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.
If your injuries were caused by someone else's actions or negligence, you may be entitled to claim compensation.
Claiming injury compensation with a solicitor
You can make a compensation claim with the help and support of a personal injury solicitor.
Your solicitor will ask you about what happened, and they will collect evidence to prove what caused your injuries. Your solicitor will also work out how much money you can claim, based on your injuries, lost earnings and other expenses.
We can help you make a personal injury compensation claim on a No Win No Fee basis.
In this article
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.
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.
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.
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 injury claim?
As a basic rule, you can make an injury claim if you were injured:
- in the last 3 years, and;
- someone else was to blame, and;
- that person owed you a duty of care.
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 injury claim on their own behalf.
What if I don't know who was to blame?
You should contact a solicitor as soon as possible to discuss your options. Specialist lawyers have years of experience identifying the responsible party in cases where liability is uncertain.
The amount of money you could claim for your injury will depend on:
- the seriousness 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 injuries have affected your life. Your solicitor will take these considerations into account to calculate the correct compensation award.
This calculation will factor in 'general damages' and 'special 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 are for financial losses and expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident.
What can I claim for after an injury? (see list)
Examples of special damages (losses you can claim for) include:
- Lost earnings (including future earnings)
- Medical treatment costs
- 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.
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 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 injury will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.
Your 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 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 injury compensation
Calculating how much compensation you can claim for an 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 injury claim could be worth now:
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?
How else can a solicitor help me?
Your solicitor will handle your injury claim from the initial FREE case evaluation, through to the financial settlement.
Your solicitor will work with other specialists to provide caring and sensitive support and 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 have to go to court?
Highly unlikely. Solicitors settle the vast majority of claims out of court.
Less than 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 decided by a judge or magistrate, not a jury.
Even if the claim does go to court, it is very unlikely you will have to attend.
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 injury claim without having to pay upfront legal fees. If your 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 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 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 injury claim?
If your 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.
Can I get Legal Aid?
Legal aid is no longer available when making a personal injury claim, but a Conditional Fee Agreement (No Win, No Fee) can reduce the financial risks of making a claim.
How we can help you
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
- 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday
Call us for FREE advice on 0800 376 1001, or arrange a call back from a friendly, legally-trained advisor:
- Find out
if you can claim
- No obligation
to start a claim
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.
Can I claim if I feel I was partly responsible for my accident?
Yes. You may still be able to claim compensation even if your actions may have contributed to the accident.
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.
How long do I have to make an injury claim?
In general, you have a time limit of up to 3 years from the date of the injury to make an injury claim.
The last date you can make a claim is known as the claim limitation date - after which your injury claim becomes 'statute barred'.
Can I claim for an 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 injury compensation.
In reality, there are a number of factors that can affect whether an injury claim will be taken on by a solicitor.
Will I have to visit a solicitor's office to start a claim?
No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. Personal injury claims are handled by email, post and phone.
Should you need to have a medical, this will be arranged at a medical centre near you or at your GP's surgery.
I need the money now - what are my options?
If you are unable to work and have bills to pay, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.
An interim payment is an advance on your compensation payment. Any amount you receive in interim payments would be deducted from your final compensation payment.
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.