Types of Injuries

Types of injuries

Neck injuries

There is a very wide range of neck injuries. Many are found in conjunction with back and shoulder problems. They can range from mild soft tissue injuries, to fractures, dislocations, or slipped discs, leading up to incomplete paraplegia or resulting in permanent spastic quadriparesis. For more minor injuries, awards of compensation can be in the region of £2,000 – £7,000. The amount awarded will depend on various factors such as the severity of the neck injury, the duration of the symptoms, the treatment required, the effect on the injured persons everyday activities, the impact of the injury on the injured persons ability to work etc.

Moderate injuries, awards of compensation can range from £7,000 – £35,000. Injuries which may have accelerated and/or exacerbated a pre-existing condition over a shorter period of time, usually less than five years will attract an award towards the lower end of the bracket. Injuries such as fractures or dislocations which cause severe immediate symptoms and which may necessitate spinal fusion will attract an award towards the higher end of the bracket.

For the severe injuries, awards of compensation can range from £36,000 – £130,000. Injuries causing fractures or dislocations or severe damage to soft tissues and/or ruptured tendons that lead to chronic conditions and significant disability of a permanent nature would be at the lower end of the bracket. The more serious of injuries, being those associated with incomplete paraplegia or resulting in permanent spastic quadriparesis or where the injured person, despite wearing a collar 24 hours a day for a period of years, still has little or no movement in the neck and suffers severe headaches which have proved intractable,would attract awards at the higher end of the bracket.

Neck injury case study
  • Bennett v Advantage Insurance Company LTD (2019) the claimant was awarded £2,750. The claimant, a 47-year-old man, received £2,750 for the injuries to the neck and lower back he sustained in a road traffic accident in June 2017 and the travel anxiety he subsequently experienced. He suffered pain, stiffness and discomfort and his activities were restricted but all injuries and symptoms were expected to resolve within eight months from the date of the accident.
  • Young v Liverpool & Victoria Insurance (2017) the claimant, a 63-year-old man, received £7,129 for the neck and shoulder injuries he sustained in a road traffic accident in September 2014 and the mild travel anxiety he experienced. All injuries and symptoms were expected to resolve within 24 months from the date of the accident.

Back injuries

Back injuries are common and can result from damage, wear, or trauma to the bones, muscles, or other tissues of the back. Common back injuries include sprains and strains, herniated discs, and fractured vertebrae. Acute injuries can include injury to the ligaments or muscles in the back, such as a sprain or a strain. The more severe of the back injuries are those of a fracture or dislocation of the spine which can cause a spinal cord injury that may lead to permanent paralysis.

Severe injuries involving damage to the spinal cord leaving the injured person with severe pain and disability with a combination of incomplete paralysis and significantly impaired bladder, bowel and sexual function can attract an award of up to £140,000 for the injury alone. In addition to the injury there will be an award for special losses which will include past and future losses such as all future care and assistance that will be required, any adaptations required to the home, loss of earnings, future loss of earnings etc.

Injuries involving nerve root damage with associated loss of sensation, impaired mobility, impaired bladder and bowel function, sexual difficulties and unsightly scarring can attract awards between £60,000 and £75,000. Cases of disc lesions or fractures of discs or of vertebral bodies or soft tissue injuries leading to chronic conditions where, despite treatment (usually involving surgery), there remain disabilities such as continuing severe pain and discomfort, impaired agility, impaired sexual function, depression, personality change, alcoholism, unemployability and the risk of arthritis can attract an award of between £35,000 and £60,000.

Some injuries less severe than those above, but which leave the injured person with residual disability can attract an award of between £22,000 and £35,000. Examples are a case of a compression/crush fracture of the lumbar vertebrae where there is a substantial risk of osteoarthritis and constant pain and discomfort; that of a traumatic spondylolisthesis with continuous pain and a probability that spinal fusion will be necessary; a prolapsed intervertebral disc requiring surgery or damage to an intervertebral disc with nerve root irritation and reduced mobility.

More minor injuries such as less serious strains, sprains, disc prolapses and soft tissue injuries will attract an award of between £2,000 and £11,000 depending on the duration of symptoms, the extent of treatment received, the impact of the injuries on the injured person’s ability to work, the degree of pain experienced etc. In the case of Anderton v Morgan Sindall Group (2018) the claimant, a 54-year-old man, received £4,750 for the back injury he sustained whilst using a disability seat in a changing room in May 2018. He suffered pain and his activities were restricted but all symptoms were expected to resolve within nine months from the date of the accident.

Back injury case examples
  • W v North Bristol NHS Trust (2016) the claimant, a 39-year-old woman, received £700,000 for the spinal infection suffered following an operation in May 2009 to treat a disc prolapse. She experienced a significant exacerbation of her pre-operative back pain, neurological problems in her legs and right foot, her mobility and independence were reduced and she did not return to work.
  • J v L Ltd (2013) the claimant, a 49-year-old man, received £16,000, for the injury to his lower back sustained during the course of his employment in August 2010. He suffered an aggravation injury casing pain to radiate into his left leg. The pain was ongoing at the point of settlement, almost three years post-accident.
  • Sutton v Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust (2009) the claimant, a 42-year-old man, received £1,600,000 for the neurological injuries sustained after a hospital failed to remove a bulging lumbar disc in September 2005 and instead caused a dural tear. He suffered cauda equina syndrome, had to use a wheelchair and was incontinent of faeces. The claimant was able to walk short distances with crutches indoors but due to decreased lower limb motor function had to use a wheelchair out of doors. He suffered a loss of sensation in his bottom, genitals and legs. He permanently injured his bladder, bowel and sexual function and suffered constant neuropathic pain in both feet and legs which could not be treated. The claimant’s solicitors estimated the damages to include future loss of earnings of £110,000 and future care costs of £800,000.

Shoulder injuries

Common Injuries of the Shoulder are rotator cuff injuries (The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles of the upper arm), frozen shoulder, sprains and arthritis.
The most severe of the shoulder injuries are often associated with neck injuries and involving damage to the brachial plexus resulting in significant disability. These injuries can attract an award of between £15,000 – £42,000.

The less serious injuries are those involving dislocation of the shoulder and damage to the lower part of the brachial plexus causing pain in shoulder and neck, aching in elbow, sensory symptoms in the forearm and hand, and weakness of grip or a fractured humerus leading to restricted shoulder movement. Cases of rotator cuff injury with persisting symptoms after surgery will usually fall within this bracket, as will cases of soft tissue injury where intrusive symptoms will be permanent. These less serious injuries are likely to attract an award of between £10,000 and £16,000.

Cases involving frozen shoulder with limitation of movement and discomfort, and symptoms persisting for about two years, will usually attract awards in the region of £6,000, up to around £11,000. Also soft tissue injuries with more than minimal symptoms persisting after two years but not permanent will fall also into this bracket.

More minor injuries will attract awards between £2,000 and £6,000.

Shoulder injury case examples
  • Bowker v AXA UK PLC (2019) the claimant, a 31-year-old man, received £2,350 for the soft tissue injury to the left shoulder he sustained in a road traffic accident in May 2017. He suffered pain, shock and travel anxiety but the injury and symptoms were expected to resolve within eight months from the date of the accident.
  • PS v Lakehouse Contracts Ltd (2018) the claimant, a 78-year-old woman, received £17,500 for the shoulder injury she sustained when a cupboard fell on her in June 2015, although liability was disputed. She suffered an aggravation of pre-existing asymptomatic tendinopathy, experienced pain and her movements were restricted.
  • JC v Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust (2018) the claimant, a 22-year-old man, received £1,350,000 for the shoulder dystocia he suffered during his birth in August 1996. He sustained a group two left-sided brachial plexus injury which affected his ability to care for himself and carry out household tasks, he was likely to develop arthropathy or tendinopathy within 10 to 30 years, his job prospects were affected and he suffered depression.

Pelvis and hip injuries

Pelvic injuries are usually caused by significant trauma, such as road traffic collisions, falls from height or a crush injury. Due to the location of the pelvis, injuries to other structures, such as major blood vessels, the bladder and/or the bowel may occur. The most severe of these injuries include injuries such as fractures of the pelvis, dislocation of a low back joint, a ruptured bladder, or a hip injury resulting in spondylolisthesis of a low back joint with intolerable pain and necessitating spinal fusion.

Inevitably there will be substantial residual disabilities such as a complicated arthrodesis with resulting lack of bladder and bowel control, sexual dysfunction or hip deformity making the use of a calliper essential; or may present difficulties for natural delivery. Many injuries include a fracture of the acetabulum leading to degenerative changes and leg instability requiring an osteotomy and the likelihood of hip replacement surgery in the future, or the fracture of an arthritic femur or hip necessitating hip replacement.

A common injury is a fracture resulting in a hip replacement which is only partially successful so that there is a clear risk of the need for revision surgery. These severe injuries can attract an award of between £31,000 and £115,000. For the less severe injuries where there has been significant injury to the pelvis or hip, but any permanent disability is not major and any future risk not great, an award of between £21,000 and £35,000 would be expected.

Cases involving hip replacement or other surgery where it has been carried out wholly successfully the award will tend to be in the region of £20,000, and cases where hip replacement may be necessary in the foreseeable future or where there are more than minimal ongoing symptoms can attract awards of between £10,000 and £20,000.

Cases where despite significant injury there is little or no residual disability, or where there has been a complete recovery within two years, the award may but is unlikely to exceed £10,000, with minor soft tissue injuries being unlikely to exceed £3,000.

Arm amputations

The causes for an arm amputation may include diseases such as the blood vessel disease (called peripheral vascular disease or PVD), diabetes, blood clots, or osteomyelitis (an infection in the bones), but they can also be caused by trauma; 75 percent of upper extremity amputations are related to trauma.

Evaluating the value of any amputation injury depends upon many factors including whether the amputation is above or below the elbow (the loss of the additional joint adds greatly to the disability), the extent to which prosthetics can restore function; whether or not the amputation was of the dominant arm; the intensity of any phantom pains; the claimant’s age; the effect on work, domestic and social life.

Loss of both arms would reduce a person to a state of complete helplessness, and as such, would attract an award of between £190,000 and £260,000. However following such injuries you would require lifetime care and assistance, you would no longer have the ability to work therefore you would expect compensation for the loss of earnings you would have suffered following the accident, and any future loss of earnings.

You would require adaptations to your home, and ongoing treatments costs would also be factored in.

Other arms injuries which fall short of amputation but which are extremely serious and leave the injured person little better off than if the arm had been lost, or serious fractures of one or both forearms where there is significant permanent residual disability whether functional or cosmetic, or while there will have been significant disabilities, a substantial degree of recovery will have taken place or will be expected, the award can range from £15,000 to £115,000.

Arm amputation case study
  • For the loss of one arm amputated at the shoulder you would receive no less than £120,000, in addition to the other special losses as discussed above.
  • For an arm amputated above the elbow, a shorter stump may create difficulties in the use of a prosthesis attracting awards of £96,000 to £115,000.
  • Amputation through the forearm with residual severe organic and phantom pains would attract an award of between £84,000 and £96,000.
  • The claimant, a 78-year-old woman, received £6,570 for the hip injury she sustained after being hit by trolleys in a shop in August 2016. The injury exacerbated a pre-existing condition but her hip was expected to return to its pre-accident state within 16 months.