Broken Back Compensation Claims In The UK

By Daniel Pike. Last Updated 16th November 2022. Have you suffered a broken back injury such as a spinal or vertebral fracture? Was the injury caused by an accident that wasn’t your fault? If so, you may be entitled to claim broken back compensation for your injury. 

Broken Back Compensation Claims

broken back compensation

How to claim broken back compensation

Back injuries can be caused by many different types of accidents. They can also have a hugely negative effect on a person’s quality of life depending on how severe the injury is. Therefore, any compensation which could be gained due to your injury could prove very helpful as a part of your recovery.

In this guide, we’ll talk about the crucial steps required for making a broken back compensation claim. We’ll also explain how we could potentially assist you with making a personal injury claim.

Get In Touch With Our Team

You can contact UK Law for free specialist advice on claiming compensation for a back injury. Our advisors can assist with any queries you may if you’re considering this type of personal injury claim.

You can reach us online through our live chat service, or by using either our online claim form or our call back form. To phone us instead, you can reach our advisors by calling 020 3870 4868

Services And Information

  1. Everything You Need To Know About Broken Back Compensation Claims
  2. What Is A Broken Back Injury?
  3. Spinal And Back Bone Anatomy
  4. Broken Back Symptoms
  5. What Could Cause A Spinal Injury Or Broken Back?
  6. Calculating Broken Back Compensation Claims
  7. Diagnosing And Treating Spinal Fractures
  8. What Happens If A Spinal Fracture Is Missed?
  9. Why Do Medical Diagnostic Errors Happen?
  10. What Limitation Period Could Affect Your Claim?
  11. I Broke My Back Or Fractured My Spine, What Should I Do?
  12. Compensation For A Back Injury – No Win No Fee Lawyers
  13. Contact Us For More Help
  14. Related Services
  15. FAQs On Broken Back Compensation Claims

Everything You Need To Know About Broken Back Compensation Claims

A back injury can come in many different forms. Their severity can range from mild symptoms to serious life-altering effects. A wide range of different accidents can cause a back injury. They may occur as a result of a road traffic accident or a workplace accident. They can also be caused by accidents in a public place.

Whatever exactly causes you to suffer a back injury, a key question to ask is whether another party that owed you a duty of care is liable for your injury. If you can establish with evidence that someone else caused an accident you were in through negligence, and that accident caused your back injury, then you could have a strong case to claim compensation.

Within this guide, we’ll explain more about how a broken back injury could happen and what symptoms may occur. We’ll also explain how back injuries may be treated and diagnosed. We will also discuss potential cases where a back injury is misdiagnosed and how you may be able to claim for this. Also, we will talk about how time limits for broken back claims usually work and how compensation may be calculated.

What Is A Broken Back Injury?

The term ‘broken back’ usually refers to a fracture injury affecting one or several of the bones which make up the spine. The spine is made up of a series of bones (each known as a vertebra) and these are categorised into several sections.

Therefore, there are more specific terms that may be applied to a back fracture. It depends on which area of the spine is affected. More specific terms for a broken back can include the following:

  • Lumbar Spinal Fractures – This refers to fractures that affect the lower back area of the spinal column.
  • Thoracic Spinal Fractures – This term may be applied to spinal bone fractures in the mid-back region.
  • Cervical Spinal Fractures – These types of fractures affect the part of the spine which runs from the base of the brain to the top of the shoulders.

This is not the only way a back fracture may be identified. The way a bone in the spine becomes fractured is also categorised under different terms. These include the following:

  • Flexion Fracture
  • Compression Fracture
  • Axial Burst Fracture
  • Extension Fracture
  • Rotation Fracture
  • Transverse Process Fracture
  • Fracture-dislocation

broken back statistics graph

The graph above comes from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and their summary of UK workplace accident statistics for 2020. It shows the number of workers who were reported to have suffered work-related musculoskeletal disorders during the period of 2019/2020.

It divides the reports into the different areas of the body which were affected. More than a third (37%) of the reported work-related disorders affected the backs of injured employees.

Spinal And Back Bone Anatomy

The spine (or backbone) is the central support structure for our bodies. It plays a critical role in allowing us to walk, stand, sit, twist and bend. Therefore, any injuries to this part of the body can potentially have major effects on your everyday activities and quality of life.

The anatomy of the spine combines bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons and highly sensitive nerves. All of these parts work together and allow the spine to be both incredibly strong and highly flexible. However, a person’s mobility can be seriously hampered if any one of these parts gets damaged. 

The term ‘broken back’ usually refers to when one or several bones which make up the spine get fractured. The bones in the spine are naturally strong in normal circumstances. However, fractures or dislocations in the spine bones are possible.

They can happen if any of them are subjected to a high enough level of stress or force. Bones in the spine and other areas of the body can also become weaker as you get older. They can also be weakened by certain conditions such as osteoporosis.

Broken Back Symptoms

The symptoms of a broken back can vary. It largely depends on where exactly the spinal fracture has occurred and how severe it is. The symptoms can include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Back pain
  • Bowel and bladder problems
  • Muscle spasms
  • Neck pain
  • Numbness around the back or neck
  • Tingling sensations

In the most severe cases, a broken back can lead to paralysis, which means loss of movement in the arms and/or legs. This can happen if the spinal cord is damaged.

The severity of a spinal cord injury may be classed as incomplete or complete. Incomplete means you retain some motor or sensory function below the affected area. Complete means all feeling and ability to move is lost below where the spinal cord injury has occurred.

Paralysis caused by a spinal cord injury may be referred to as paraplegia if it affects all or part of your movement in the lower half of your body. Tetraplegia or quadriplegia refers to when all or part of your movement is lost in all areas below the neck.

What Could Cause A Spinal Injury Or Broken Back?

The causes of a back injury can include certain medical conditions or as the result of an accident. Various types of accidents can create or aggravate a broken back. Examples include:

Following any of these types of accidents, it’s possible that negligent behaviour from a party that owed you a duty of care may have contributed to the incident. For example, while you are at work, your employer owes you a duty of care to keep you safe. That means your employer should take reasonable steps to minimise the risk of you suffering harm while at work.

If, however, your employer breaches their duty of care, then this could create an avoidable hazard that ultimately leads to an accident that injures your spine.

Calculating Broken Back Compensation Claims

You may have questions about how much compensation you could receive if you make a successful claim for a broken back injury. In truth, it is tricky to guess how much you could receive for your claim at this stage because of the various factors which have to be considered.

The injuries you’ve suffered, how severe they are and how they’ve impacted your life is all taken into account. Therefore, compensation payouts can vary a lot if you were to compare different broken back claims.

The table below shows compensation brackets for different types of back injuries. The compensation brackets come from the Judicial College guidelines and they are based on payouts made in past cases. These figures do not offer any sort of guarantee on how much you’ll be compensated for your back injury. However, they can offer some idea of the general amount which may be offered depending on how severe your injury is.

Severe Back Injury (i)Cases of the most severe injury involving damage to the spinal cord and nerve roots£91,090 to £160,980
Severe Back Injury (ii)May include nerve root damage and impaired mobility£74,160 to £88,430
Severe Back Injury (iii)Spinal discs or spine bones are damaged, leading to disabilities such as severe pain£38,780 to £69,730
Moderate Back Injury (i)Applies to many injuries which may cause relatively moderate disabilities£27,760 to £38,780
Moderate Back Injury (ii)Can apply to many injuries which disturb ligaments, muscle or soft issue£12,510 to £27,760
Minor Back Injury (i)Full recovery or a recovery to nuisance level takes place within about 2-5 years£7,890 to £12,510
Minor Back Injury (ii)Full recovery takes place without surgery between three months and two yearsUp to £7,890
Minor Back Injury (iii)Full recovery is made within three monthsUp to £2,450

Back Injury Compensation Payouts – Other Examples

The back injury compensation examples shown above relate to general damages. In other words, they are awarded for the pain and suffering caused by your injuries.

