Compensation Claims for Personal Injury to the Back
There are large numbers of compensation claims for accidental back injuries every year and back injuries can occur in many different sets of circumstances. Back injuries are often sustained in car accidents, motorcycle accidents and accidents involving pedestrians. Older people often suffer serious back injuries in slipping and tripping accidents in the street and in shops and stores. However, the greatest preponderance of back injuries is caused by accidents resulting in personal injury at work. Back pain may be relatively short term lasting for a few weeks when it is known as acute or chronic when symptoms persist for a longer period. Back injuries, both acute and chronic, account for a huge number of absences from work and lost man hours each year.
Back Injury at Work
Personal injury at work claims often feature personal injury to the back. This may be, for example, due to lifting heavy objects. When a heavy object is lifted, increased pressure is put on the lumbar spine. If the weight is lifted incorrectly and it is positioned too far in front of the spine, the back muscles have to exert a tremendous force to keep the body upright. This can cause the muscles to strain or tear or result in a hernia damaging a disc. Clearly, there is a risk of serious personal injury giving rise to the possibility of a compensation claim if it was inappropriate to lift a heavy weight or inadequate equipment or training was provided for the purpose.
Employers must ensure that any lifting, pulling, pushing or moving tasks at work comply with The Manual Handling Operations Regulations of 1992 (as amended). These establish a clear hierarchy of measures for dealing with risks from manual handling and these are, firstly, avoid hazardous manual handling operations so far as reasonably practicable; secondly, assess any hazardous manual handling operations that cannot be avoided; and, thirdly, reduce the risk of injury so far as reasonably practicable.
Remember back injuries are not always the result of single traumatic event. Continuous unnecessary and avoidable strain on the back can lead to a deterioration of the muscles and damage to discs and bones and extremely painful symptoms. If the employer failed to assess risk and take the necessary precautions, it would be liable to pay compensation.
Back Injury at Home
Accidents in the home often result in personal injury to the back. Where someone else was to blame for your accident, you may make a claim for personal injury. The variety of circumstances that can result in accidents in the home is infinite. Just by way of simple example, you may climb a stepladder to change a light bulb. If the ladder collapses or topples over due to faulty manufacture, you may well land on your back and suffer very serious personal injury and you may be entitled to make a personal injury claim against the manufacturer, the retailer or the importer of the ladder.
Back Injury in Shops and Stores
Any sudden and rapid fall to the ground may cause back injury and it will come as no surprise that there are many instances of customers suffering back injuries when tripping over carelessly discarded materials or slipping on liquids and foods spilled or dropped on the floors of supermarkets and other stores each year. Anyone injured in those circumstances may be entitled to compensation. It is important, that the fall and injury is brought to the attention of the store immediately and the accident is reported in their accident book. You should, at least, visit your family doctor as soon as possible and heed any advice he may give you.
Non accidental Back Injury
Of course, it is not in every case that back pain or injury to the back will give rise to a claim for personal injury. In fact, it is believed that as much as 80 percent of back pain can be attributed to lack of exercise and poor physical fitness. Strong muscles, especially the abdominal muscles, support the back and help distribute weight when heavy weights are lifted. Back and abdominal muscles that have lost their flexibility and strength cause more stress to be placed on the ligaments. Excess body weight, which is often carried in a person's abdomen, also puts extra strain on the lower back. Being overweight can make it more difficult to exercise and keep the muscles in the back and abdomen strong and flexible. Of course, certain sports and activities may be associated with back pain and injury.
Treatment for Back Injury
It is always vital to get medical help as soon as possible. In extreme cases, where there is and obvious and serious injury to the back, the emergency services should be called and the back stabilised and immobilised. You should consult your family doctor at least and, subject to any advice, consider taking anti-inflammatories and ice the area of pain for the first 72 hours to ease pain and reduce swelling. Beyond that, adequate rest is probably the most effective treatment. Chiropractic massage may be very helpful and this may be available privately almost immediately where there is an admission of liability.
The guidelines issued by the Judicial Studies Board for back injuries tell us that compensation awards will range from about £4000 to about £90,000.
To claim compensation for back injuries, call Accident Aid on 0800 180 4780 or forward your query without any obligation to Accident Aid by email and you will be contacted by an accident injury lawyer who will advise as to whether you may be entitled to claim compensation for your injury and any other losses you may have sustained.