Upper Body Injury Compensation Claims

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

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

In our guide to claiming upper body injury compensation:


Upper body injuries are categorised as those sustained above waist level; for example the head, back, arms, neck, shoulder, chest and abdomen.

The upper body comprises many joints, bones and muscle groups and contains many vulnerable vital organs. With so many parts, upper body injuries vary in severity, but even at relatively low levels of trauma quality of life may be adversely affected.

Shoulder injury

What are the main types of upper body injury?

Head, Eye and Brain

A slip, trip or fall, possibly caused by an uneven pavement, may cause a person to bang his head, as may falling from a height or being struck by a vehicle. Trauma to the head may cause only mild concussion, but can be very serious if the skull is fractured causing brain injury. Head, eye and brain injuries are often dangerous and complicated and may have serious long-term effects for patient and family.

Neck injuries

The most common injury to the neck is whiplash. A frequent result of vehicle collisions it may also be a consequence of slipping and falling backwards - perhaps on a wet floor. More critical injuries to the neck, such as fractures to the vertebrae, may occur from more serious falls, including falls from heights in the workplace.
At best, neck injuries can be debilitating but at worst can be life-changing, requiring long-term care.

Injuries to upper limbs

A common cause of upper limb injury is a simple trip or slip. Sprained or broken wrists and shoulder dislocations are often caused by a person putting out a hand to stop his fall.

Road traffic accidents involving pedestrians may be a cause of injury to the upper limbs. A study in the USA found that although lower body injuries predominate, 26% of people struck by a vehicle are likely to sustain injuries to the upper limbs.

Painful injuries to the hand and arm impact on almost every daily task - the reduced movement and dexterity often requiring lengthy physiotherapy. Being unable to drive or use machinery may result in financial hardship through being unfit for work.

Where insufficient safety measures exist in the workplace, accidents involving machinery may result in traumatic amputation of hands and fingers, leading to long-term disability.

Back injuries

Ranging from mild sprains to major spine injuries, damage to the back may occur as a result of falls from standing, falls from height, road traffic accidents and crushing incidents. Mobility may be affected in the short and long-term; surgery, physiotherapy and rehabilitation may be required.

Where there are spine and nerve damage there may be total loss of function and chronic disability.

Injuries to chest and abdomen

The main cause of injury to the chest and abdomen are road traffic accidents involving vehicles, or being crushed beneath a heavy object falling from a height.

Even airbags, although life-saving, may inflict injuries to the chest or ribs, and sometimes cause facial injuries such as burns when they inflate on impact with the head.

Fractures to the ribs and sternum may cause damage to respiratory organs; crushes to the abdomen affect the stomach, liver, kidneys and spleen.

Emergency surgery may be required and a lengthy recuperation period before a person is restored to health.

Do I have an upper body injury claim?

As a basic rule, you can make an upper body injury claim if you were injured:

  • in the last three years, and;
  • someone else was to blame, and;
  • that person owed you a duty of care.
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Claim eligibility - Common questions

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 upper body injury claim on their own behalf.

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

Do I need a diagnosis to make an upper body injury claim?

If you have been injured and are awaiting the results, you should still seek legal advice as soon as possible. The sooner you start an upper body injury claim after an accident, the more likely your claim is to succeed.

How much compensation can I claim for an upper body injury?

The amount of money you could claim for your upper body 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 upper body 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 upper body 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

How is compensation calculated if I have multiple 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 serious arm injury can be £45,000

For a more minor leg injury, in isolation, you would typically receive £7,500.

However, if you have a serious arm injury and a more minor leg injury, you would typically receive £45,000 + a reduced percentage of £7,500.

Special damages, such as loss of earnings are not usually increased if you have multiple injuries. Read more about multiple injury claims.

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

Your upper body injury compensation will be calculated based on the unique impact your injuries have had on your life and your ability to work, and on the actual financial losses you have incurred as a result of your injuries.

Can I see the complete judicial college tables?

The table above (excerpted from the Judicial College Tables) shows the most common upper body injury claims. To see the complete list see: Judicial College Injury Tables.

Calculate my upper body injury compensation

Calculating how much compensation you can claim for an upper body injury can be complicated.

Our injury compensation calculator tells you if you may have a claim, how much compensation you could claim, and what you can claim for.

Find out what your upper body injury claim could be worth now:

Calculate compensation

How long does an upper body injury claim take?

The length of time needed to secure compensation for an upper body injury can vary significantly.

For instance, a simple liability accepted injury claim could be settled in a matter of weeks. If the defendant denies liability, a claim can take substantially longer. Normally an injury claim takes 4 to 9 months. See: How long will my claim take?

Caring and sensitive support

Your solicitor will handle your upper body 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:

No win, no fee, no risk

With a no win, no fee agreement (referred to as a 'Conditional Fee Agreement' or 'CFA') you can make an upper body injury claim without having to pay upfront legal fees. If your upper body injury claim is unsuccessful you won't have to pay any money to your solicitor.

No win, no fee guarantee

Our no win, no fee guarantee means there is absolutely no financial risk in making an upper body injury claim, even if you don't win your claim. Read more about making a No win, no fee claim

What do I pay if I win my upper body injury claim?

Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, after your compensation is awarded. 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 upper body injury claim?

If your upper body injury claim is not successful then you do not have to pay any legal fees . Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.

Is there a catch?

The Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) sets out the terms between you and your solicitor., No Win No Fee is a regulated activity and as such there should be no nasty surprises in the agreement. Nevertheless, it is recommended that you read the agreement carefully and ask any questions if you are unsure.

How can Quittance help?

Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, and the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning injury claims.

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 376 1001 or arrange a callback:

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Upper body 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 do I have to make an upper body injury claim?

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

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

Can I claim for an upper body injury after 3 years?

Possibly. The general rule for adults is that a claim must be started within three years.

However, the three-year countdown starts on the day you learned of your injury or illness. This will usually be the date of the accident, but could be the date your doctor gave you a diagnosis.

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

There other circumstances that can also impact the limitation date. Call us now on 0800 376 1001 to find out if you are still able to claim upper body injury compensation.

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

Calculate your claim limitation date

Will I have to go to court?

Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by the 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

Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor