If you have suffered a back injury because of somebody else’s negligence whether it was at work, in a car accident or something else you may be entitled to make a back injury claim for compensation.
Are You Eligible To Make A Back Injury Claim?
You can only make a back injury claim if a third party has been negligent, hence responsible for the accident which directly caused your back injury or exacerbated an already existing back problem. This is the crux of any back injury compensation claim, the ability to prove beyond reasonable doubt that one or more third parties were negligent. However, there are some other issues to take into consideration such as:
- There is a three-year time limit from the date of the back injury (or the date when the injury was diagnosed) in which to claim compensation.
- It must be proven beyond reasonable doubt that the accident (or long-term working practice issues) directly caused the back injuries in question.
- There will be situations where negligence in the workplace as an example has exacerbated an existing back injury and if this can be proven, then a compensation claim can be lodged
There will also be situations where the claimant was perhaps partially responsible for their back injury. In this situation there is a common misconception that the individual suffering the back injury will not be able to claim for compensation – this is wrong. In the event that there is shared negligence, whether between the claimant and the defendant or the defendant and another party, this does not stop the injured party lodging a back injury claim. If they are then found to be partially responsible for the accident, and the subsequent back injury, then an adjustment would be made to any final compensation award to reflect this.
Assessing A Back Injury
We know from past cases and medical data that the majority of back injury claims relate to:
- Fractured vertebrae
- Herniated discs
One of the main problems with back injuries is the fact that long-term wear and tear can cause serious injuries as can a simple movement cause immediate distress and pain. The extremely complicated nature of the human back, vertebrae, neck and connected limbs can make it very difficult to treat and one injury can place pressure on other areas of the back causing further injury. Those who have experienced back operations will be well aware of the extended period of rehabilitation and the fact that there are no guarantees of success.
If you are experiencing back problems then it is imperative that you visit your doctor as soon as possible. They will give you a full examination, question you about working practices and make an informed decision as to what caused your back injury and any treatment required. The degree of severity varies enormously from simple strains and sprains which can disappear in a matter of days to more severe back injuries which can have an impact upon a person’s mobility for the rest of their life.
Common Back Injury Claims
As you can guess, there are many situations where back injuries can occur almost immediately or further down the line with general wear and tear of the body. Some of the more common back injury claims for compensation include:
- Road traffic accidents are extremely common when it comes to back injuries and whiplash compensation claims. Whether the result of a head-on collision or perhaps a bump from the rear, whiplash can be an extremely painful and sometimes cause long-term injury.
- Lifting and carrying of heavy objects and various other manual handling tasks in the workplace are another common area where back injuries can occur. In this specific situation it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that their employees have the relevant training, safety equipment and there is appropriate signage in and around the workplace.
- Slips, trips and falls have the ability to seriously jolt the back which can cause an array of different injuries. In many of the situations it may be down to negligence in the workplace, or a public body, which is to blame.
- Sporting accidents have in the past caused serious back injuries and while there is always a recognised degree of risk when playing certain sports, this does not mean that the law of negligence cannot be applied.
- Faulty equipment such as chairs can also lead to painful back injuries.
This is just an example of the instances where back injuries can and do occur on a regular basis and where there may well be a level of negligence by a third party for which back injury compensation could be paid out. If you have received a back injury as a consequence of what you deem to be negligence by a third party then it is worth enquiring about a potential compensation claim.
How To Lodge A Back Injury Claim
In the event that you are involved in an accident which causes significant discomfort to your back and neck area then you should arrange a medical checkup as soon as possible and relevant treatment. This will ensure that any injury is addressed as soon as possible thereby hopefully helping to alleviate further injury. There will be situations where, for example with a type of repetitive strain injury, the pain gradually gets worse before it is diagnosed. Even though traditionally there is a three-year window of opportunity in which to lodge a back injury claim for compensation, generally from the day of the accident, you will also be able to claim within a three-year period of diagnoses if your injury is only diagnosed further down the line.
Once you have received the relevant medical attention it is then imperative that you attempt to gather more evidence in the shape of photographs, witness statements and where the back injury has occurred at work, perhaps a copy of similar injuries in the company’s accident book. It can also be advantageous to put together a timeline of events on the day of the accident to give a full picture to the defendant and the courts where applicable. Even though you may have three years in which to make a back injury claim, time can fade the memory and events on the day of the accident can become blurred and unclear. In this situation it is possible to weaken what would have been a relatively strong case if pursued at an earlier date.
