When you consider the pressure which we exert on our knees on a daily basis, and the obesity crisis sweeping the UK, it is perhaps no surprise that knee injury compensation claims are now more commonplace than ever before. A study by the British Journal of Sports Medicine perfectly highlights the number of knee injuries which occur each year. The report suggests that an A&E department covering a population of 400,000 people will on average admit around 500 people per year with major knee injuries.
We often associate this type of injury with sport but they also occur in road traffic accidents, the workplace and as a consequence of slips, trips and falls. Cruciate ligament damage is a serious problem caused by the knee twisting at an unnatural angle thereby placing pressure on the tendons and ligaments leading to damage. Cruciate ligament damage, with professional sports people such as footballers often hitting the headlines, accounts for around 40% of all sports related injuries each year.
We will now take a look at the claims process when pursing knee injury compensation where there has been negligence or omissions from a third party.
The Basis Of A Knee Injury Compensation Claim
As we touched on above, there are many different ways in which you can injure your knee and while cruciate ligament damage tends to grab the headlines in sports such as football, knee injury claims can also be caused by:-
- Motorcycle accidents.
- Car accidents.
- Bicycle accidents.
- Slips, trips and falls.
- Falling from a height.
- Accidents at work.
- Accidents brought on by repetitive practices.
- Medical negligence.
- Accidents when manually handling goods and materials.
While these are the more common types of knee based injury claims, this type of injury can occur in many different situations. Once the injury has been diagnosed the first thing to do is to find the cause of the injury. As with any personal injury claim the claimant will need to prove the accident was caused by third party negligence.
To give a broad example, we have seen professional footballers lodge successful personal injury claims after suffering horrendous knee injuries due to reckless/ negligent tackling. Many people assume that any injuries which occur on the football field, or any sports arena, are in some way exempt from legal action when it comes to negligence or reckless behaviour – this is not the case.
Common Causes Of Knee Injury Claims
The knee is a very complicated part of the body involving the connection of the kneecap, bones, tendons, cartilage and ligaments. There are a number of common knee injuries which can cause significant pain and suffering. Those which tend to result in a knee injury compensation claim include:
- Housemaids knee otherwise known as bursitis.
- Breaks and fractures of the knee.
- Damage to the patella (kneecap).
- Cartilage damage.
- Ligament tears.
- Muscle injuries including sprains and strains.
When suffering injury to your knees it is sometimes easy to focus on short-term pain and suffering and perhaps neglect potential long-term issues – such as arthritis, etc. There will be some relatively minor knee injuries which require minimal medical assistance and will recover perfectly well. While other injuries can involve months and potentially years of rehabilitation to strengthen and improve the knee joint, many serious injuries can result in long-term mobility issues. An undamaged knee is extremely strong as it effectively carries the full weight of an individual although any damage can be potentially life changing.
It is fairly easy to diagnose the full extent of the knee injury via a medical examination and x-rays where required. As with any other personal injury claim, the extent to which a knee injury impacts the claimant’s life will dictate potential levels of knee injury compensation where third-party negligence is proven. After diagnosing a knee injury, medical professionals will also be able to give an estimate on the treatment and rehabilitation required which will be taken into account if any compensation is awarded.
Making A Compensation Claim For A Knee Injury
When involved in an accident which resulted in a knee injury there are certain criteria which need to be met before any personal injury claim is lodged. The incident/ accident in question must have:
- Occurred within three years.
- Been a direct result of negligence or omission by a third party.
- Directly caused the knee injury.
If these three criteria are met then there is every chance of pursuing a personal injury claim although this is just the start of the process. The next step is to prove that the defendant was the cause of the accident or has been negligent and is legally responsible in the eyes of the law. This will involve gathering as much evidence as possible both from witnesses as well as the medical profession.
The process of pursuing knee injury claims is a little more complicated than traditional claims because it may not be obvious at first glance who caused the accident. We have seen many occasions where the claimant has been held partly responsible for the accident and others where more than one party has been held liable. Where the claimant has been proven to be at least partly responsible for the knee injury this will obviously reduce any potential compensation awarded. In situations where more than one party is held liable these are normally resolved with what is known as a “split liability agreement”. There are a number of issues to take into consideration when deciding which parties and type of claim to pursue.
We will now take a look at the amounts of knee injury compensation which have traditionally been awarded for different degrees of knee injury.
Amounts Of Compensation For A Knee Injury Claim
For successful knee injury compensation claims there are an array of guidelines which relate to general damages, pain and suffering caused by the injury, and special damages, which relate to economic losses. It will obviously depend upon the type and the severity of the injury as to what levels of compensation may be awarded. The general damages guidelines are as follows:
- Serious injuries which may require knee replacement surgery and have a long-term impact on the claimant’s life generally attract compensation awards of between £19,000 and £73,125.
- Dislocations and cartilage issues often result in long-term weakening of the knee joint and as a consequence the compensation guidelines are between £11,275 and £19,900.
- Similar knee injuries to those above such as knee dislocations and cartilage damage but which are considered less serious could be awarded in the region of £4,650 and £11,275.
- Compensation of between a few hundred £’s and £4650 for a sprain/ painful bruising of the knee which is expected to recover within a 12 month period.
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The general damages guidelines cover the level of compensation for pain, suffering and any impact on future living standards caused by the knee injury. As the knee joint is obviously very important when looking at mobility it can have a massive impact upon a claimant’s lifestyle in the long-term. There may be problems driving vehicles, climbing stairs and general mobility challenges. The special damages framework is much more stringent than the general damages guidance as it relates to actual expenses and future costs. Knee injury compensation can be awarded under the umbrella of special damages for issues such as:
- Medical and personal care costs.
- Specialist equipment.
- Special adaptions required to the home.
- Loss of historic and future earnings.
- Travel costs.
The level of special damages will take into account all of the above matters and the claimant should present a detailed analysis of future funding requirements to the court. Even though different parties may arrive at different figures when calculating special damages compensation, as long as the knee injury claim includes the data used and assumptions made then it will be considered favourably by the courts.
Pursuing Compensation For A Knee Injury
When pursuing compensation for a knee injury the first thing to do is obtain a diagnosis from the medical profession which will form the basis of any knee injury claim. The majority of personal injury solicitors who take on knee injury claims will do so on a No Win No fee arrangement and only pursue actions where they feel there is a convincing case. Due to the nature of knee injuries they are fairly simple to diagnose after which it is a case of proving third-party liability and pursuing compensation.
While the early wheels of justice tend to move fairly slowly, the vast majority of valid personal injury claims are settled out-of-court. Your solicitor will advise you of the knee injury compensation claims process, the timescale and the role of the claimant going forward.