The wrist is probably one of the most unappreciated joints of the human body. We rely on our wrists throughout the day to carry out all manner of activities (showering, getting dressed, eating, lifting things, gripping items, etc.) without ever thinking twice.
It is only after suffering a wrist injury that we come to fully appreciate the importance of this humble joint.
Wrist injuries occur from several reasons, including overusing the joint or continuous repetitive hand motions that can lead over time to painful conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
The more common causes of injury, however, are a heavy blow to the wrist or an accident that results in an unnatural bending or twisting of the joint which can lead to a fractured/broken wrist – which is estimated to affect over 240,000 people in the UK annually.
In such cases you could make a broken wrist compensation claim.
How Serious Is A Broken Wrist?
The wrist comprises of two big forearm bones (ulna & radius) and eight small bones known as carpals. A break or crack on any of these bones is what is referred to as a broken wrist.
Much like all broken bone injuries, there are varying degrees of severity to this type of injury. A broken wrist injury can take any of the following forms:
- Hairline Fracture – Comprises of a tiny crack on the bone that is sometimes hard to detect even with an x-ray. Hairline fractures are the easiest to remedy, with a cast or splint being the only usual course of treatment.
- Greenstick Fracture – Commonly known as an incomplete fracture, a greenstick fracture is when there is a partial break on one side of the bone.
- Complete Fracture – This is when there is a complete break or discontinuity on a bone. Complete fractures happen in several ways including a clean straight line (traverse) across the bone, a diagonal break (oblique) along a bone, or a break that spirals around the bone. Surgery is usually necessary in the case of complete wrist fracture.
- Segmental Break – In this case, the same bone breaks in 2 places, resulting in a floating segment of a bone or a piece of bone getting shifted out of place.
- Comminuted Fracture – This is a severe injury where multiple breaks occur, leaving behind several fragment pieces.
Whilst wrist injuries can be very painful and may need surgery to repair, the good news is that a broken wrist is not a fatal injury. Except for extremely severe cases that result in deformity, the vast majority of people with a fractured wrist fully recover.
However, it might take weeks, months, or even as long as two years before the broken bone completely mends, depending on the type and severity of the injury.
When Can You File For Broken Wrist Compensation?
Broken wrist injuries are much more common than you might imagine. It is the 3rd most commonly broken bone in the UK, after the clavicle (collarbone) and the arm.
Although not life-threatening, a broken wrist is a debilitating injury which can have a significant impact on the life of a victim. Everyday activities become difficult to manage, forcing you to rely on those around you.
It is possible to get some reprieve from all the pain, suffering, and likely loss of income that comes with a broken wrist injury, through the pursuance of a legal compensation claim. More so if the injury happened under one the following circumstances:
Following A Slip
The most common cause of a broken wrist is a trip, slip, or fall accident. It is human nature to extend the arms and cock the wrist before a fall. It is an instinctive reaction meant to break the fall and consequently protect the face, head, and back from injury.
Unfortunately, this often means the arms and wrist take the full impact of the fall, resulting in what is referred to in Orthopedics as a FOOSH (fall onto an outstretched hand) injury.
A fall of this type is most likely to result in a distal radius fracture or scaphoid fracture. That is because the radius and scaphoid bones (i.e. long bone & small carpal bone near the thumb) absorb the most shock during a fall.
Broken wrist compensation can be pursued whether the fall happened at work, in a privately owned area (supermarket, restaurant, etc) or a public space, if it was someone else’s fault and you can prove their negligence.
With public areas, the place in question should be covered by the Occupiers Liability Act 1984 to file a claim. According to the act, councils that manage public spaces like footpaths, children’s play areas, and public buildings such as a library, are liable for the health and safety of the people using and passing through the areas.
Therefore, if they fail in their duty of care and someone gets injured due to their negligence, then the victim may be able to make a claim for compensation.
After A Car Accident
Car accidents are another common cause of broken wrist injuries. The impact from a crash can deal a hard blow to the wrist, or in severe cases the hand may even be crushed as a result of a car accident.
Provided the accident was not your fault and the other party admits liability, it should be fairly straightforward to bring a broken wrist claim against the driver of the other car.
During A Sporting Activity
Fractured wrists are a common occurrence in high impact sports such as football, hockey, rugby, and skiing. But, by willingly indulging in such sports, you generally take on the risk of an injury occurring. Therefore, this usually leaves you with little legal room to seek compensation.
However, a broken wrist compensation claim may be possible in certain situations, again, if the injury was specifically caused by someone else’s negligence.
An example of this could be if you suffered a broken wrist using faulty equipment provided by a sports instructor, or you suffered the injury due to another player’s reckless and dangerous behaviour (e.g. when a football player deliberately trips a playmate or an excessively rough tackle from a rugby player).
How Is Liability Established In A Broken Wrist Claim?
For a defendant to be found liable in a broken wrist compensation claim, four key elements have to be proven.
Duty Of Care
To hold a person responsible for your injury, you first have to show that he/she owed you a legal obligation to safeguard your well-being. Duty of care is usually established through the claimant and defendant relationship.
For example, drivers have a duty of care not to cause harm to other road users, whilst employers are bound by the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1973 to prevent accidents at the workplace.
As mentioned earlier, owners of business premises and councils in charge of public spaces also have to adhere to strict rules to safeguard their visitors and those who access their areas.
Breach Of That Duty:
The next step is to show that the defendant acted in a certain way that was in direct violation of their duty. Or, failed to carry out one or more of their duties as stipulated by law.
This is probably the trickiest part of a compensation claim. First of all, as the claimant, you will have to prove that the defendant’s actions, which have been established as a breach of duty, were directly responsible for your predicament.
Additionally, the law requires the claimant to go a step further and show that the defendant was in a position to foresee that their negligent action had the potential of leading to injury.
Lastly, the court will require to see proof of the injuries caused by the accident, before awarding any compensation. Photos of the injury, clearly written details, and the official medical reports will be of great help at this stage the case.
Proving all this on your own can be a daunting and unfamiliar experience. Hence, this is why so many people seek the help of an experienced solicitor to guide them through the process, help to gather the required evidence and prepare a strong legal argument on the claimant’s behalf.
How Much Is A Broken Wrist Claim Worth?
Although there are a few common types of broken wrist injuries, such as a Colles fracture and the distal radius fracture, no two cases are exactly the same.
Breaks to the wrist bones tend to vary from person to person, which is why compensation is awarded on an individual basis, largely based on the severity of the injury, the time to recover and the long-term effect on a person’s daily life.
Therefore, as you would expect, the more serious the injury, the higher the pay-out would be in a successful claim.
Compensation awards are commonly anywhere from a few thousand pounds for minor injuries, upwards to tens of thousands of pounds for the most serious injuries. Whatever the severity of your broken wrist injury, claiming compensation for a valid case is your right, and it may lead to corrective action by the defendant which could prevent others from suffering the same fate.
Settlements Are Made Up Of Two Categories:
Compensation awarded for pain, suffering and the effect on a person’s daily life falls under ‘general damages’. There is a prescribed formula that the courts will follow and your solicitor will be able to explain how these are based on the injury details.
Your solicitor will also make a claim for ‘special damages’, which seek to offset the financial burden that the injury has had on your life. This includes financial losses such as the travelling costs to and from medical appointments, any prescription or additional medical costs incurred related to your injury, and any loss of earnings.
Special damages aim to reimburse you for these costs, but they must be validated, so keep copies of all receipts, invoices etc and keep a written record of such expenses. Damages for future loss of earnings may also be relevant if your injury is serious enough to prevent you from returning to your previous job or one with a similar salary.
Conclusion And Getting Help To Start Your Claim
Seeking compensation for a broken wrist, especially with the assistance of an experienced solicitor in this area, is not as difficult as many people may imagine it to be.
Providing you have all the necessary evidence to substantiate your claim and a qualified solicitor at your side, everything should proceed smoothly. In fact, with a strong case, the defendant might even offer an out-of-court settlement.
If, after reading the above, you feel you may have a valid broken wrist claim or another type of personal injury claim, contact us today. You will be put in touch with an experienced claims advisor, ready to provide you with free, no-obligation advice.