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Claims related to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) due to stress or contaminated food can cover medical expenses, pain suffering and loss of amenity and any loss of earnings or other costs.
If you have been affected by IBS, we can help. If your injuries were caused by someone else's actions or negligence, you may be entitled to claim compensation.
You can make a compensation claim with the help and support of a personal injury solicitor.
In this article
Around 1 in 5 adults have IBS, you are not alone
Around 1 in 5 adults in the UK are thought to have IBS (bupa.co.uk).
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.
If you decide to make an irritable bowel syndrome claim, your personal injury solicitor will take you through every step of the claims process. Your solicitor will be with you until you win your claim and get the compensation you need to move forward.
If you need information on IBS symptoms and treatment, visit: irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) (nhs.uk).
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
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.
Am I entitled to make an irritable bowel syndrome claim?
If you've been injured or diagnosed with an illness in the last three years and it wasn't your fault, you will be able to claim compensation.
Use our injury claim calculator to find out if you can claim. Or you can call 0800 376 1001 to speak to a specialist advisor. Find out in minutes if you have a claim.
What if I was partially at fault?
Personal injury claims where both the defendant and claimant share some responsibility are relatively common.
In our recent 2023 Personal Injury Claimant Survey, 13.99% of respondents thought they could be partially to blame for their accident.
Claiming compensation is still an option even if you were partly at fault. These contributory negligence cases are typically resolved with a split-liability agreement.
How long after an irritable bowel syndrome do I have to claim compensation?
An injury claim will usually need to be made within 3 years of the date or your accident or injury.
If your injury or illness is not immediately apparent, the 3-year time limit starts from the date that you injury or illness was diagnosed and your were informed of the likely caused.
For injured children, a claim can be started by a parent or guardian at any time before they turn 18. Thereafter, the injured individual has until their 21st birthday to make a claim on their own.
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 an irritable bowel syndrome?
The amount of money you could claim for your injury will depend on:
- the seriousness 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 injuries have affected your life. Your solicitor will take these considerations into account to calculate the correct compensation award.
Irritable bowel syndrome
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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.
If it can be proved that your injury left you unable to work, special damages can be awarded for any lost earnings, loss of commission or bonuses, and loss of pension contributions. It may also be possible to claim for loss of future earnings, if the medical prognosis establishes that you won't be able to work for any period in the future.
These damages will also cover the cost of any medical procedures you might need to treat or recover from your IBS such as dietary changes, probiotics, anti-diarrheal medication and antispasmodic medication.
Average irritable bowel syndrome general damages compensation
The following irritable bowel syndrome payouts refer to the Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases, Sixteenth Edition by the Judicial College.These tables are used by solicitors or by the courts as a starting point when calculating your compensation.
Please note: these average figures represent general damages only, and do not include any element of special damages (e.g. lost wages).
|Digestive system||Moderate||Serious non-penetrating injury with ongoing symptoms||£15,260 to £25,240|
|Digestive system||Moderate||Moderate non-traumatic injury||£3,590 to £8,670|
|Digestive system||Severe||Severe damage with ongoing symptoms||£39,100 to £56,270|
|Digestive system||Serious||Penetrating wounds, lacerations or serious pressure||£6,010 to £11,450|
|Digestive system||Serious||Serious non-traumatic injury||£8,670 to £17,450|
|Digestive system||Minor||Minor non-traumatic injury||£830 to £3,590|
Claiming compensation depends on the circumstances of your irritable bowel syndrome injury. Click the icons below for read more:
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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.