Back Injury Claims & Compensation

Back injury claim


Even a relatively minor back injury can be debilitating, while more serious back injuries can cause devastating long-term complications. Coming to terms with the impact of a back injury on your life can be hard enough, although knowing that an injury could have been avoided, but for the carelessness, recklessness or wrongdoing on the part of someone else, can make this so much worse. By seeking compensation, this can help you to get some justice for what has happened, with the financial support needed to move forward.

The following guide to back injury claims looks at what these are and what types of injuries will be covered. We also examine who can bring a back injury claim, how to do this, what you will need to prove a claim, how much compensation you could get and how long you will have to bring a claim against the person or entity allegedly responsible for your injury.

What is a back injury claim?

A back injury claim is a claim for compensation for any type of injury to your mid or lower spine arising out of an accident for which someone else was to blame or, at least, partly to blame. The most common causes of back injuries are road traffic accidents, slips or trips in a public place, or accidents at work, such as falling from a height or slipping on a spillage.

However, it is also possible to sustain a back injury as a result of poor working practices, such as manual handling in the health and social care sector, repetitive actions working on a production line, sitting in the same position for prolonged periods when working in an office or standing for prolonged periods working in a warehouse environment.

In some cases, a back injury could even be caused as a result of medical negligence, such as receiving an incorrect or delayed diagnosis for the condition known as cauda equina syndrome. This results from compression of the nerves at the base of the spine and for which emergency surgical intervention is needed to prevent permanent symptoms.

The important thing to remember is that when your back injury is the fault of someone else, you could be able to claim compensation to recompense you for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity caused by your symptoms and for any other losses arising out of this.

What counts as back injury?

A back injury can range from a minor soft tissue injury caused, for example, as a result of a road traffic accident, to severe damage to the spinal cord caused by a fall from a height.

When it comes to minor or moderate back injuries, common symptoms could include pain, discomfort, aching, stiffness and even a constant numbness or tingling sensation in one or both hands and feet. In more serious cases, back injuries can cause extreme pain, combined with the partial or full loss of bladder or bowel function, as well as partial or total paralysis.

Even with back injuries where the symptoms are relatively low level to begin with, there could be an increased risk of osteoarthritis where, over time, the symptoms gradually become far worse, resulting in a debilitating and permanent condition in later life.

Who can bring a back injury claim?

If you have sustained a back injury for which someone else was responsible, or partly responsible, you may be able to bring a claim for compensation for that injury.

There are various ways in which you could be eligible to bring a back injury claim, although perhaps the most common scenario is as a result of some form of motor collision. This is because all motorists have a duty of care to ensure that their actions do not cause injury to other road users, including any other drivers, passengers, motor cyclists, pedal cyclists or pedestrians. This means that you will have a potential claim in negligence if you can prove that the proposed defendant breached that duty by driving carelessly or recklessly.

Equally, in the context of any other type of claim, provided you can show 1) a duty of care was owed to you, 2) that duty was breached and 3) that breach caused your injury, you can bring a claim. This includes where your employer breaches their duty to ensure your health, safety and welfare at work as their employee; where an occupier, such as the local council or a retailer breaches their duty to ensure that you are reasonably safe as a visitor in using their premises for the purpose for which you were invited; or where a doctor breaches their duty to provide you with a reasonable standard of medical care as their patient.

Importantly, you do not need to be over 18 to recover compensation for a back injury, although any claim as a minor must be brought on your behalf by an adult, typically by either one of your parents or legal guardian. That person will be referred to in the context of any court proceedings as your litigation friend. If your claim is successful, the compensation recovered will be invested by the court and accrue interest until you turn 18.

How do you bring a back injury claim?

When making a back injury claim, it is best to seek the advice of a solicitor specialising in these types of claims as soon as possible. Even with relatively minor back injuries, the medical prognosis is not always clear, where an injury can have long-term complications. By seeking expert legal advice, your solicitor can ensure that you are adequately compensated for your injury, including any financial losses arising out of what has happened.

In limited cases, namely for a low value back injury as a result of a road traffic accident in England and Wales, where you were inside the vehicle, you may be able to use the government’s online claims portal. Strictly speaking, you do not need a solicitor to do this, although back injury claims can quickly become complex, so you may still want to instruct a solicitor to help you navigate this process. In all other cases, having a solicitor on board will help you to gather the evidence needed to successfully prove all elements of your claim.

Can you claim for a back injury at work?

There are various scenarios in which you can claim for a back injury at work, from a workplace accident, such as falling from a height to an accident caused by unsafe working practices, such as inadequate risk assessments or training for manual handling tasks.

Importantly, all employers must have employer’s liability insurance in place to cover these types of claims. This means that an employer will never be unable to pay for a back injury claim, where it will be their insurers who will handle and fund your compensation payout.

What will you need to prove a back injury claim?

