Did you know that the cervical spine (the collective name given to the bones within the neck) offers the greatest range of motion compared to the rest of the spinal column? It is the reason why you can tilt your neck up, down and sideways.
The downside to this, however, is that the flexibility and movement of the cervical spine also means that it is the least protected part of the spine. Because of this, the neck is highly prone to injury, with neck (and back) pain being amongst the top disabling conditions worldwide.
In the UK, the annual occurrence of traumatic spinal cord injury is estimated at 15 per million, with half of these accounting for cervical spine injuries. Neck injuries can occur during some sort of accident, but they can also be caused by someone else’s carelessness or reckless behaviour.
In this article, we will be offering some useful information for anyone considering seeking legal recourse for a neck injury caused by someone else, which could result in a neck injury compensation claim.
What Is A Neck Injury?
In medical terms, a neck injury is defined as damage to any part of the neck’s musculoskeletal system. That includes the spine, bones, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and muscles between the base of the head and the shoulders.
Depending on the affected area and the severity of the damage sustained, neck injuries are generally divided into the following three categories:
With a minor neck injury, you may experience some short-lived numbness or mild pain in your neck. It is often a result of mild trauma to the muscles, soft tissue, ligaments, or tendons on the neck. Thankfully, this type of neck injury is not generally considered to be that serious and tends to heal completely within a few days.
Those classified as moderate neck injuries can involve damage to the bones, or more significant trauma to the surrounding tissues of the neck. They tend to include injuries such as cervical spondylosis (wear and tear of the spinal discs in the neck), as well as herniated or slipped discs, to name just a few.
The pain suffered with a ‘moderate’ classified injury would be much greater than in the case of a minor injury and the expected recovery period is likely to be much longer, perhaps anywhere between 1-2 years or more.
Severe neck injuries, as you would expect, are the most serious. These often result in some form of temporary or permanent paralysis. This kind of injury usually involves damage to the spinal cord, where a fracture or break occurs at the vertebrae in the neck.
What Do You Need To Claim For Neck Injury Compensation?
If you have suffered a neck injury through no fault of your own, it is possible to file for compensation. However, there is a criteria checklist to meet, to increase the chances of a successful claim.
Legal Time Limit
For starters, the injury must have happened in the last 3-years. The reason for that is because a neck injury compensation claim (along with most other personal injury claims) has a statutory time limit.
Under UK law, you must file such a lawsuit within three years from the date of the injury. This time period may also start from the date you first received the diagnosis of your neck injury, providing it happened due to someone else’s actions or negligence.
There are many scenarios that could result in a neck injury, perhaps you were involved in an accident caused by someone else, or suffered it as a work injury, or fell in a supermarket, or maybe as a result of medical malpractice/negligence. The list of potential causes goes on and on.
Although the 3-year time limit applies in the vast majority of compensation claim cases, if you were the victim and suffered a neck injury more than three years ago it may still be worth talking it through with a claims advisor (which you can do here), as there are some exceptions.
Minors are also exempt from the 3-year rule, with the law allowing a parent or legal guardian to make a claim on behalf of the child up until their 21st birthday, for any injury sustained when they were 18 or younger.
Whose Fault Was It?
Secondly, the harm experienced must be directly traced back and evidenced as due to the fault of someone else. This will require you to prove that a second party is liable for your injuries. Admissible evidence in court can include eyewitness accounts, medical reports from your GP/Hospital/Specialist, photographs of your injuries, CCTV footage, an official police report (in the case of an accident/assault), etc.
Duty Of Care
Lastly, the person responsible for your predicament needs to have owed you a ‘duty of care’ to be found liable in a compensation claim. This could be an employer, grocery store owner, medical practitioner, negligent driver, etc.
What Are The Most Common Neck Injury Accidents That Result In Claims?
Resulting from trauma to the back of the neck or head, these types of injuries occur in many different scenarios. As a result, the only way to know for sure if you qualify for a neck injury compensation claim is to consult a claims advisor or personal injury solicitor to discuss your specific case.
However, some of the more common situations that have resulted in successful compensation claims include:
- Whiplash (i.e. violent movement of the head forwards then backwards) from a car accident
- Getting hit by a car when riding a bicycle/motorcycle or as a pedestrian crossing the road
- Work accidents, where you slip/fall and injure the neck or suffer a serious strain injury from lifting heavy items
- Slips and falls on the street due to uneven or icy pavements or injuries sustained in other public places
- Medical negligence, such as surgical errors or mishandling of the neck during treatment, or misdiagnosis that has led to a neck injury worsening
What Criteria Does The Court Use For Neck Injury Compensation?
Like any other successful compensation claim, the settlement you will ultimately receive following a neck injury will depend entirely on your specific circumstances. The court will base the compensation on:
1) The Severity Of The Injury
How much compensation you get from a neck injury claim will largely depend on the extent of the injury.
Minor neck injury claims receive the least compensation, which averages between £1000 and a little over £3,000. On the other hand, pay-outs for moderate injuries may range from £6,000 to £20,000 or more.
Severe neck injuries are eligible for the highest pay-outs, with compensation for cases of temporary-restricted movement starting around £30,000. For a neck injury that results in paralysis, compensation figures can be as high as £140,000 to £300,000. It is important to note, however, these figures are only an approximation of the UK judicial college injury table, with actual cases receiving unique compensations. Settlements can be higher or lower than those listed here, which is why it is advisable to discuss your case with a claims professional.
2) Present And Future Medical Care
Regardless of how minor an injury is, damage to the neck will likely require some sort of treatment (which could be physiotherapy, pain medication, rest, etc.).
In a successful case, the court will ensure that the awarded compensation will reimburse all treatment costs to date and those expected to cover future medical care. This amount would be in addition to what compensation is awarded for the pain and suffering element of the injury.
If you cannot afford to make payment for the required medical treatment, your solicitor may be able to secure you an early compensation pay-out. It is referred to as interim compensation payment and is deductible from the final compensation settlement awarded after the trial concludes.
How Long Would A Neck Injury Claim Take?
Since every case is different, the time it takes to settle a neck injury claim varies significantly. Generally, the stronger the evidence and acceptance of liability from the other party, the shorter time a case will take to process and conclude.
A straightforward case can end in a couple of months and getting an out-of-court-settlement could be even quicker when the other side accepts full liability. Many compensation claims are settled out of court, which is why the knowledge and expertise of an experienced claims handler is so advantageous.
More complicated cases can take 4-9 months to conclude and those relating to medical negligence claims could take 12-36 months (because the potential pay-outs in these circumstances may be higher).
Claims Compass can help you start this process. We can arrange for a free no-obligation call from an experienced claims advisor, ready to discuss your case. They can usually offer a no-win-no-fee legal service and will work on your behalf to get the best outcome for your claim.
If you are planning to file a neck injury compensation claim, it is prudent to contact a legal professional as soon as possible. The fresher the injury, the easier it may be to gather the necessary evidence to support your claim.
Hiring an experienced claims advisor/legal practitioner as soon as possible will also help to prevent the responsible party from trying to undervalue your claim by offering a poor settlement in exchange for you not taking further action.
If someone else is responsible for your neck injury and you have evidence to prove it, use the form below to help get you started on your compensation claim journey.