Approaching A Personal Injury Solicitor
If you want to claim compensation for a back injury or just simply want expert advice on a potential back injury claim you should contact a personal injury solicitor at your earliest convenience. The vast majority of personal injury solicitors in the UK will have significant experience in the area of back injuries and as a consequence will be able to advise you accordingly. If required, they also have access to independent third-party medical practitioners who can carry out further examinations to confirm the extent of any injuries.
If you decide to contact a solicitor to discuss the details of your back injury they’ll be able to advise quite quickly on how strong a claim they think you have. If they conclude you should claim compensation they will in all probability offer a No Win No Fee arrangement meaning you would only pay an agreed success fee if your back injury claims is successful. As some solicitors and law firms may operate slightly differently from each other you should always ascertain what fee/fees you will be expected to pay.
It is worth reminding ourselves that while No Win No Fee arrangements have received their fair share of negative publicity in years gone by, for many people they are financially the only option. They also ensure that negligent third parties are held to account which can only improve safety aspects going forward and the protection of others.
Proving Negligence For A Back Injury
In the vast majority of back injury claims, negligence is relatively easy to prove and is often very obvious. As a consequence, many defendants will look to negotiate a relatively quick out-of-court settlement to cap their legal fees and bring to an end what can be a distressing and difficult situation for all parties. It also ensures that the claimant receives their compensation in a timely manner.
There are cases when negligence has been disputed, or there has been more than one potentially negligent party, at this point the claim will go before the courts. The judge will review all of the evidence from the claimant and defendant and make a ruling on negligence, liability and any how much back injury compensation is awarded.
Back Injury Compensation Payouts
Back injuries can be extremely complex and even the most innocuous of tweaks can attract back pain for many months or even years to come. The Judicial College is a body which puts together a summary of historic compensation awards for back injuries and other specific injuries. While these guidelines have no legal standing they are well respected by the courts and solicitors and form a basis for calculating back injury compensation payouts. The guidelines for back injury compensation amounts are as follows:
- A few hundred £’s – £1,860 compensation payout for minor back injuries such as soft tissue damage where recovery is within three months.
- £1,860 -£6,000 compensation for a minor back injury that recovers within a three month to two year period.
- £6,000 -£9,500 compensation for minor back injuries that recover within two to five years.
- £9,500 – £21,000 compensation payout for moderate back injury/or exacerbating an existing back injury, dependent on different factors like recovery time, amount of pain, treatment required, and what impact the injury has on the persons ability to function.
- £21,000 – £29,475 compensation for a moderate back injury resulting in some disability. An example would be a prolapsed intervertebral disc that requires surgery.
- £29,475 – £53,000 compensation for a severe back injuries such as fractures of discs that result in continuing pain.
- £56,375 – £67,200 compensation for severe back injury that have special features such as nerve root damage resulting in loss of sensation, impaired bowel and bladder funtion, impaired mobility.
- £69,200 – £122,350 compensation for the severest types of back injury. This type of back injury would involve damage to the spinal cord and nerve roots resulting in a combination of serious consequences.
As we touched on above, it is also possible to claim for negligence where an accident has exacerbated an existing problem with your back, neck or other limbs. In theory this is relatively easy to prove with a simple medical examination and x-rays, etc.
General Damages And Special Damages
There are two specific types of compensation available when pursuing a back injury claim which are known as general damages and special damages. General damages are financial compensation as a result of accident related back injuries covering issues such as:
- Pain and suffering from the back injury
- Mental trauma
- Life changing back injuries
This is the element of compensation which refers to the Judicial College guidelines although there is a degree of discretion/variation to take into account the specifics of each individual back injury claim. We then have special damages which relate purely and simply to financial redress for expenses incurred and funding requirements for the future, all directly related to back injuries received as a consequence of the accident. Specifically special damages can include:
- Medical expenses
- Future medical expenses
- Loss of earnings
- Future loss of earnings
- Additional transport expenses
- Adaptions to the home
There is no variation/discretion allowed when calculating special damages in back injury claims as they are simply financial redress or funding for future treatment/expenses directly related to the injury. As you can imagine, the cumulative impact of general damages and special damages can lead to significant levels of compensation.
To have your back injury claim assessed and evaluated by an experienced personal injury solicitor please contact us today.