The nature of the evidence needed to prove a back injury claim will depend on whether or not liability remains in dispute. If the proposed defendant has denied lability, or the insurers have denied liability on their behalf, to successfully prove a breach of duty you will generally need a number of different types of evidence. This could include, for example, an engineer’s report as to the damage to any vehicle(s) and photographs of the road layout in the context of a road traffic accident. For an accident at work, you would again need photos of the accident scene, together with any accident report. In either case, having dash cam or CCTV footage can also go a long way to proving who was responsible for an accident.

You will also need to provide a clear and detailed witness statement of the facts both pre- and post-accident and, ideally, witness statements from anyone else who was present.

However, if liability is admitted, you will no longer need to provide evidence to prove how the accident happened or to levy blame against the proposed defendant. Instead, you will need to focus on your medical evidence, showing the nature and extent of your back injury and how this was caused, in this way linking the defendant’s breach of duty with the injury sustained. In serious cases, there will also need to be a detailed assessment of your recovery and rehabilitation, and any care and accommodation needs moving forward.

Finally, when it comes to any financial losses arising out of the accident or injury sustained, there will need to be clear documentary proof of these losses, including loss of earnings, any personal or medical care already received, medication costs and any other expenses.

How much compensation can you get for a back injury claim?

The compensation that you could get for a back injury claim will depend on the nature and extent of that injury, including whether or not you are likely to suffer from any ongoing or permanent symptoms. Back injuries can range from minor soft tissue injuries, for which you could recover just a few hundred pounds, to serious spinal injuries resulting in debilitating and life-changing symptoms, for which you could get a significant six-figure payout. This is because, the more serious the injury, the greater the impact on your ability to work and on your overall quality of life. You may also need extensive rehabilitation, adaptations to your living and travel arrangements, as well as ongoing personal care.

A claim for compensation for a back injury will therefore comprise a separate sum for your pain, suffering and loss of amenity, known as general damages, together with special damages, representing the various different additional heads of loss. These can include past and future loss of earnings; past and future care costs; rehabilitation and other support services; any medication costs; any housing adaptations and specialist equipment, such as a specially adapted vehicle; or any other mobility aids or assistive technology.

How long does it take to bring a back injury claim?

A back injury claim, as with the injury itself, can take time to resolve. This is because these types of injuries will often require a number of medical reports, providing an up-to-date account of any ongoing symptoms and the impact that these are having on your life.

In the most serious cases, it can often take years to reach the end of any rehabilitation period, at which stage an assessment can be made by the appropriate medical experts as to the nature and extent of any permanent and life-changing symptoms. Seeking to resolve a serious back injury claim too soon runs the risk of undervaluing your claim, where it is essential to understand how your injury will affect you long-term, including any ongoing care and mobility needs. In serious cases, the compensation will be designed to provide for you for the rest of your life, so it is important that this reflects the totality of your needs.

In the mean time, your solicitor can seek to recover an interim payment to meet your financial needs pending settlement of the final back injury claim. This will be possible where the proposed defendant has admitted liability for causing your injury.

How long do you have to bring a back injury claim?

The standard time limit for starting a back injury claim is 3 years from the date you suffered your injury or 3 years from the date of knowledge.

The date of knowledge is the date that you became aware of the injury or could, with reasonable diligence, have been aware. In most cases, the date of knowledge and date of injury will be one and the same, for example, in the context of a road traffic accident. However, when it comes to work-related back injury claims, these may not necessarily be traced back to a single traumatic event, but rather to ongoing circumstances, such as working for months or years in an environment without suitable lifting aids or rest breaks.

There are also some limited exceptions to the 3-year rule, including claims for minors, where they have until they turn 21 to be able to claim.

However, it is best to commence a back injury claim at the earliest possible opportunity, or instruct solicitors to investigate your claim, so that it makes it easier to gather evidence in support of your case. If liability remains in dispute this is especially important, so that events remain fresh for any witnesses. By commencing a claim as soon as possible, this also means that you are more likely to be able to access an early payment to help ease any financial pressure that may have been caused by the accident.

Back injury claim FAQs

What is the average payout for a back injury UK?

Every back injury case is completely unique, where a minor and short-lived whiplash style injury could attract an award of compensation of less than £1000, while a debilitating spinal fracture with permanent symptoms could be worth in excess of £100,000.

How much can you get from a back injury?

The amount of compensation that you could get for a back injury can range from a few hundred pounds to tens of thousands of pounds, depending on the severity of your injury and the impact of this on your life.

How much can I claim for back injury at work UK?

The amount that you can claim for a back injury sustained at work will not only depend on whether your employer was in breach of their duty to ensure your health, safety and welfare, but the seriousness of your injury.

How do you prove a back injury?

To prove a back injury in the context of a claim for compensation, you will need clear evidence that someone was responsible for this, as well as independent medical evidence to prove the nature and severity of your injury.


Legal disclaimer

The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.


Gill Laing is a qualified Legal Researcher & Analyst with niche specialisms in Law, Tax, Human Resources, Immigration & Employment Law.

Gill is a Multiple Business Owner and the Managing Director of Prof Services - a Marketing Agency for the Professional Services Sector.

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