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How to calculate your General Damages award in a personal injury claim in Queensland

The Injury Scale Value (ISV) for the Calculation of General Damages 

The ISV Scale forms part of the Civil Liability Act 2003 ("CLA") and its associated Regulations when dealing with motor accident claims and public liability claims, but when dealing with work injury claims it forms part of the Workers' Compensationi & Rehabilitation Act 2003 ("WCRA")and its associated Regulations

Provisions within these Acts regulate the award of certain "heads of damage" in personal injury claims in Queensland. In a personal injury claim, there are a number of what we term "heads of damage" which a person can claim compensation for which make up a claim. These comprise: 

  • General Damages - pain and suffering and loss of amenities of life, or loss of enjoyment of life, suffered as a consequence of accident injuries
  • Past and future medical expenses or out of pocket expenses relating to your injuries
  • Past and future loss of income resulting from your injuries
  • Past and future care and assistance required due to your injuries
  • Loss of superannuation benefits on past and future lost income
  • Interest on past medical expenses, past care, past pain and suffering or past income

When calculating the amount that should be compensated to an injured person in a personal injury claim, the Court awards an amount it feels appropriate for each of these heads of damage having regard to the injuries sustained and the impact same have had upon the claimant and their pre-injury lifestyle and employment as well as what their reasonable needs are given those injuries. These amounts are then added up to provide the total amount of compensation that should be awarded for the claim, or what we call the "Quantum" of the claim.

The ISV Scale is used to ascertain what award should be made for the General Damages element of the various heads of damage as set out above, when calculating compensation to be awarded to an injured claimant. If your claim is in relation to a motor vehicle accident or is a public liability claim (eg. slip and fall on a footpath or in a shopping centre), then your award for General Damages is governed by the Civil Liability Act 2003 and its Regulations. If your injury is as a result of a work accident or is an injury that has occurred in the course of your employment, then your award for General Damages is governed by the Workers' Compensation & Rehabiliation Act 2003 and its associated Regulations. However, the means of calculation of General Damages in both legislation is identical.

The idea of the ISV Scale is to rate the seriousness of the injury between 0 and 100, with the most minor injury (eg.a minor laceration to a finger), being at 1 on the scale and the more serious injuries (eg tetraplegia with extremely limited function) being at 100, and then according a monetary value to that rating.  How the ISV rating for an injury is calculated is set out below.

How is the injury scale value for my injury calculated ?

The Civil Liability Regulations 2002 at Schedule 4 and the Workers' Compensation & Rehabilitation Regulations 2003 at Schedule 9, each include a table which sets out a vast range of injuries that can be suffered by a claimant, with varying types of injuries to varying parts of the body. These table of injuries in each of these Acts are identical. To view the table of injuries at Schedule 4 of the Civil Liability Regulations 2002 or Schedule 9 of the Workers' Compensation & Rehabilitation Regulations 2003, simply click on the appropriate Schedule: Schedule 4 or Schedule 9.

In each of the tables of injuries at Schedule 4 and Schedule 9, every injury has an ISV range accorded to it. For example, a moderate whiplash injury which is Item 87 in each of the Schedules has an ISV range of 5 to 10. When you then look at the ISV Scale you will see that the range of general damages for such an injury occurring say on 5 June 2012, is $6,100(ISV 5) to $13,350 (ISV 10). The ISV Scale can be viewed by clicking on ISV Scale.

How the actual specific general damages award is calculated within that range depends on a number of factors. Each injury type also has a set of criteria accorded to it indicating at what level the injury should be assessed at within the allocated range, so the appropriate ISV rating for the injury can be ascertained.  However, there are other factors also taken into account such as the severity of the injury and how much it impacts on the individual in question. For instance an athlete who suffers a neck or back injury is likely to suffer greater impact on their pre-injury lifestyle because of the injury, than a person who is not interested in sport or physical activity. Also, the age of a person when injured is also taken into account. The younger a person is then the longer they will have to endure any ongoing problems caused by the injury.If deterioration of the injury is likely in the future or surgery will be necessary in the future, then this will also increase the ISV rating within the range.

Once the ISV rating is ascertained, then that ISV number accords to a monetary amount on the ISV Scale. For instance, for a moderate cervical spine injury as discussed above, you may feel your injury is at the higher end of the scale having regard to the extent of your injury and given the criteria stipulated in the CLA table of injuries, and therefore you have an ISV rating for your injury of 10.  This then correlates on the ISV Scale to a monetary amount of $12,950 to $14,850, depending on when your injury occurred. Using the previous example, if your injury occurred on 5 June 2012, then you would hopefully be awarded General Damages for your neck injury in the amount of $13,350 (being the top of the range for an ISV rating of 10 for an injury occurring at that time) when the Quantum of your claim is being calculated by a Court.

If you have sustained other injuries in the work accident or motor vehicle accident, or some other incident of injury, then those other injuries will also be taken into account when working out your ISV rating for all of your accident injuries. What a Court will do is it will ascertain which of your injuries is the dominant injury, meaning, which injury is the most severe of all your injuries. To do this, it will look at each injury and see what its rating is under the ISV scale and it will then take the one with the highest ISV rating as the dominant injury. Once the dominant injury ISV rating is calculated, the Court will then consider all of the other injuries sustained in the accident and it will increase the ISV rating for the dominant injury by a percentage to take the other injuries into account.

The percentage increase used is dependent on the extent of other injuries involved and the severity of same as well as how they impact on the claimant's pre-injury lifestyle and employment etc.  Similar considerations are taken into account as when you are calculating the ISV rating for the dominant injury.  So if the other injuries are only minor and have resolved since the accident, but may have caused some pain and discomfort for a period following the accident, then the increase percentage will only be small, say 10 to 25%. But if the other injuries will continue to be a problem for the claimant into the future and might require further treatment in the future, then the percentage will be higher, say 25 to 50%. The more injuries there are, the higher the percentage increase.

For example, if the dominant injury is a moderate whiplash injury as we have discussed above, at an ISV rating of 10, then if there are other lesser injuries involved, and those other injuries are likely to have ongoing problems for the claimant, requiring further treatment in the future and continuing to interfere with his enjoyment of life (eg. whiplash injury to his lower back), then the ISV rating of 10 might be increased by 50% to an ISV rating of 15.  This will then accord to a range for General Damages at $18,000 to $24,300 depending on when the injury occurred.  So if it occurred on 5 June 2012, the General Damages award for all of the injuries suffered in the accident, if assessed at an ISV rating of 15,  would be $21,850. 

The ISV rating must always be a whole number. So if, after increasing the ISV rating of your dominant injury by a percentage it does not come to a whole number, it is taken to the nearest whole number (eg. if calculates to 12.4, it is taken to the whole number 12, but if it calculates to 12.5 then it is taken up to 13).

The ISV Scale can be found in our News and Publications page or in our Personal Injury Legislation page on our website : ISV Scale

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