If an upper injury has set you back, we'll help you move forward

Injuries to the upper body, including the chest, back, and shoulders, often from accidents, falls, or overexertion. Medical treatments vary according to the specific injury, but may include pain management, physical therapy, and surgery.

If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by an upper injury, we can help. If your injuries were caused by someone else's actions or negligence, you may be entitled to claim compensation.

You can make a compensation claim with the help and support of a personal injury solicitor.

In this article


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

    The upper comprises many joints, bones and muscle groups and contains many vulnerable vital organs. With so many parts, upper 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 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 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.

    See also:

    Spinal injury compensation claims

    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?

    If you've been injured in an accident that was caused another person or organisation in the last 3 years, you will be entitled to make a claim for financial compensation.

    Find out online if you can claim with our injury claim calculator. Alternatively, you can speak to a claims advisor on 0800 376 1001 and find out if you have a claim in minutes.

    Am I still eligible to claim if I was partially responsible?

    Determining legal responsibility for a claimant's injuries can involve myriad factors.

    In our recent 2023 Personal Injury Claimant Survey, 13.99% of respondents believed they may have been partly (or wholly) responsible for their injuries.

    Claiming compensation is still an option even if you were partly at fault. These contributory negligence cases are typically resolved with a split-liability agreement.

    Read more:

    Can I claim if I feel I was partly responsible for my accident?

    How long after an upper body injury do I have to start a claim?

    In most cases, you have 3 years from the date of your accident or injury.

    If you were injured when you were under 18, a parent, guardian or adult 'litigation friend' can make a claim on your behalf. Once you turn 18, you have until your 21st birthday to start an injury claim.

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

    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.

    Upper body injury compensation calculator

    Get an accurate compensation estimate (including for multiple injuries), confirm your legal position, and check if you have a No Win, No Fee claim.

    Updated December 2023 Compensation Calculator v3.04

    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.

    How is compensation calculated if I have multiple injuries?

    Special damages

    Special damages are awarded to compensate you for any costs or losses you've incurred or might incur as a result of your accident. These costs might include loss of earnings, including lost overtime, holiday pay, benefits and pension contributions, or any other out of pocket expenses.

    Special damages may also be awarded for medical treatments or procedures that you might need to treat your upper injury, including pain medication, physiotherapy and surgery if needed.

    Read more:

    A complete list of recoverable losses in a personal injury claim

    What happened?

    The claims process for an upper body injury will depend on where and how the accident happened. Click the icons below for more information:

    Injury FAQs

    How long does an injury claim take?

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    What if a child was injured?

    No win, no fee upper body injury compensation claims

    With no win, no fee, you can claim upper body injury compensation without financial risk. If your claim isn't successful, you pay nothing. If you win, you only pay a pre-agreed percentage of your compensation.

    Find out more about how no win, no fee claims work

    How we can help you with your injury claim

    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.

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    If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee injury claim, we are open:

    Mon-Fri 8am-9pm, Sat 9am-6pm, Sun 9:30am-5pm

    Call us for FREE advice on 0800 376 1001, or arrange a call back from a friendly, legally-trained advisor:

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    Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

    Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher