A Guide to Claiming Orthopaedic Injury Compensation

If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by an orthopaedic injury we can help.

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


Orthopaedics is a branch of medicine that deals with injuries and conditions of the bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons and spinal column. Worldwide, around 25% of healthcare expenditure is allocated to major orthopaedic trauma, such as fractures and dislocations. In the U.K., hip fractures alone account for 70,000 hospital admissions each year.

The Courts recognise that orthopaedic injuries can cause significant lasting pain and disruption. Depending on the nature and severity of the injury, orthopaedic injury compensation awards can be relatively high.

Knee cartilage physio

Do I have an orthopaedic injury claim?

As a basic rule, you will be eligible to make an orthopaedic injury claim if your injury occurred:

  • in the last three years and,
  • someone else was at fault.

Even if these two points don't apply to you, a claim may still be possible.

It costs nothing to find out - speak to an orthopaedic injury claim expert on 0800 612 7456.

A short call will tell you exactly where you stand. You will never be pressured into making a claim.

Alternatively you can try our Online Claim Checker.

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 orthopaedic injury claim on their own behalf.

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

What if there is no evidence?

Evidence can take the form of eyewitness accounts, CCTV footage, photographs etc. It will be difficult to win an orthopaedic injury claim with no evidence at all. You may feel that there is no evidence but a solictor may well be able to assist in collating evidence that you, as a claimant, were unaware of.

Can I make an orthopaedic injury claim right up to the three-year limit?

Technically, yes. However, in practice, not always. Many solicitors will not take on an orthopaedic injury claim that only has a few months (sometimes even a year) left before the time limit expires. Our panel of solicitors will take a claim on as late as possible where it is felt that the claim could be successful.

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What orthopaedic injuries are recognised by the Courts?

Any injury that affects the musculoskeletal system is classified as an orthopaedic injury. The category includes:

Orthopaedic injuries can range from the minor to the very serious. Major tears and fractures may require hospital treatment, including surgery and physiotherapy. Such injuries can take a long time to heal and may cause permanent weakness and instability in the joint. It is not uncommon for secondary conditions, such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, to develop.

As an initial step, an injury lawyer will arrange a medical examination. The examination will investigate the extent of the orthopaedic injury and give an independent prognosis of the long-term outcome for the patient. The findings of the independent medical report will be used to support the orthopaedic injury compensation claim.

Identifying the cause of an injury

The cause of most fractures is severe trauma to a bone. Road traffic accidents and falls from height are the primary mechanism of injury resulting in orthopaedic hospital treatment. Trauma is also the primary cause of most muscle, ligament and tendon injuries.

Orthopaedic injuries may also be sustained:

  • Through overloading, where the body is caused to carry out hard physical tasks without using the proper lifting and carrying aids.
  • Through overuse, where carrying out the same activity on a continuous basis for long periods may cause soft tissue damage such as repetitive strain injury.

For the purposes of making a successful claim, the cause of the injury is significant. It must be shown that the accident was caused by another party's act or negligence, and that the accident in question was the cause of the orthopaedic injury.

Quittance's solicitors have a wealth of experience assisting people who have suffered orthopaedic injuries:

Orthopaedic surgery compensation claims

Orthopaedic surgery is a complex branch of medicine and mistakes, while regrettable, do happen. Orthopaedic surgeons are more than twice as likely to be sued than those in any other branch of the medical profession.

Common complications that may arise as a result of surgical negligence include:

  • Medical misdiagnosis
  • Problems with joint replacement surgery
  • Equipment malfunction
  • Misreading x-rays, resulting in the delay or lack of appropriate treatment
  • Negligent surgical practice leading to nerve or spinal damage
  • Post-operative infection.

Medical claims can be much more complex than other types of claim. In a road traffic incident, for example, it is usually straightforward to establish whether the defendant was at fault by referring to driving laws such as the Highway Code. To succeed in a medical negligence claim, the injury lawyer must prove, through the evidence of medical experts, that:

  • Serious mistakes were made in the clinical treatment that no competent doctor would have made; and
  • Those mistakes caused, or materially contributed to, the orthopaedic injury.

Read more about bringing a medical negligence claim.

Orthopaedic injury time limits

Anyone who has suffered an orthopaedic injury in the last three years as a result of an accident that was not their fault may be eligible to claim compensation.

