Suffering from a back injury is a painful process that can take an emotional toll on those affected. Not only that, but its impact on your financial situation and the ever-present risk of permanent damage or disability can be of particular concern.
If you have suffered a back injury that was not your fault and are currently considering progressing with a back injury claim, but don’t know where to begin, then this article offers a well-researched roadmap that can start you on the journey. Back injuries can be sustained in a wide variety of places, such as at work, in public places or due to road accidents, to name but a few.
Due to the sheer number of different common back injuries, ranging anywhere from mild sprains to more severe spinal injuries and even paralysis, there are no one-size-fits-all settlements for them. Every back injury compensation claim needs to be individually reviewed and investigated and, as such, the final settlement value is wholly determined by the factors surrounding it.
Some Common Causes Of Back Injury Include The Following:
No one ever plans for an accident, but this does not change the fact that accidents are sadly a common occurrence in today’s world. The forceful impact resulting from a collision or rear-end bumps, for example, can have a debilitating effect on the back and spinal cord if left unchecked.
2) Heavy Manual Tasks
Manual tasks that usually involve lifting and moving heavy objects can strain the back muscles and lead to serious back injuries. This kind of injury is usually most linked to the workplace.
3) Slips And Falls
During a heavy fall, the back can be strained or even fractured. Little wonder that slips and falls make up a large proportion of the back-injury claims. This type of back injury is often caused by avoidable negligence in a public setting or a workplace.
Types Of Back Injuries Covered By A Claim
Once you have determined that the injury is not your fault, the next item on your agenda should be figuring out the type of back injury you have. Below is some information that may help you.
1) Brachial Plexus Injury
The brachial plexus is a group of nerves that distribute signals received from the spinal cord to the hand, shoulders, and arms. When this network of nerves is ripped apart, stretched or compressed, it can result in a weak back, pain or numbness.
2) Pulls, Strains And Pains
This type of injury occurs when the back muscle is torn or overstretched. It usually happens when least expected and can be quite painful.
3) Lower Back Pain
This kind of back injury is quite common and can cause immense discomfort to its sufferers. It is typically linked with four types of injury, namely:
- Strain: This is caused by damage to the back muscles.
- Fracture: When the back is fractured, it means one or more of the vertebrae is broken or cracked.
- Herniation: This occurs when the spinal discs are damaged or shifted from their original position.
- Sprain: This is caused by damage or tears to the ligaments.
- Spinal injuries: These are the most severe of all back injuries. They occur as a result of damage to the spinal cord and can be life-changing or life-threatening.
How Do I Make a Claim For Back Injury Compensation?
Knowing the type of back injury you have sustained and where you sustained it is not a complete picture in regards to filing a successful claim. You also need to know how you can effectively make a claim. The following information provides a rough guide on the generally accepted best practices in preparing to make a claim.
Should I Get A Medical Check-up?
Back injuries should not be treated lightly, because they can worsen over time if left alone. Therefore, it is important that you visit your GP for a check-up, to get a diagnosis and begin treatment as soon as possible.
Note that it is important for you to use your doctor. If your injury was sustained at work, even if your employer offers you the services of a doctor, also get an opinion from your own personal GP if you plan on filing a claim. The medical report submitted by your doctor is a crucial piece of evidence.
Gather Your Evidence
The weight of your evidence will determine how successful your claim will be. Don’t hesitate to take photos or videos of where the injury happened and of any physical cuts, marks or bruises sustained. Also, attempt to collect and record statements from witnesses present at the time of the incident. In addition, you can go the extra mile by putting together a timeline of events before and after the accident. This will help to create a clear picture in the minds of those overseeing the case. Whatever you do, don’t rely on your memory alone, as this can fade over time. Using your detailed written and photographic records will help your chosen solicitor determine if your back injury was the result of negligence and if you have a valid claim.
Should I Seek Legal Advice?
You could benefit from the opinion of experts in the field of personal injury claims, to ascertain if you have a legitimate case or not. A claims advisor can be contacted via here if you wish to discuss your case further. Once your chosen legal team have had the opportunity to review your evidence and the results from your medical check-up, they should be in a position to tell you how strong your claim is likely to be.
If required, you may even be referred to another medical practitioner for a more extensive examination. Once the initial processes are completed, your solicitor will be able to assess your evidence, find out who is responsible for your back injury and tell you the next action to take.
Factors Affecting Compensation
As mentioned earlier, every back injury claim is unique. In other words, figuring out the final compensation will not be possible until it is closely examined. However, there are a number of factors that are considered when determining a compensation pay-out and they include the following:
- The time taken off work and loss of income during the period of the injury
- Future financial losses that will be accrued as a result of the injury
- Rehabilitation time and costs
- Effect of the injury on activities not related to work, such as hobbies and special interests
- Overall medical costs due to the injury e.g. treatment, accommodation and travel
- Any psychological trauma caused by the accident
- Severity of the pain inflicted by the injury
- Impact on life expectancy
Once the above factors are calculated during negotiations between your solicitor and the party responsible for your injury, an accurate compensation amount can be calculated.
How Much Compensation To Expect?
Even though it is not possible to know in advance what your final compensation pay-out could be, previous settlement figures can be mentioned to give a rough guide. The compensation amount depends on the category given to the back injury and they are classified as either minor, moderate or severe.
A minor injury may lead to compensation of a few hundred pounds up to almost ten thousand, but a moderate injury claim could pay out from there to tens of thousands. As you may expect, in recognition of the most severe back injuries and the significant impact they have, settlements in this category can be anywhere from tens to thousands to over a hundred thousand pounds.
Disclaimer! These are not guaranteed amounts and are shown for illustrative purposes only.
1) Minor Injury
When a back injury is classed as minor, the damage is only temporary. In addition, full recovery is typically made within two years. Examples of minor back injuries are slipped discs, soft tissue damage or muscle pain.
2) Moderate Injury
In this category, the pain is usually long-term and may last for a lifetime. Pay-outs for moderate back injuries usually depend on the type of treatment required, the effect of injury on the individual’s functional ability, severity of pain and recovery time. An example of a moderate back injury is ligament damage.
3) Severe Injury
Back injuries that are categorised as severe may lead to impaired mobility, long term disability or paralysis. They may also require surgery to relieve the pain. Examples may include nerve root damage, spinal cord damage, or a prolapsed intervertebral disc.
Types Of Compensation
When filing your claim, you typically have access to two types of compensation, namely:
1) General Damages
This type of compensation is usually related to the physical and mental effects of the injury. Typically, it covers issues such as emotional distress, mental trauma, pain and suffering. When calculating general damages, a measure of discretion is allowed.
2) Special Damages
This type of compensation deals with the financial expenses incurred as a result of the accident, which aims to cover all the present and future costs. Unlike general damages, special damages does not allow for any discretion or variation during its calculation. It includes the following:
- Medical expenses
- Loss of earnings
- Future loss of earnings
- Adaptation to home and car
- Extra transport expenses
Frequently Asked Questions About Back Injury Compensation
Here are some commonly asked questions about making a back-injury claim:
What Is The Time Limit For Filing A Back Injury Claim?
The law allows victims of such injuries a time period of three years to make their claim, beginning from the day the accident occurred. However, if you are claiming – on behalf of a person with reduced mental capacity or for a child under 18, the time limit might be extended.
What Is My Next Option If I Cannot Afford A Solicitor?
If you are financially constrained, you should still seek the assistance of a solicitor. It is likely that you will be offered a No Win-No Fee option. This option means that your solicitor can still pursue the case on your behalf without any financial deposit or up-front costs to you. You will only pay if your claim is successful and will typically be taken from your final settlement figure.
Can I Still File A Claim If The Back Injury Worsens Three Years After The Accident?
Yes, you may still be able to make a claim. If the severity or long-term implications of the back injury is not apparent or diagnosed until much later after the original incident, you usually have three years from when you become aware of the injury to file a claim. This is why documentation and evidence from the original incident is so important. The medical report will also be crucial.
If I Sustained My Injury At Work, Can I File A Claim Against My Employer?
Yes, you can. Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, your employer has an obligation to provide a safe environment for you to work.
In other words, they are legally required to equip you with the right training, tools, safety equipment and proper supervision to enable you fully carry out your job, safely. However, if your employer does not adhere to the regulations and their negligence results in your injury, you are well within your rights to file a compensation claim against them.
What If My Employer Dismisses Me After I File My Back-injury Claim?
Then your employer would be actively breaking the law. This is more commonly known as unfair dismissal and is also a valid reason to make a further compensation claim. You should not be dissuaded from pursuing a claim due to the financial implications for your employer, as in the vast majority of cases the company’s employer liability insurance policy will adequately cover your compensation claim.
What Should I Do If The Doctor Misdiagnoses My Back Injury And It Worsens?
If your GP was negligent in diagnosing and treating your injury only for it to worsen later on, you may be able to file a medical negligence claim.
If your back injury is not your fault, it is perfectly acceptable to make a claim for compensation. It may also lead to a review of safety measures where the incident occurred, which could prevent someone else suffering the same fate.
However, in the first instance, we suggest getting the expert advice of a claims advisor or solicitor to review your case and see if you have a valid claim. The likelihood is that he or she will have more knowledge of the claims process and factors involved than we can cover in this article.
Besides, instructing a professional to handle your claim on your behalf allows you to solely concentrate on recovery, whilst they aim to get you the financial compensation you deserve.