A Guide to Claiming Back Injury Compensation

If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a back injury we can help.

The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered a back injury and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.

Back injury statistics

Back injuries are the most common form of workplace injury, with an estimated 1.2 million people in Britain suffering from a work-related musculoskeletal disorder according to Health Response UK.

60% of work-related illnesses relate to back, neck or limb problems. Back problems are the most prevalent however and they account for nearly 120 million lost workdays every year.

The human back is an intricate structure consisting of muscle, bone, joints and nerves extending from the neck to the pelvis. An injury to this structure can cause severe pain and could cause temporary or permanent immobility. The most common types of back injury include sprains and strains, fractured vertebrae and herniated disks.

Some people who have suffered back injuries may experience a full recovery following a course of medicine and/or bed rest. However, even relatively minor injuries are still painful, distressing and likely to result in financial loss. More serious injuries could require surgery or physical therapy.

Back injuries often lead to ongoing chronic pain. Chronic pain is very common with an estimated 7.8 million sufferers in the UK.

Do I have a back injury claim?

You should be eligible to make a back injury claim if your injury happened:

  • in the last three years and;
  • someone else was to blame.

However, if these two points don't apply, a claim may still be possible.

To get a definitive answer, you can speak to a back injury claim expert on 0800 612 7456.

A short call will tell you exactly where you stand. We will not put you under any pressure to pursue a claim.

Alternatively you can try our Online Claim Checker.

What if a child was injured?

The 3 year rule does not apply to minors.

A claim can be pursued for anyone under the age of 18 by a parent, guardian or litigation friend. The injured child has up to the age of 21 to start a back injury claim on their own behalf.

Read more about claiming injury compensation on behalf of a child.

What if I can't prove who caused the back injury?

Your solicitor will work on your behalf to assess your back injury claim and gather evidence. They will identify the party responsible for your accident.

Can I claim if the back injury made an existing injury worse?

Yes, although demonstrating this can be more difficult, so legal and medical advice should be sought as early as possible.

Check my claim

Assessing the severity of a back injury

Back injuries range in type and severity. Solicitors are not qualified to assess the extent of the injury and will, therefore, refer the claimant to a medical professional for an expert opinion.

A medical examination will be arranged near you to assess the extent of your injuries. The medical report will be forwarded to the solicitor to assist in the building of the case.

How compensation can help you

One of compensation's central principles is that it should attempt to put people back in the situation they would have been in if the injury had not happened. Financial compensation can only ever go so far with respect to making restitution to a person.

It is recognised by the courts that the impact of a back injury can be life-changing. Personal injury compensation may be awarded:

  • for general damages to cover loss of amenity and for pain and suffering
  • to reimburse travel expenses and damage to personal property
  • for medical expenses such as physiotherapy and ongoing care
  • to cover existing are future loss of earnings

How much compensation can I claim for a back injury?

The amount of money you could claim for your back injury will depend on:

  • the extent of your injury, and
  • any financial losses or costs you have incurred.

At the start of your claim, your solicitor will consider the many ways your back injury has affected your life. Your solicitor will take all of these effects into account to calculate the correct compensation award for you.

This calculation will factor in 'general damages' and 'special damages'.

General damages

General damages are awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA).

Awards for general damages are set by the Judicial College and published in their guidelines for personal injury awards.

Special damages

Special damages are for financial losses and expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident.

What can I claim for after a back injury? (see list)

Examples of special damages (losses you can claim for) include:

  • Lost earnings (including future earnings)
  • Medical treatment costs
  • Physiotherapy
  • Travel costs
  • Costs of care
  • Costs of adapting your home or car

Back Injury compensation amounts

The following back injury payouts refer to the Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases, Fourteenth Edition by the Judicial College.

Injury Example Amount
Minor Back injury Full recovery within 3 months Up to £1,950
Moderate Back injury Full recovery within 2 years £1,950 to £6,290
Moderate Back injury Full or nearly full recovery within 5 years £6,290 to £9,970
Serious Back injury Less severe disability £22,130 to £30,910
Serious Back injury Ligament or disc damage with permanent symptoms £9,970 to £22,130
Severe Back injury Chronic permanent symptoms £30,910 to £55,590
Severe Back injury Serious injury with permanent symptoms £59,120 to £70,490
Very Severe Back injury Spinal cord damage £72,620 to £128,320
Minor Neck injury Full recovery within 3 months Up to £1,950
Minor Neck injury Full recovery within 1 year £1,950 to £3,470
Moderate Neck injury Injuries that worsen an existing condition £6,290 to £10,960
Moderate Neck injury Soft tissue injury £10,960 to £19,920
Moderate Neck injury Full recovery within 2 years £3,470 to £6,290
Serious Neck injury Fractures or dislocations or severe soft tissue damage £36,240 to £44,630
Serious Neck injury Fractures or dislocations with severe symptoms £19,920 to £30,690
Severe Neck injury Serious fractures or damage to discs £52,390 to £104,370
Severe Neck injury Causing paralysis Around £118,240
Paralysis of short duration Paralysis Up to £39,330
Paraplegia Paralysis £174,620 to £226,610
Tetraplegia (Quadriplegia) Paralysis £258,740 to £322,060
Minor Whiplash Full recovery within 3 months £300 to £1,950
Moderate Whiplash Full recovery within 1 year £1,950 to £3,470
Serious Whiplash Full recovery within 2 years £3,470 to £6,290
Show more results

How is compensation calculated if I have multiple back injury injuries?

