Repetitive strain injury (RSI) claims
Around one in fifty employees have reported experiencing Repetitive Strain Injury *RSI), a chronic musculoskeletal disorder that causes pain, cramping and numbness in the muscles and tendons of the upper body.
Most sufferers are office workers who spend long periods of time typing on computer keyboards.
However, RSI can affect anyone who performs repetitive movements. It is not confined to office work.
Left unattended, repetitive strain injury can become a serious condition that affects quality of life.
Anyone who has been diagnosed with RSI as a result of unhealthy work practices may be able to bring a claim for compensation against their employer.
What is Repetitive Strain Injury?
Repetitive strain injury or RSI is the term used to describe pain in the tendons, muscles or nerves brought on by repetitive movement. It occurs when someone performs the same activity for a continuous period, for example, using a computer or sitting at a supermarket checkout. It most commonly affects the hands, wrists, elbows, fingers and forearms.
RSI is classified as RSA Type 1 and RSA Type 2.
- RSA Type 1 identifies a type of RSI that is accompanied by a diagnosable medical condition such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Symptoms typically include swelling or inflammation of the tendons in the hands, elbows or wrists.
- RSA Type 2 is the name given to RSI when no other specific medical condition can be diagnosed. It is characterised by pain, numbness, tingling or cramping in the affected joints, but there are no visible symptoms.
As an initial step, an injury lawyer will arrange an independent medical examination to assess the repetitive strain injury and recommend any further treatment. The medical report will detail the extent of the condition, the patient's likely recovery time and any future impact the injury will have on the function of the upper body. The findings of the independent medical report will be used to support the repetitive strain injury compensation claim.
What are the causes of Repetitive Strain Injury?
Almost all cases of RSI care caused by overuse of the affected area. Examples include:
- A poorly organised workstation that puts pressure on joints
- A badly designed chair or desk that results in poor posture
- Repetitive actions carried out continuously over a long period such as data entry or gardening
- Working for long periods without a break.
For the purposes of bringing a successful claim, the cause of the repetitive strain injury is significant. It must be shown that the condition was caused by unsafe or unhealthy work practices, and that the employer failed to take the proper precautions to keep their employees safe from harm.
Who can make a claim?
Anyone who has suffered repetitive strain injury as a result of poor workplace practices in the last three years may be eligible to claim compensation.
Is the employer liable for Repetitive Strain Injury?
Employers are required by law to keep their employees safe from avoidable harm. As part of this obligation, they must make sure that the work environment conforms with certain health and safety requirements. For example, an employer must:
- Carry out a risk assessment to ensure that workstations pose a minimal risk of causing RSI
- Eliminate any risks that can be eliminated, such as altering the height of computer screens, desks and keyboards to prevent unnecessary strain being placed on the body
- Provide safety equipment where necessary, such as an ergonomic keyboard or seating
- Train staff on safe working practices.
To clarify, the employer does not have to eliminate all hazards in the workplace. However, they must take reasonable steps to keep the premises safe and protect people from injury. The Claimant's solicitor will gather evidence to prove that:
- the employer failed in their legal duty and thus was negligent
- the negligent work practices caused the repetitive strain injury.
Negligence is almost always established where the employer has breached a specific health and safety rule.
What if the injury has aggravated an existing condition
It may be possible to claim for existing injuries that have worsened as a result of the repetitive strain placed on the body due to unhealthy working practices. For example, a painter and decorator with a shoulder injury may make a claim if they are forced to paint ceilings for long periods without a proper extension brush, and their condition is made worse. Read more about making a claim for an existing condition.
How much can you claim for Repetitive Strain Injury?
The starting point for assessing damages for the pain and suffering an injury has caused is by reference to the Judicial College Guidelines. The guidelines set out financial brackets for the repetitive strain injury by reference its severity, for example, whether surgery was necessary to resolve the condition and the degree to which normal functioning is restricted.
Under the guidelines:
- Repetitive strain injury that resolves within a few months might receive a compensation award of £2,300
- Where pain is continuing, the Claimant may receive up to £10,500
- Where surgery is necessary and the RSI affect the Claimant's ability to work, the compensation award may reach £15,000.
When establishing the level of compensation award, the Courts will also take into account the Claimant's quality of life before and after the accident. For example, if the Claimant can no longer play the piano or enjoy a round of golf because of their repetitive strain injury, the Court would likely award a higher level of compensation than if the Claimant did not enjoy those hobbies. Read more about loss of amenity in an injury claim.
Due to the nature of RSI, there may be a real risk that the Claimant will find it harder to perform their job or obtain similar employment. Compensation may therefore be awarded for loss of earnings and future earnings, as well as medical expenses, travel expenses and personal care costs.
The Claimant's injury lawyer will assess all aspects of the repetitive strain injury claim to arrive at a compensation amount.
For a more accurate idea of how much compensation you might receive, see our Compensation Claims Calculator.
No Win, No Fee RSI claims
No Win, No Fee RSI injury claims properly begin with a Claimant agreeing, with a solicitor, a Conditional Fee Agreement, or CFA,.
The document explains the work the solicitor delivers, and importantly, a success fee to be taken from the award when the injury lawyer wins your claim.
By selecting a Quittance injury-specialist solicitor, you have complete peace of mind knowing that there is absolutely nothing to pay at the outset.
Accident at work case study
£12,750 awarded for work-related carpal tunnel syndrome View case study