For medical negligence claims, the time limit is three years from the date the claimant becomes aware of the negligence or error. It may be many months or years after the treatment that a link is made between the claimant's injuries and the medical error.

Identifying liability

For all types of accident, determining fault depends on the circumstances of the accident and the law that surrounds accidents of the type that the claimant has suffered. By gathering appropriate evidence, the injury lawyer will demonstrate that:

  • The defendant owed a duty of care
  • The defendant breached their duty of care
  • The breach caused or aggravated the orthopaedic injuries.

Even if it not clear who caused the accident, a claim may still be brought. The injury lawyer will be able to investigate the evidence relating to the accident to establish liability.

How much compensation can I claim for an orthopaedic injury?

The amount of money you could claim for your orthopaedic 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 orthopaedic 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

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 orthopaedic injury? (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

Orthopaedic Injury compensation amounts

The following orthopaedic injury payouts refer to the Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases, Fourteenth Edition by the Judicial College.

Injury Example Amount
Moderate Ankle injury Full recovery or with mild ongoing symptoms £10,960 to £21,200
Moderate Arm injury Serious injury with long-lasting effects £15,300 to £31,220
Moderate Back injury Full or nearly full recovery within 5 years £6,290 to £9,970
Moderate Foot injury Metatarsal fracture with permanent symptoms £10,960 to £19,920
Moderate Knee injury Mild long-term symptoms £11,820 to £20,880
Moderate Shoulder injury Fracture of clavicle £6,290 to £10,180
Show more results

How is compensation calculated if I have multiple orthopaedic injury injuries?

If you have sustained multiple injuries, the compensation amounts are not simply added together.

The upper bracket of the most serious injury may be considered as a starting point, with a reduced amount applied for the other less severe injuries.

For example:

General damages for a life-altering orthopaedic injury can be £55,000

For a less serious soft-tissue injury, in isolation, you would typically receive £2,500.

However, if you have a life-altering orthopaedic injury and a less serious soft-tissue injury, you would typically receive £55,000 + a reduced percentage of £2,500.

Special damages, such as loss of earnings are not usually increased if you have multiple injuries.

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

Your orthopaedic 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.

Find out what your orthopaedic injury claim could be worth now

Assessing a claim's value at the outset can be complicated, particularly if you have multiple injuries.

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.

Can I claim for an existing orthopaedic injury 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.

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How long do I have to make an orthopaedic injury claim?

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

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

Can I claim for an orthopaedic injury after 3 years?

For adults, the general rule is no, you cannot start a claim more than three years after an orthopaedic injury.

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

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

Will I still be able to claim for an orthopaedic 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 orthopaedic 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.

How did your injury occur?

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

At work

If you are thinking of making a work accident or injury claim, there are some key points to be aware of:

Work Accident Claims - What you need to know

In a road accident

If you are thinking of making a road accident claim, there are some key points to be aware of:

Road Accident Claims - What you need to know

In a public place (e.g. supermarket, pavement)

If you have been injured in a public place, there are some key points you need to be aware of:

Public Place Claims - What you need to know

Medical negligence

According to the latest figures published in 2019, there were over 17,000 clinical negligence claims in the year 2016-17. This increase is largely down to an overstretched NHS.

If you are thinking of making a medical negligence claim, there are some key points to be aware of:

Clinical Negligence Claims - What you need to know

Other claim types

Find details on another type of claim:

See list of other claims

No win, no fee - the facts

With a no win, no fee agreement, your solicitor agrees that you will have no legal fees to pay whatsoever if you do not winn your claim .

No win, no fee promise

Our no win, no fee guarantee means there is no financial risk in making an orthopaedic injury claim - even if you don't win your claim.

What do I pay if I win my orthopaedic 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%. Your solicitor will agree a success fee with you before you start your claim.

What do I pay if I do not win my orthopaedic injury claim?

If your orthopaedic injury claim is not successful then you will not have to pay any fees.

Read more about how no win, no fee works

Please note, under a No Win, No Fee Agreement (CFA), fees may apply if a claimant refuses to cooperate, or abandons their claim after the legal work has started, or if the claim is fraudulent.

How can Quittance help?

Our highly experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning injury 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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Orthopaedic 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.

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 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

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