The other head of claim you could be eligible to receive is known as special damages. This figure could reimburse you for financial losses that your injuries have caused. For example:

  • Medical costs
  • Loss of earnings
  • Travel costs
  • Adaptations to your home
  • Walking aids

You will need evidence to support this, such as receipts or payslips. To find out more about back injury claims or back injury compensation and the payouts you could receive, get in touch with our advisors today.

Diagnosing And Treating Spinal Fractures

If you are experiencing any symptoms of a spinal fracture, then it’s important to see a medical professional who can diagnose you as soon as possible. When you see a doctor about your symptoms, they will ask you questions about them and assess your back.

Your ability to sit, stand, walk and lift your legs will also likely be checked. These assessments can help determine where your pain is coming from and how restricted your mobility is. Such checks may also rule out more serious causes of back pain.

If there is reason to suspect that a fracture or another condition is causing your back pain, then the medical expert examining you may order one or several of the following tests:

  • An X-ray
  • An MRI scan or CT scan
  • Blood test
  • Bone scan
  • Electromyography (EMG) to study the nerves and response of your muscles

If you are diagnosed with a spinal fracture, then there are numerous treatments which may be considered. The most suitable ones will depend on how serious your injury is. Surgery may prove necessary on affected areas of the spine, but not in all cases. Non-surgical methods of treatment may include the following:

  • Pain relief medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Physical therapy
  • Back bracing (a back brace may be fitted to limit the movement of fractured spine bones)
  • Adjustments to physical activity (to help with acute pain, a temporary period of bed rest may be recommended)

What Happens If A Spinal Fracture Is Missed?

If you have a spinal fracture, then it is important to get your condition diagnosed properly by a medical professional. However, there is a small possibility that a medical expert or hospital could miss your condition when you visit them about your symptoms.

If you are unfortunate enough to experience this, then this can lead to various issues. They can include ongoing pain, incorrect healing of the fracture and the development of further health issues.

A delay in being treated for a spinal fracture because of a missed diagnosis could mean that treatment will need to be more extensive than if it started earlier.

Why Do Medical Diagnostic Errors Happen?

There are certain mistakes a medical professional may make while examining your broken back symptoms. Errors could be made during different stages of your medical assessment. Examples include the following:

  • Your symptoms may be mistaken for a different kind of injury or condition.
  • An X-ray may not have been offered when it could have provided insight into your injury.
  • An X-ray did take place, but either it wasn’t done properly or the results were misinterpreted.
  • The medical professional examining you did not arrange for you to have an MRI or CT scan which could have confirmed your injury.

When you see a medical professional such as a doctor about health issues, they owe you a duty of care. As part of their duty of care, they are responsible for examining you, prescribing any treatments and referring you to a specialist for extra tests if warranted. Medical professionals should do all that can reasonably be expected to diagnose and treat any health issues that you have. Despite this, that, unfortunately, doesn’t eliminate the possibility that a condition you have could be missed or misdiagnosed.

If you do experience a spinal fracture misdiagnosis, then you may be able to claim compensation for this. You will, however, need to prove that the medical professional who misdiagnosed your condition breached their duty of care towards you. To do this, you’ll need to establish that they failed to take all the reasonable steps they could have taken to identify your injury sooner.

What Limitation Period Could Affect Your Claim?

The usual time limit for starting a broken back compensation claim is three years from the date of the accident which caused your injury. Sometimes, however, a back injury is not identified until some time after the accident occurred. If this applies to you, then the three-year time limit starts from the day your broken back could be diagnosed and you knew it was the fault of a third party, like your employer. This is known as the date of knowledge.

Under some circumstances, the three-year time limit for starting a claim may be frozen for at least a temporary period. For instance, it can be put on hold for children who suffer a fractured back. The three-year time limit does not start for children who had their back injured in an accident until the day they turn 18.

A compensation claim can’t be started by an injured child before they reach their 18th birthday. However, a claim could possibly be started before their 18th birthday on their behalf by a representative known as a litigation friend. This representative could be someone close to the child, such as a parent or guardian.

The three-year time limit for claiming for a broken back is also put on hold if the victim lacks the mental capacity to act on their own behalf. In such cases, a claim could potentially be started by a litigation friend representing the injured party. If at some point, the injured party regains enough mental capacity to make their own decisions, then the three-year time limit for claiming starts from the day this occurs.

I Broke My Back Or Fractured My Spine, What Should I Do?

If you are suffering symptoms associated with a broken back, then you should go to a medical professional or hospital as soon as possible. It’s important to get your condition diagnosed and treated quickly to give yourself the best chance possible of a full recovery.

If your injury occurred in an accident caused by a party that owed you a duty of care, then you may be considering starting a compensation claim against that party. If you are, then it would be useful to gain medical evidence of the treatment you receive for your injury. Evidence can include discharge letters and medical notes from a doctor.

If you wish to pursue the possibility of a claim, then you should work towards gathering other evidence. For safety, only start this once you’ve sufficiently recovered from your injuries. Other evidence which may be available will depend on what type of accident caused your injury. Available evidence may include witness contact details, photos of the accident and your injuries and security camera footage.

When you’ve finished gathering the available evidence, you could then consider hiring a solicitor who can support your claim. If you choose to hire one, we recommend picking a solicitor who has previous experience in handling broken back compensation claims.

A solicitor you approach to support your potential case will review the incident details and evidence available. If the solicitor is confident about your case, you could then sign an agreement with them. From here, the solicitor you’ve hired can guide you through the remaining steps required to process your claim.

Compensation For A Back Injury – No Win No Fee Lawyers

Some solicitors can offer their services on a No Win No Fee basis. This can be helpful if you are concerned about the costs of hiring legal help.

A No Win No Fee solicitor can help you claim compensation for your back injury, and you generally will not need to pay them an upfront fee for their work.

If you receive compensation in a successful claim, they will charge a success fee, which is taken as a small, legally capped percentage of your compensation. If your claim does not succeed, you will not be required to pay them.

Please reach out now to learn more about how you could work with such a solicitor, or to receive more information about spinal injury compensation payouts in the UK.

Contact Us For More Help

You can contact UK Law today for advice on making a personal injury claim. Our advisors can assist with any queries you may have about claims for a broken back. You can contact us through the following methods:

Related Services

At UK Law, we have guides on claiming compensation for other types of fracture injuries. You can check out other fracture claim guides through the links below:

We also offer guides on different types of personal injury claims, such as the examples below:

FAQs On Broken Back Compensation Claims

In this final section of our fractured back injury guide, we’ve answered some commonly asked questions regarding this subject.

My child was injured, what do I do?

If your child has suffered a broken back in an accident, then your first priority should be getting them the treatment they require. If their injury was caused by a liable party that owed your child a duty of care, then you may be able to claim compensation from them on your child’s behalf.

Will my case go to court?

If you start a compensation claim, then there is the possibility that your case could end up in court. However, it’s very unlikely. It depends on whether or not an agreement can be reached between you and the defendant. If you hire a solicitor to support your claim, then they may be able to negotiate an agreement with the defendant and their legal representative. Your solicitor may end up starting court proceedings if an agreement can’t be achieved between all parties involved. Even if a date is set for court proceedings, an agreement could be reached before they become necessary.

How long do court cases take?

If your personal injury claim ends up in court, then the amount of time it could take to be resolved can vary. It largely depends on how severe the injuries involved are and how complex they make the case. More straightforward cases may be resolved in 9 to 12 months. More complex cases could take longer before they are concluded.

Can I get an interim payout?

If your case centres on particularly severe injuries which have put you under a lot of financial pressure, then it may be possible to receive one or several interim payments before your case is resolved. Interim payouts can help cover your costs before your claim is resolved. You are more likely to receive interim payouts if the defendant admits liability or the case is likely to go your way.

Thank you for reading our guide about broken back compensation claims.

Guide by ZS

Edited by BER