Irritable Bowel Syndrome Compensation Claims

If you have been affected by IBS we can help.

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

In our guide to claiming irritable bowel syndrome compensation:


Around one in five adults in the UK develops the signs and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) at some stage in their life. Around twice as many women are affected as men.

Symptoms can range from mild and manageable to debilitating, and calculations for injury compensation will reflect the impact IBS has had on a specific individual's life.

The condition can develop as a 'secondary injury' following food poisoning on holiday, or as a side-effect of medication.

In some cases, proving that the syndrome was caused by the negligence of another party can be a challenge. A specialist solicitor will assist with gathering the necessary medical reports and other evidence to support your claim.

Doctor discharging patient

Diagnosing the condition

Irritable bowel syndrome is a common disorder of the gut. It is classified as a "functional" disorder. This means that the function of the gut is disrupted, even though all parts of the gut and bowel look normal.

The four key symptoms of IBS are:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea

IBS is a syndrome rather than a disease. As such, it may come and go at intervals, causing pain and discomfort over a long period.

The long-term prognosis, and associated treatment and care costs, of the condition should be accounted for when making a claim.

Common IBS injury claims

IBS may occur whenever there is a change in the activity of the gut. The precise cause is not known. However, one or more of the following factors may play a part:

  • Infection and bacteria in the gut. About one in six cases of IBS appear to follow a bout of food poisoning including campylobacter, e-coli, salmonella and cryptosporidium.
  • Stress and emotional upset, such as post-accident anxiety. The onset of symptoms coincides with a stressful life event in about half of all IBS cases.
  • Treatment for other conditions of the gut, including side-effects of prescription medication

When calculating damages for irritable bowel syndrome, the Courts do not take into account the nature of the incident that caused the changes to the gut. Compensation awards are calculated solely by reference to the severity of the illness and the impact it has on the claimant's life.

However, for the purposes of bringing a compensation claim, the cause of the accident does matter. The injury lawyer must prove that the defendant negligently caused the accident or food poisoning and that the IBS arose as a result.

Diagnosis and treatment

There is no single test for IBS. Diagnosis usually takes place at the hospital and involves a process of ruling out other potential gut conditions. Doctors might perform a variety of tests including colonoscopy, abdominal CT scans and blood tests.

IBS is a long-term condition. The syndrome may take years to resolve itself, or it may never resolve. Patients may gain relief by making changes to their diet and lifestyle, including eliminating stressors and food intolerances.

As an initial step, the injury lawyer will arrange for an independent gut specialist to perform a medical examination. The doctor will examine the claimant's medical records, assess their symptoms and give an estimate of the likely duration of the IBS. The medical report will form the basis of the irritable bowel syndrome compensation claim.

Do I have an irritable bowel syndrome claim?

It should be possible to make an irritable bowel syndrome claim if your injury occurred:

  • in the last three years, and;
  • someone else was to blame, and;
  • that person owed you a duty of care.
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Injury claim eligibility - Common questions

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 an irritable bowel syndrome claim on their own behalf.

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

What if the other party denies liability?

If the defendant denies liability, your solicitor will build the strongest possible case in order to prove that the defendant is responsible for your irritable bowel syndrome. Ultimately the solicitor will issue court proceedings on the defendant. Often this prompts an admission of liability before proceedings begin.

I developed IBS after medical treatment

Occasionally, IBS may arise as a result of negligent medical treatment. Clinical negligence claims often involve:

  • Negligent treatment during colonoscopy or ERCP procedures
  • Delay in diagnosing the condition
  • Side effects following the prescription of medication for other diseases
  • Surgical error.

Medical negligence is a complex area of personal injury law. For a claim to succeed, the injury lawyer must prove, on a balance of probabilities (more than a 50% likelihood), that

  • The doctor's actions or omissions were negligent, that is, no other doctor would have made the medical error; and
  • The negligence caused or materially contributed to the IBS.