If you have sustained multiple injuries, the compensation amounts are not simply added together.

The upper bracket of the most serious injury may be considered as a starting point, with a reduced amount applied for the other less severe injuries.

For example:

General damages for a serious back injury can be £30,000

For a more minor shoulder injury, in isolation, you would typically receive £5,200.

However, if you have a serious back injury and a more minor shoulder injury, you would typically receive £30,000 + a reduced percentage of £5,200.

Special damages, such as loss of earnings are not usually increased if you have multiple injuries.

What is the average injury compensation for a back injury claim?

The Judicial College injury tables give a approximate idea of the ranges awarded for different injuries.

However, the money you would receive following a back injury will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.

Your back injury compensation will be calculated based on the unique impact your injuries have had on your life, your ability to work, and the actual financial losses you have incurred as a result of your injuries.

See the injury table above for some examples.

Find out what your back injury claim could be worth now

Assessing a claim's value at the outset can be complicated, particularly if you have multiple injuries.

If you would like a FREE claim estimate with no obligation to start a claim, call 0800 612 7456.

Alternatively, our compensation calculator will give you an instant estimate of what your claim is worth.

Can I see the complete judicial college tables?

The table above (excerpted from the Judicial College Tables) shows the most common back injury claims. To see the complete list see: Judicial College Injury Tables.

Calculate my claim

How long do I have to make a back injury claim?

In general, you have a time limit of up to 3 years from the date of the back injury to make an injury claim.

The last date you can make a claim is known as the claim limitation date - after which your back injury claim becomes 'statute barred'.

Can I claim for a back injury after 3 years?

For adults, the general rule is no, you cannot start a claim more than three years after a back injury.

However, if you were injured as a child, you do have up until your 21st birthday to make a claim.

In reality, there are a number of factors that can affect whether a back injury claim will be taken on by a solicitor.

Will I still be able to claim for a back injury after the law changes in April 2020?

The law relating to personal injury claims is changing in April 2020.

You will no longer be able to claim no win, no fee compensation using a solicitor for lower value claims (under £5,000).

In addition, compensation for whiplash and other soft-tissue injuries will be reduced.

Caring and sensitive support

Your solicitor will handle your back injury claim from the initial consultation through to the financial settlement. In addition, your solicitor will work with other specialists to help you with:

  • Financial support: interim payments while you are unable to work.
  • Advice: on personal injury trusts, tax and welfare benefits.
  • Coordination: with rehabilitation providers and therapists.
  • Access: to treatment and therapies not always available on the NHS.

What are the chances of success?

It will need to be shown, that the accident or circumstances in question caused your injuries. It must then be demonstrated that this resulted from a breach of duty by the party you are holding responsible.

If the other side has admitted fault then you have a good chance of winning.

Otherwise, if liability is contested achieving a successful outcome may be difficult.

Irrespective of whether liability has been admitted, you are advised to do what you can to build a strong case. Your personal injury solicitor will recommend a course of action. You could:

  • report the incident to a relevant person or authority
  • get photographic evidence of the scene and check for any CCTV footage (e.g. with local businesses)
  • collect statements of any witnesses (and their names and addresses)

It is worth considering the above and doing everything you can to build a stronger case.

How we have helped others

Our personal injury experts have helped people receive compensation for back injuries sustained:

  • in road accidents where the vehicle is hit from behind and the person is thrown forwards then backwards. This is known as 'whiplash', named after the movement of the spine as it cracks like a whip. Back injuries sustained in these circumstances may be anywhere on your back, and can often lead to symptoms like pins and needles in your hands or other areas due to nerve injuries in your back.
  • through lifting and carrying heavy objects which can either immediately or over a period of time cause back problems. Employers should help by assessing risks at work and providing suitable training and supervision.
  • from a slip or trip caused by a wide variety of factors such as spillages, damaged flooring or pavement, or other hazards left on the floor, and all have one thing in common - the person slipping or tripping will at some point either hit the ground and this frequently causes a jarring injury to the back, or they manage to keep upright, but still have the jarring motion causing the back injury.
  • in a fall where even the smallest height can cause back injury. Although most common at places of work, Quittance's panel of solicitors have assisted with claims including horse riding injuries following improper supervision of riders.
  • when using a faulty product - typically chairs that are not fit for purpose and lead to prolonged back injuries.

