A Guide to Claiming Work-Related Upper Limb Disorder Compensation

This guide sets out everything you need to know about making an upper limb disorder compensation claim.


According to a recent report by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the number of new cases of upper limb disorders (ULD) between 2013 and 2014 was 87,000. These cases included a range of work-related musculoskeletal complaints in the neck, shoulder, hand, wrist, elbow and fingers.

Brought on by continually repetitive or strenuous activities, if a person is affected by a work-related upper limb disorder, an employer could be held liable if they failed to effectively manage and control the risks associated with the condition.

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Do I have a work-related upper limb disorder claim?

As a basic rule, you can make a work-related upper limb disorder claim if your injury happened:

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

It may be that, for example, the accident happened more than 3 years ago, or that you were partly at fault. If so, you may still be able to make a claim.

To get impartial advice on whether you have a claim, speak to a legally trained adviser on 0800 612 7456.

A short call will confirm whether you have a claim. You will be under no obligation to start a claim with Quittance.

Alternatively you can try our Online Claim Checker.

What if the injury was diagnosed years after the event?

Typically, the dates of the injury and accident are the same. However, some injuries manifest themselves months or even years after the accident or exposure.

In this case, the clock starts ticking on the date of discovery (the date of diagnosis) of the injury rather than the date of the accident.

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Which medical conditions are considered to be work-related upper limb disorders?

Upper limb disorders affect the muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves or other soft tissues in the upper limbs. They include repetitive strain injury (RSI), cumulative trauma disorder and occupational overuse syndrome.

Caused or made worse by work, some of the most common work related upper limb disorders seen in compensation claims include:

Diagnosing the condition

Common symptoms which form the basis of a diagnosis and a work-related illness claim are: tenderness; swelling; aches and pains; stiffness; weakness, numbness; tingling and cramp.

An upper limb disorder will be diagnosed as a work-related upper limb disorder if it can be shown that it was caused by a work related activity or process. Doctors have plenty of experience with ULDs and, as such, are often able to identify the cause by elimination and through asking questions about a person's work activities.

Common occupations associated with the condition include:

  • Construction worker (notably one who uses hand or power tools, particularly ones that vibrate)
  • Carpenter
  • Gardener
  • Key board operator
  • Assembly line worker
  • Kitchen staff (who prepare food)

If a work-related disease is diagnosed, treatment will be recommended. The person affected should escalate this to their employer so they can make changes to improve the working processes or conditions.

Is an employer liable for such compensation claims?

Yes - if it can be proved that the employer failed to adequately protect the individual from the condition which they have acquired. This could be RSI sustained by a data entry operator or vibrating arm syndrome suffered by a stump grinder worker. Employers are required by law to protect their workers from avoidable harm. Both the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, stipulate what an employer must do to manage and control the risks associated with work related upper limb disorders.

This includes carrying out a full risk assessment of the work environment, identifying dangers as well as those likely to be affected. The HSE recommend that the employer consider:

  • Whether an action will be repeated
  • If the working position is comfortable
  • Whether force or manual handling is required
  • If the task will continue for an extended period
  • The working environment
  • How the work is controlled

Other regulations exist relevant for specific tasks, such as the Display Screen Equipment Regulations 1992. Employers should also comply with the requirements of these.

When they do not follow the correct procedures, this is when they would be considered negligent and therefore liable.

How much compensation can I claim for a work-related upper limb disorder?

The amount of money you could claim for your work-related upper limb disorder 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 work-related upper limb disorder 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.

See a list of what you can claim for:

Examples of special damages include:

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

Find out what your claim could be worth now

Assessing a claim's value at the outset can be complicated.

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.

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Caring and sensitive support

Your solicitor will handle your work-related upper limb disorder case 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.

How does no win, no fee work?

No Win, No Fee is an agreement with your solicitor (known as a Conditional Fee Agreement or CFA) that means that you can make a work-related upper limb disorder claim with:

  • no upfront legal fees
  • no solicitor's fees payable if your claim is not successful
  • a success fee payable only if your claim is successful

No Win, No Fee is the most common way to make a compensation claim.

No win, no fee promise

Our no win, no fee guarantee means there is zero financial risk in making a work-related upper limb disorder claim, even if you don't win your claim.

What do I pay if I win my work-related upper limb disorder claim?

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

What do I pay if I do not win my work-related upper limb disorder claim?

If your work-related upper limb disorder claim is not successful then you do not have to pay any legal fees at all.

Read more about No win, no fee

How can Quittance help?

Our highly experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning industrial disease 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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Work-Related Upper Limb Disorder 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 interim compensation payment?

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

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.

Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

About the author

Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.

Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert