Claiming Compensation For Back Pain

Back pain affects nearly everyone at some point during their lives to a greater or lesser degree. It is the principle cause of time off work generally, and also accounts for the majority of the long-term unemployed who claim incapacity benefit. The back is a complicated structure consisting of bones and soft tissues which together protect the spinal cord – the essential connection and transmitter of impulses or ‘messages’ between the brain and the body. The back controls all physical movement in the body, and severe back pain is therefore often completely incapacitating. In the majority of cases back pain is not a symptom of any serious damage or permanent condition; it is normally the result of a minor strain or sprain which clears up in a matter of days. Where back pain is acute (lasting more than a few days) or chronic (lasting over three months), the effects are more tangible on an individual’s day-to-day and working life. Apart from pain and suffering these may include loss of earnings and ongoing medical expenses. Where back pain in these circumstances has been caused by the negligence of an employer an injured person should take specialist legal advice and consider seeking compensation for the effects that the back pain has had on them.

Back pain at work is usually the result of lifting heavy weights or adopting prolonged stress positions which place strain on the spine. Pain may develop over time from the performance of repetitive tasks, or may occur immediately following the lifting of an excessive weight or an accident such as a fall from height. It is estimated that around three quarters of workers with jobs involving manual handling sustain back pain that requires a trip to the doctor at some point in their careers. Constant pressure from employers to maximise productivity and output undoubtedly contributes to this trend. Various pieces of legislation aim to minimise the risks of back pain and back injuries among workers. The most important general rules are embodied in the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 which requires employers to risk assess all manual handling tasks, and generally to avoid them if a suitable alternative exists (such as mechanised lifting). It imposes legal limits as to weights which male and female workers may lift, depending on the distance of the object being lifted from the body. It further requires that employees are fully trained in how to lift and carry heavy objects safely.

Compensation awards for back injuries vary enormously depending on the severity of an injured person’s condition. Awards are normally made up of two parts; general damages, which seek to compensate a person for pain and suffering caused by their injury, and special damages, which aim to restore a person to the financial state they were in prior to their injury, or that which they would have been in had the injury not occurred. General damages for a strain or sprain which heals fully within about two years are unlikely to exceed 5,000. Moderate back injuries, where some sort of permanent residual disability exists along with the possibility of future complications will lead to awards of between 17,750 and 24,750. At the other end of the scale, compensation for serious back injuries depends both on the level of disability caused, and the side-effects resulting from the disability. These may include sexual difficulties, loss of control of bodily functions, and the need for future surgery. Awards may exceed 100,000 in such cases, and will rise far higher where total or partial paralysis is involved.

Bartletts Solicitors are specialists in claiming compensation for back pain from work. Any employee who has been injured at work may claim. We will claim compensation for work accidents on a no win no fee basis meaning that if you win your claim you will keep 100% of damages awarded. If you are interested to read more about back pain compensation then please visit our website www.workrelatedinjury.co.uk

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