A guide to back injury compensation claims
The following article looks at what you need to know about making a successful back injury compensation claim.
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 work days 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.
A claim should be possible if the back injury occurred:
- in the last three years (longer if children were involved) and
- another party was to blame and
- that party owed you a duty of care
It must also be shown that, on the balance of probabilities, the back injury resulted from the accident and that the defendant can be held legally accountable for the accident.
Even if you do qualify, however, some solicitors may not take on your claim for other reasons.
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.
The claimant will therefore need to undergo a medical examination to assess the extent of the injuries. The medical report will be forwarded to the solicitor to assist in the building of the case.
The solicitor will recommend a medical expert near the claimant in order to reduce any inconvenience.
I have a strong claim - why won't a solicitor take it on?
Where an injury has been sustained within the last 3 years as the result of an accident, you could be entitled to make a claim for compensation.
An injury lawyer must demonstrate that your injuries resulted from the accident and the defendant was responsible for the accident. It may not be clear who is to blame for the accident. If you are not certain who caused the accident you may still be able to make a claim.
In cases where both you and the defendant are partially at fault, reduced compensation will still be awarded relative to the apportionment of blame. Such cases are resolved with split liability agreements.
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 or illness's cause 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
Accidents at work - Claims against your employer
Every year, 600,000* employees are injured in accidents at work. If you have suffered an injury or illness at work, you may able to claim compensation.
Find out if you can claim back injury compensation from your employer: Read more about work accident claims
*Source: 2016/17 Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report
Road traffic accident claims
Every year almost 200,000* people are injured on Britain's roads. If you have been injured in a road accident that was not your fault, you can claim compensation.
Find out more about claiming back injury compensation for a road accident: Read more about road accident claims
*Source: Official Department of Transport statistics (gov.uk)
Awards for general damages are set by the Judicial College and published in their guidelines for personal injury awards. Compensation awards reflect the seriousness and type of injury, including long-term effects and, for a given injury, are laid out in the form of maximum and minimum awards.
Minor back injuries such as soft tissue sprains and strains can be awarded compensation from £1,705 to £6,380 if recovery occurred within 2 years and without surgery.This can be increased to £10,120 if the recovery occurred within 5 years.
Moderate back injuries including ligament or muscular disturbance leading to back ache can be awarded compensation between £10,120 and £22,440 - depending on the level of chronic pain. This can be increased to £31,350 if there is a degree of residual disability.
Severe Back injuries such as fractures leading to severe pain, restrictions to agility, arthritis or if the injury compromises the ability to work, can be awarded £31,350 to £56,375. This increases from £59,950 to £71,500 if there are other complications such as compromised or impaired bladder function and the possibility of future or ongoing surgical procedures.
Higher awards of between £73,700 and £130,130 can be made for more serious injuries that do not involve paralysis. Serious injuries including paralysis are considered separately
While the Judicial College guidelines are suggested amounts rather than legally binding their use is usually adopted in Court. Most insurance companies will, when calculating a settlement amount, also refer to the guidelines.
In situations where an existing medical condition or injury has been worsened by the illness or accident, compensation may also be claimed.
In addition to the general damages figure, you could claim compensation for costs you have incurred during treatment and ongoing care.
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.
Unless you are self-funding, claims solicitors now work on a No Win, No Fee basis.
No Win No Fee is an agreement (technically known as a 'Conditional Fee Agreement' or 'CFA') which is entered into between the injured person and the personal injury solicitor.
No Win No Fee means that if your shoulder injury claim is not successful then you would pay no legal fees at all.
If you do win your case, a success fee will be deducted from the compensation award and paid to the solicitor.
Our specialist panel of personal injury solicitors will answer any questions you have and will run through your options before you decide to make a claim.
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, Quitance'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.
Many personal injury claimants will receive compensation without ever needing to go to Court.
Meet the QLS team
The national network of QLS solicitors take on all types of personal injury claims, from fast track cases to life-changing injury. Selected on the basis of their track record in recovering compensation, our solicitors have years of experience.