A Guide to Claiming Acupuncture Injury Compensation
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by an acupuncture injury we can help.
The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered an acupuncture injury and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.
Each year, around 2.3 million acupuncture treatments are carried out in the UK. Most of them are completed without incident. However, research suggests that up to 10% of patients will suffer an acupuncture-related adverse event, with injuries ranging from severe bruising to permanent tissue damage.
One of the major problems is that acupuncture is a self-regulating industry.
No training or qualifications are necessary for those offering acupuncture services and it is possible that some practitioners are not competent to carry out treatment.
Anyone who suffers an illness or injury after receiving substandard acupuncture treatment may be eligible to make a claim for compensation.
Do I have an acupuncture injury claim?
Medical negligence claims differ from personal injury claims as the following will need to be established:
- there was a breach of duty ("negligence" or "fault"); and
- the breach of duty was the cause of your injury, damage or loss ("causation" or "avoidable harm").
Breach of Duty
A breach of duty means that the standard of care you received was below the standard that could reasonably be expected of a competent healthcare professional.
To establish causation, it will need to be demonstrated that the injury you suffered resulted from the negligent care rather than the underlying condition.
Get an impartial opinion
To get impartial advice on whether you have a claim, speak to an acupuncture injury claim expert on 0800 612 7456.
A brief phone consultation will tell you exactly where you stand. There is no obligation to start a claim.
You can also find out if you have a claim with our Online Claim Checker.
Is compensation always payable?
If an error occurred during treatment and the patient was harmed as a result, this may be referred to as an "undesirable outcome".
Not all treatment that results in an undesirable outcome will result in the payment of compensation.
Sometimes an undesirable outcome is due to a known risk associated with the treatment, or due to a mistake that a doctor could reasonably have made in the circumstances.
How long do I have to start a claim?
If your injury is apparent immediately after medical treatment, you will have 3 years to start a claim.
It may be that the negligent procedure happened more than 3 years ago, but your injury was only diagnosed recently, within the last 3 years. If so, you may still be able to make a claim.
What if your injury was diagnosed months or years after treatment?
You may not be immediately aware of your injury. In some cases, months and even years can pass before symptoms appear.
The law allows you to make a medical negligence claim up to three years after the 'date of knowledge' (when you first learned of the injury).
It is recommended that you start a claim as soon as possible, as medical negligence cases can be complex. Starting your claim sooner will give your solicitor more time to gather medical evidence, assess the extent of your injury and to negotiate interim payments and your final compensation amount.
The amount of money you could claim for your acupuncture 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 acupuncture 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 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 are for financial losses and expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident.
What can I claim for after an acupuncture injury? (see list)
Examples of special damages (losses you can claim for) include:
- Lost earnings (including future earnings)
- Medical treatment costs
- Travel costs
- Costs of care
- Costs of adapting your home or car
What is the average injury compensation for an acupuncture 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 an acupuncture injury will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.
Your acupuncture 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.
Will a clinical negligence claim affect my benefits?
It may. The receipt of a compensation award could affect the calculation of any means-tested benefits. One approach to protecting your benefits, would be to set up a "Personal Injury Trust" or "PI Trust". Read more: Should I set up a personal injury trust?
Acupuncture injury compensation
Calculating how much compensation you can claim for an acupuncture injury can be complicated.
Our injury compensation calculator tells you if you may have a claim, how much compensation you could claim, and what you can claim for.
Find out what your acupuncture injury claim could be worth now:
How long does an acupuncture injury claim take?
The length of time needed to secure compensation for an acupuncture injury can vary considerably.
For instance, a simple uncontested medical negligence claim could be completed in 12 to 24 months. However, if liability is denied the process might take a number of years. On average a medical negligence claim takes between 12 and 36 months. For more information on how long your claim could take, see:How long will my claim take?
Will I still be able to claim for an acupuncture 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 acupuncture 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 is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a therapy derived from Chinese medicine. During treatment, fine needles are inserted at certain sites in a patient's body to stimulate nerve endings and encourage the release of pain-relieving endorphins.
While often seen as a form of alternative medicine, acupuncture is widely prescribed by the NHS as a treatment for chronic pain of the lower back. Thousands of private patients also turn to acupuncture each year to address ailments including headaches, toothache, allergic reactions, depression and infertility.
Side effects of acupuncture
When carried out by a skilled practitioner, acupuncture is usually very safe. Adverse side effects tend to be mild and short-lived. These include pain and bruising at the puncture site, drowsiness and feeling sick, dizzy or faint immediately after treatment.
However, serious adverse events can also occur, including:
- Loss of consciousness
- Abnormal bruising and bleeding
- Blood-borne infections
- Nerve damage
- Collapsed lungs caused by needles penetrating the patient's chest.
Serious complications from acupuncture are rare. They usually occur as the result of negligent treatment, carried out by an acupuncture practitioner who has not been properly trained or who does not ensure the proper cleanliness of premises, instruments and equipment.
Regulation of the acupuncture industry
There is no statutory regulation of non-medical acupuncture in the UK. In theory, anyone can offer acupuncture treatment regardless of their level of training or expertise.
However, most practitioners are required to register with their local authority and submit to regular hygiene inspections in order to reduce the risk of infection. There are also a number of acupuncture organisations in the UK which require their members to work according to certain codes of practice. These include The British Medical Acupuncture Society, the Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists, and the British Acupuncture Council.
Practitioners are also required to comply with various health and safety legislation regarding needle sterilisation, hand washing and the safe disposal of clinical waste to avoid needlestick injuries.
Making an acupuncture injury claim
A reasonable level of competence is expected from all those offering acupuncture treatments, regardless of whether they are medically qualified. Practitioners are expected to conduct a thorough medical examination to determine suitability for treatment, warn the patient of the risks involved with the procedure and maintain high standards of hygiene at all times.
Where a practitioner fails to meet these standards and causes harm to a patient, it will often be possible for the patient to claim compensation.
How did your injury occur?
The claims process that your solicitor follows will vary, depending on how the injury occurred:
No win, no fee
No win, no fee removes the risk from making an acupuncture injury claim. If you do not win any compensation, you won't have to pay your solicitor any legal fees.
No win, no fee guarantee
If you have been injured through no fault of your own, our no win, no fee guarantee takes the risk out of making an acupuncture injury compensation claim.
What do I pay if I win my acupuncture 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 acupuncture injury claim?
If your acupuncture injury claim is not successful then you do not have to pay any legal fees whatsoever. Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.
How can Quittance help?
Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning medical negligence claims.
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:
if you can claim
to start a claim
Acupuncture 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.
Will I have to go to court?
Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by the 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.
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.
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.
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