Your solicitor will enable you to prioritise your treatment and recovery, offering clear advice throughout the claims process.

How did your injury occur?

The claims process that your solicitor follows will vary, depending on how the injury occurred:

At work

If you are thinking of making a work accident or injury claim, there are some key points to be aware of:

Work Accident Claims - What you need to know

In a road accident

If you are thinking of making a road accident claim, there are some key points to be aware of:

Road Accident Claims - What you need to know

In a public place (e.g. supermarket, pavement)

If you have been injured in a public place, there are some key points you need to be aware of:

Public Place Claims - What you need to know

Medical negligence

According to the latest figures published in 2019, there were over 17,000 clinical negligence claims in the year 2016-17. This increase is largely down to an overstretched NHS.

If you are thinking of making a medical negligence claim, there are some key points to be aware of:

Clinical Negligence Claims - What you need to know

Other claim types

Find details on another type of claim:

See list of other claims

No win, no fee

Under a no win, no fee agreement, your solicitor agrees that you will have no legal fees to pay if you do not winn your claim .

No win, no fee promise

Our no win, no fee guarantee means there is absolutely no financial risk in making a back injury claim, even if you don't win your claim.

What do I pay if I win my back injury claim?

Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, only after your compensation is awarded. The solicitor's success fee can be up to 25%. You and your solicitor can agree the success fee before you start your claim.

What do I pay if I do not win my back injury claim?

If your back injury claim is not successful then you do not have to pay any legal fees whatsoever.

Read more about how no win, no fee works

Please note, under a No Win, No Fee Agreement (CFA), fees may apply if a claimant refuses to cooperate, or abandons their claim after the legal work has started, or if the claim is fraudulent.

How can Quittance help?

Our highly experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning injury claims. Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you.

If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open 8am to 9pm weekdays, 9am to 6pm on Saturday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.

Call us FREE 0800 612 7456 or arrange a callback:

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Back Injury FAQ's

Can I claim for someone else?

Yes. In certain circumstances, it is possible to claim compensation on behalf of another person in the capacity of a 'litigation friend'.

If an injured person is either too young or vulnerable, too injured or otherwise unable to claim on their own behalf, their litigation friend can handle the claim process on behalf of the injured person.

The litigation friend will be responsible for communicating with the solicitors, and for making decisions in respect of the claim.

Read more about claiming on behalf of another person.

Can I claim if I was partly responsible for an accident?

You may still be able to claim compensation even if you contributed to your accident or to your injuries.

However, if you were partly to blame (known as contributory negligence), your compensation may be reduced and it may be more difficult to prove liability.

Read more about claiming compensation if you were partly responsible for an accident.

How long will my claim take?

The length of time needed to secure compensation can vary considerably.

For example, straightforward car accident claims can settle in a matter of weeks, whereas complex medical negligence cases can take years.

Injury claims can also take longer if it is not clear who is responsible for your injury, or if liability is denied by the defendant.

Taken from average case times, this table sets out approximately how long personal injury claims take to settle:

Personal injury claim type

Estimated claim duration*

Road accident claims

4 to 9 months

Work accident claims

6 to 9 months

Medical negligence claims

12 to 36 months

Industrial disease claims

12 to 18 months

Public place or occupiers’ liability claims

6 to 9 months

MIB claims (uninsured drivers)

3 to 4 months**

CICA claims (criminal assault)

12 to 18 months**

*RTA and other claims processed through the Ministry of Justice portal can settle faster.
**Official Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) Government agency and Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) figures.

Read more about how long personal injury claims take.

Will I have to go to court?

Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by Quittance’s solicitor panel are settled out of court.

Only a very small percentage (approx. 5%) of personal injury claims go to court. Generally, only very complex cases, or those where liability cannot be resolved, end up in court.

Cases that do ultimately go to court are held in front of a judge, not a jury.

Read more: Will my injury claim go to court and what if it does?

Will I have to go to a solicitor's office?

No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. As with most professional services, it is no longer necessary to meet face to face with your solicitor. Personal injury claims are dealt with via email, post and telephone.

Should you need to have a medical, this will be arranged at a medical centre near you or at your GP's surgery.

Read more: Will I have to visit a solicitor's office?

Can I get an early compensation payment?

If you suffer financial hardship as a result of an injury, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.

An interim payment is a partial settlement of your claim which is paid before your claim is concluded. The amount you receive in interim payments would then be deducted from your final compensation settlement or award.

Read more about interim compensation payments.

Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor

About the author

Howard qualified as a solicitor in 1984 and has specialised in personal injury for over 25 years. He is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and is a recognised Law Society Personal Injury Panel expert.

Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert