compensation
The key to getting the most value for loss of amenity compensation is to keep a journal. In the journal you should record every time your injury prevents you from participating in leisure or sports pastimes which would have formed part of your regular routine prior to your injury. You should also make note of any significant event – such as a wedding or holiday – you are unable to attend because of your injury. As much as any costs you have incurred can be recuperated through a personal injury claim, the disappointment of missing such a significant event will also be allocated a financial value.
Thereafter, you should talk about the effect an injury has had on your quality of life with an experienced personal injury solicitor. The solicitor will be able to inform you about which areas of your life you will be able to include in a claim for loss of amenity and how much compensation for your loss of amenity you will be eligible to receive. There may also be cases where a persistent decrease in your quality of life can result in compensation for future loss of amenity – an element of your compensation claim which would again be best talked about with an experienced personal injury solicitor.