What Can You Claim For?
When people claim compensation it is usually because something has happened to them as a result of another’s ‘negligence.’ Negligence can be defined as either an action or a failure to act, which was below the normal standards expected of a ‘reasonable person.’
Compensation can be paid for many reasons. In order to claim, you will have to show that someone has either been negligent, or has breached a contract with you, has failed to do something required by law, or has been unreasonable to the extent that you have suffered a loss of enjoyment. Here are the main types of compensation payments:
Compensation for Personal InjurySometimes a person can injure themselves without there being anyone else to blame. In this case, there will not be anyone from whom to claim compensation. However if someone else was to blame for an accident, whether that accident was fully or partially their fault, they will be liable to pay the injured party compensation. Injuries don’t have to be physical or visible – in fact they can be purely psychological, although there will have to be evidence of this, for example from a psychologist’s or psychiatrist’s report.
If you were injured unlawfully (i.e. it was a criminal act as opposed to an accident) then you may be able to obtain money from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA.) Sometimes, it is possible to claim from the CICA even if the offender was not caught, or was acquitted at trial.
Compensation for personal injury is broadly divided into two types, ‘general’ and ‘special’ damages. General damages are awarded for loss that is non-quantifiable. This covers, for example, pain and suffering, and loss of chances of employment. Special damages on the other hand cover actual losses that are calculable, such as travel expenses, past and future loss of earnings and medical expenses. In some circumstances, personal injury compensation includes payments for a loss of past or future earnings.
Compensation for Breach of ContractIf you form a contractual relationship with someone, and they then break the contract, it may cause you to suffer some form of ‘loss.’ For example, if you are organising a concert for which you sell hundreds of tickets, and the sound system you have hired does not arrive, the hire company is in breach of contract. If there is no sound system and the musicians cannot play at the gig you may also have to refund some or all of the tickets, which means that you will suffer actual financial loss as a result.
Although it may sound obvious, in order for there to be a breach of contract there needs to be a contract in the first place. Using the previous example, if you told someone who owned a burger van that you were holding a concert, and that it would be a good place to sell burgers for the night, you would not be in breach of contract if the burger van showed up and did not sell any burgers. Nor would the burger van owner be in breach of contract if he or she did not attend to sell burgers at the concert. This is because, in the absence of ‘consideration,’ there is no legally binding contract.
Compensation for Loss of EnjoymentIt is also possible to claim compensation if someone’s action (or inaction) has caused disappointment or a loss of enjoyment. For example, if you buy a holiday that is not up to expectation or unlike the holiday described to you by your tour operator this could amount to a breach of contract and you could be entitled to compensation for the loss of enjoyment that you suffered as a result.
Similarly, someone else’s actions may cause you to lose enjoyment of your house. For example, your neighbour’s tree could be so large that your garden is perpetually in the shade, or if a nearby factory begins to operate overnight and the sound of the machinery keeps you awake at night. It is important in these types of cases to show that the person or company involved has acted unreasonably.