Orthopaedic injury claims
Updated: October 8, 2018
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.
Do I have an orthopaedic injury claim?
If you have been injured in the last three years (longer if children were involved) and someone else was to blame, then we can help you make a compensation claim.Back to top
What orthopaedic injuries are recognised by the Courts?
Any injury that affects the musculoskeletal system is classified as an orthopaedic injury. The category includes:
- Breaks and fractures
- Muscle, ligament and tendon injuries
- Serious nerve injuries
- Joint replacement, for example, a hip or knee replacement
- Spinal disorders.
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.Back to top
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:
- In a road traffic accident
- In an accident at work due to dangerous machinery
- In a slip, trip and fall accident
- As a result of a fall from height
- In a manual handling accident
- Playing sports such football or rugby
- As a result of medical negligence.
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.Back to top
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.Back to top
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.Back to top
How much compensation can I claim for an orthopaedic injury?
When negotiating a settlement for orthopaedic injury claims, most solicitors and insurance companies will refer to the Judicial College Guidelines. The guidelines recommend a maximum and minimum award for each type of orthopaedic injury by reference its severity, for example, whether surgery was needed to resolve the condition and the degree to which mobility is restricted.
Each case is different and turns on the appropriate medical evidence. As a guideline:
- A simple fracture of the arm that heals with no ongoing problems may receive a damages award of up to £4,200.
- Multiple broken arm bones that do not heal correctly and cause significant disability may receive between £25,000 and £84,000.
- A serious pelvic injury that requires surgery and leads to severe restrictions in movement and constant pain may attract a settlement between £28,000 and £94,000.
The above-mentioned awards are intended to compensate the Claimant for the pain and suffering their injury has caused, known as general damages. The compensation award may also take into account financial losses, such as treatment costs, incurred as a result of the accident, in the form of 'special damages'.
For more information on specific orthopaedic injury compensation awards, get a free compensation claim report.Back to top
Explaining No Win, No Fee arrangements
No Win, No Fee injury claims are started with the injured Claimant agreeing, with their lawyer, a Conditional Fee Agreement, or CFA,.
The document explains the work your lawyer will deliver, and crucially, the "success fee". This success fee is the fee that will be deducted from the damages once the claim is won.
With a Quittance solicitor, you can focus on your recovery, knowing that there is absolutely nothing to pay if the case is not successful.
Accidents at work - Claims against your employer
Every year, 600,000* employees are injured in accidents at work. If you have suffered an injury or illness at work, you may able to claim compensation.
Find out if you can claim orthopaedic injury compensation from your employer: Read more about work accident claims
*Source: 2016/17 Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report
Road traffic accident claims
Every year almost 200,000* people are injured on Britain's roads. If you have been injured in a road accident that was not your fault, you can claim compensation.
Find out more about claiming compensation for a road accident: Read more about road accident claims
*Source: Official Department of Transport statistics (gov.uk)
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The nationwide network of QLS solicitors handle all types of personal injury claims, from relatively minor claims to life-changing injuries. Selected because of their winning track record, QLS's solicitors have years of experience.
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About the author
Paul is a member of the Law Society Personal Injury Panel, a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, and has served as a Deputy District Judge, giving him a uniquely broad understanding of the claims process.
Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert
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