How much compensation can you claim?
An accident victim can claim compensation for all sorts of injuries, physical as well as psychological. Plus compensation for any property damage, such as damage to the car or to clothes or whatever. All this is compensatable as well in principle.
Lawyers make a broad distinction between what they call special damages and general damages.
However, the only thing special about special damages is the fact that you can top them up with a calculator. Say for example you're in an accident and as a result you have to take a fortnight off work to recover and you therefore lose a fortnight's pay. In those circumstances you can claim that lost pay back from the insurance company, and it's easy enough to put a precise figure on that loss because it is whatever your pay would have been for that period. The same goes for replacing damaged clothing, repairing the car, and so on. Anything that can be precisely calculated comes under the lawyer's heading of special damages.
General damages is the compensation that you receive that cannot be specifically calculated, and in most cases this tends to boil down to compensation for your pain and suffering.
It is all very well saying that you were off work for 2 weeks and therefore you have lost 2 weeks' pay, but if that 2 weeks' pay was all you got as compensation, you would still not had been properly compensated. You also need compensating for the fact that you had had 2 weeks of absolute misery recovering from injuries that you did not deserve — pain and suffering, as the lawyers call it. And the amount varies according to how much pain and suffering there is and over how long a period.
One final point. If you have an accident you are suppose to mitigate your loss, as the law says. You can read about mitigation in the A-Z section of this Guide.
Basically, all it means is you can't just go on a spending spree happy in the knowledge that you can just pass the bill to the insurance company because it's all because of the accident. You can only claim for reasonable losses.