What is Loss of Amenity?
When you are making an injury compensation claim in Ireland, your compensation settlement is usually comprised of four elements – general damages for the physical injury you have suffered, compensation for any quantifiable psychological trauma you have experienced, the recovery of any financial costs you have incurred which are directly related to your injury and compensation for your loss of amenity.
The term “loss of amenity” refers to how the injuries you have sustained in an accident for which you were not to blame have affected you and prevented you from enjoying the same quality of life as you had prior to your accident and injury. Compensation for the loss of amenity reflects the non-financial limitations that have been enforced on your domestic and social lifestyle through no fault of your own.
Examples of Loss of Amenity
There are many, many examples of how an injury can cause a loss of amenity and affect a person´s quality of life – and in a different way from somebody who has sustained the exact same injury. Take, for example, two young men who both break their index finger in an accident at work. One plays the guitar in his spare time, whereas the other prefers to watch TV when he gets home from work.
Although both men would receive similar injury compensation settlements for the nature and severity of their injury, the guitar 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 operate the remote control for his television.
Other examples where a compensation claim for a loss of amenity might be appropriate include:-
- A telephone 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 an 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 golf, tennis or cricket
- A mother who sustains a whiplash injury in a rear-end accident and is unable to attend her children´s non-academic 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 negative impact an injury has had on your quality of life – is a personal issue which it is often difficult to place a financial value on.
Loss of amenity compensation is not an item that you will not find on an 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 proof can provide adequate justification to support a claim for loss of amenity, which will then be assessed against previous awards of compensation.
Loss of Amenity and the Injuries Board
Whether you are making an application to the Injuries Board for an assessment of compensation via the Internet or on the paper application Form A, there is little opportunity to adequately 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 on the information you provide to them and, if you are unable to effectively communicate the loss of amenity you have experienced, this potentially significant element of your injury compensation claim could be omitted altogether. Therefore, if you believe that you have experienced a loss of amenity due to an injury for which you were not to blame, you should speak with a solicitor at the first possible opportunity.
Loss of Amenity and Offers from Insurance Companies
It is becoming a frequent occurrence that insurance companies approach potential claimants directly with an offer of compensation soon after their policyholder has been responsible for causing an accident in which the potential claimant has sustained a personal injury. These offers of compensation are often hastily compiled with little consideration for the financial implications the victim may suffer and usually 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 speak with a solicitor before accepting the settlement. Even if you are in dire financial circumstances, 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.
Advice for Maximising Your Loss of Amenity Compensation
The key to maximising the value of loss of amenity compensation is to maintain a diary. In the diary you should record every time your injury prevents you from participating in a leisure or sports pastime which would have formed part of your regular routine prior to your injury. You should also make note of any significant occasion – such as a wedding or holiday – you are unable to attend because of your injury. Inasmuch as any costs you have incurred can be recovered through a personal injury claim, the disappointment of missing such a significant occasion will also be allocated a financial value.
Thereafter, you should discuss the effect an injury has had on your quality of life with an experienced personal injury solicitor. The solicitor will be able to advise you 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 scenarios where an ongoing deterioration 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 discussed with an experienced personal injury solicitor.