The fate of a claim typically turns on the evidence of eminent clinicians who will review the doctor's professional conduct. The injury lawyer will gather evidence from the responsible health trust or GP practice to build the strongest case possible and pursue the maximum compensation settlement.

How much compensation can I claim for irritable bowel syndrome?

The amount of money you could claim for your irritable bowel syndrome 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 irritable bowel syndrome 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 an irritable bowel syndrome? (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

Irritable bowel syndrome compensation amounts

The following irritable bowel syndrome payouts refer to the Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases, Fifteenth Edition by the Judicial College.

These tables are used by solicitors or by the courts as a starting point when calculating your compensation.

Example Amount
Digestive system
Serious non-penetrating injury with ongoing sympto £13,380 to £22,130
Moderate non-traumatic injury £3,150 to £7,600
Severe damage with ongoing symptoms £34,280 to £49,350
Penetrating wounds, lacerations or serious pressure £5,280 to £10,040
Serious non-traumatic injury £7,600 to £15,200
Minor non-traumatic injury £730 to £3,150

What is the average injury compensation for an irritable bowel syndrome 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 irritable bowel syndrome will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.

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

See the injury table above for some examples.

Can I claim for an existing irritable bowel syndrome that has got worse?

Yes, it is possible to pursue a claim in the event that a pre-existing medical condition, illness or injury is made worse or aggravated by an accident or someone else's negligence.

Can I claim for physiotherapy and private care costs?

Private treatment can be expensive, but funding towards the cost of this treatment frequently comprises part of a compensation award. Your solicitor may even be able to arrange access to private medical care as soon as your claim is accepted.

Calculate my irritable bowel syndrome compensation

Calculating how much compensation you can claim for an irritable bowel syndrome 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 irritable bowel syndrome claim could be worth now:

Calculate compensation

How long does an IBS claim take?

How long it can take to secure compensation for IBS can vary considerably.

A straightforward liability accepted injury claim can settle in a few weeks. If liability is denied, however, a compensation claim can take significantly longer. Usually, an injury claim will take 4 to 9 months. For more information on how long your claim could take, see: How long will my claim take?

Caring and sensitive support

Your solicitor will handle your irritable bowel syndrome 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.

How did your injury occur?

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

No win, no fee - the facts

'No win, no fee' means that if your irritable bowel syndrome claim is unsuccessful, you won't have to pay your solicitor any money. Known as a 'Conditional Fee Agreement' or 'CFA', no win, no fee is a legal contract between you and a solicitor.

Our no win, no fee promise

If you have been injured and someone else was to blame (even partially), our no win, no fee guarantee takes the risk out of making an irritable bowel syndrome injury compensation claim. Read more about making a No win, no fee claim

What do I pay if I win my irritable bowel syndrome claim?

Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, once your claim is settled. 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 irritable bowel syndrome claim?

If your irritable bowel syndrome claim is not successful then you won't have to pay your solicitor any fees. Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.

Can I get Legal Aid?

Legal aid is no longer available when making a personal injury claim, but a Conditional Fee Agreement (No Win, No Fee) can reduce the financial risks of making a claim.

How can Quittance help?

Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, and the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning injury 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 376 1001 or arrange a callback:

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Irritable bowel syndrome 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 do I have to make an irritable bowel syndrome claim?

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

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

Can I claim for an irritable bowel syndrome after 3 years?

Possibly. The general rule for adults is that a claim must be started within three years.

However, the three-year countdown starts on the day you learned of your injury or illness. This will usually be the date of the accident, but could be the date your doctor gave you a diagnosis.

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

There other circumstances that can also impact the limitation date. Call us now on 0800 376 1001 to find out if you are still able to claim irritable bowel syndrome compensation.

In reality, there are a number of factors that can affect whether an irritable bowel syndrome claim will be taken on by a solicitor.

Calculate your claim limitation date

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.

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

Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor