A Guide to Claiming Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) Compensation

If you have been affected by a repetitive strain injury we can help.

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

What is Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)?

Typing keyboard

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 a type of "Work Related Upper Limb Disorder" - an umbrella terms that includes other inflammatory conditions such as:

RSI is classified as

RSA Type 1

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

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.

Medical assessment

I you choose to make a compensation claim, your injury lawyer will arrange an independent medical examination to assess the severity of your repetitive strain injury and recommend any further treatment. The medical report will detail the extent of your injury, the likely recovery time and any future impact the injury will have on your life.

The findings of the independent medical report will be used to support the repetitive strain injury compensation claim.

RSI statistics

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.

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.

Do I have a repetitive strain injury (RSI) claim?

It should be possible to make a repetitive strain injury (RSI) claim if:

  • you were diagnosed in the last three years and;
  • someone else, such as your employer, was to blame.

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

To get impartial advice on whether you have a claim, speak to injury claims expert on 0800 612 7456.

A brief phone consultation will tell you exactly where you stand. There is no obligation to start a claim.

You can also find out if you have a claim with our Online Claim Checker.

What if the injury was diagnosed years after the event?

Typically, the dates of the injury and accident are the same. However, some injuries manifest themselves months or even years after the accident or exposure.

In this case, the clock starts ticking on the date of discovery (the date of diagnosis) of the injury rather than the date of the accident.

Read more

What if the employer has gone bust?

Even if an employer or their insurer has gone out of business, a former worker may still be able to make a work-related accident claim.

Employers are legally required to carry Employer's Liability Insurance. This insurance ensures that protection is in place for employees affected by work-related accidents or industrial disease. The majority of successful claims are not paid out by the employer but by the employer's insurance company.

In extreme cases, where an employer and their insurer have both ceased trading, and no other responsible party can be traced, compensation may still be available through the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Read more: Can I claim compensation if my employer has gone bust?

Can I claim Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit?

Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) is a non-contributory, no-fault weekly benefit paid to workers and former workers who become disabled because of an accident at work or due to certain industrial diseases.

Anyone who has sustained a disability as a result of injuries or diseases arising from work may be eligible to claim Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.

Read more

Can I claim if the repetitive strain injury (rsi) made an existing injury or condition worse?

Yes, although demonstrating this can be more difficult than proving a straightforward repetitive strain injury (rsi) injury, so legal and medical advice should be sought as early as possible.

Check my claim

Is my employer liable?

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.

The employer does not have to eliminate all hazards in the workplace. However, the employer must take reasonable steps to keep the premises safe and protect people from injury.

Your solicitor will gather evidence in order to establish that:

  • the employer failed in their legal duty (negligent)
  • the negligent work practices caused 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 compensation can I claim for a repetitive strain injury (RSI)?

The amount of money you could claim for your repetitive strain injury (RSI) 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 repetitive strain injury (RSI) 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 a repetitive strain injury (RSI)? (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

repetitive strain injury (RSI) compensation amounts

The following repetitive strain injury (RSI) 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 Arm injury Serious injury with long-lasting effects £15,300 to £31,220
Moderate Elbow injury Some long-term problems £12,480 to £25,510
Moderate Food poisoning Significant discomfort £3,150 to £7,600
Moderate Shoulder injury Fracture of clavicle £6,290 to £10,180

What is the average injury compensation for a repetitive strain injury (RSI) claim?

The Judicial College injury tables give a approximate idea of the ranges awarded for different injuries.

However, the money you would receive following a repetitive strain injury (RSI) will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.

Your repetitive strain injury (RSI) 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 repetitive strain injury (RSI) 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 get an interim payment?

Interim payments are effectively an advance on a probable compensation award. An interim payment may be awarded if the claimant is in immediate financial hardship.

Calculate my claim

How long do I have to make a repetitive strain injury (RSI) claim?

In general, you have a time limit of up to 3 years from the date of the repetitive strain injury (RSI) to make an injury claim.

The last date you can make a claim is known as the claim limitation date - after which your repetitive strain injury (RSI) claim becomes 'statute barred'.

Can I claim for a repetitive strain injury (RSI) after 3 years?

The general rule is no, you cannot start a claim more than three years after a repetitive strain injury (RSI).

In reality, there are a number of factors that can affect whether a repetitive strain injury (RSI) claim will be taken on by a solicitor.

Will I still be able to claim for a repetitive strain injury (RSI) 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 repetitive strain injury (RSI) 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.

Will I get advice on treatment options?

As part of the repetitive strain injury (rsi) claims process, your solicitor can arrange a thorough and independent needs assessment. The assessment may offer advice on treatment, access to treatments and therapies not always available on the NHS and co-ordination with rehabilitation providers, occupational therapists, physiotherapists etc

No win, no fee - the facts

'No win, no fee' means that if you do not win your repetitive strain injury (RSI) claim, you won't have to pay your solicitor any money. Known as a 'Conditional Fee Agreement' or 'CFA', no win, no fee is a contract between you and the solicitor.

No win, no fee guarantee

If you have been injured through no fault of your own, our no win, no fee guarantee takes the risk out of making a repetitive strain injury (RSI) injury compensation claim.

What do I pay if I win my repetitive strain injury (RSI) 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%. You and your solicitor can agree the success fee before you start your claim.

What do I pay if I do not win my repetitive strain injury (RSI) claim?

If your repetitive strain injury (RSI) claim is not successful then you do not have to pay any legal 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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repetitive strain injury (RSI) 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