How much compensation can you claim for a leg injury at work?
If you have an injury that affects your legs, hips, knees or ankles it is known as a lower limb disorder. In the workplace these may be caused by either overuse or repetitive strain, or through impact as a result of an accident.
Leg injuries caused by an accident at work
Accidents in the workplace such as slips and trips, falls from height, or an accident involving dangerous machinery or tools often result in leg injuries of varying severity.
Most serious are those requiring amputation, but fractures and dislocations and ruptures to tendons and muscles may also have long term impact on an employee’s life. Sprains and strains may also lead to employees needing time off work to recuperate.
Lower limb disorders caused by overuse
There is evidence to suggest that there are several disorders of the lower limb that can be work-related. These conditions include hip and knee osteoarthritis; knee bursitis, meniscal lesions/tears; stress fracture/reaction injury and varicose veins of the lower legs.
Osteoarthritis occurs in the joints when the cartilage becomes damaged or worn. Miners, floor layers and cleaners have a significantly increased risk of knee arthritis.
Knee bursitis, also known as housemaid’s knee - when the knee becomes swollen with fluid from the joints causing pain and restriction of the movement of the knee - is caused by repetitive kneeling or knee straining activities. Beat knee or hyperkeratosis is an acute and extreme form of bursitis.
Bending or twisting the knee while bearing a load may cause meniscal lesions or damage to occur. Repetitive squatting or kneeling may also cause meniscus injury or damage.
Athletes or military personnel may sustain stress fractures and reaction injuries through regular pounding of the feet through running or marching.
Varicose veins are any dilated subcutaneous veins of the leg, which cause feelings of heaviness, a sensation of swelling of the legs, night-time calf cramps and restless legs. Prolonged standing may increase the symptoms.
Workers may also experience lower limb pain, aching and numbness without a specific disorder being identified. It is possible to claim compensation even in the event that no specific diagnosis is made, and the medical professional conducting your exam will attempt to fully describe your condition and the likely causes and duration of symptoms.
Can I claim compensation for a workplace leg injury?
Through the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, employers have a duty of care to protect the 'health, safety and welfare' at work of all their employees as far as is reasonably practicable.
This includes ensuring that working practices are safe, that employees are trained in the use of equipment and that they are provided with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) where required.
If your injury can be demonstrated to be the result of an accident at work that was not your fault, or because your employer failed to properly assess and address the risks to prevent overuse of your lower limb or to protect it, you may be entitled to claim compensation for your injuries.
How much compensation might I receive?
The compensation you may be awarded depends on the extent and severity of your leg injury and the impact on your life.
Guidelines set out by the Judicial College, which indicate maximum and minimum amounts for each injury, are used by the Court when calculating awards.
For example an injury requiring amputation may result in a maximum award for general damages of £193,000, whereas an injury such as a sprain or strain may be awarded up to £7,000 if it causes huge distress and disruption for the Claimant.
As part of the claim process you would be required to attend an independent medical examination so that the extent of your injuries and their short and long term impact may be assessed.
You will also be able to claim for special damages for out of pocket expenses incurred due to your injury.
- Loss of earnings while you are unable to work
- Loss of future earnings
- Cost of medical care already incurred and the cost of any future treatment
- Travel costs and other expenses arising from the injury
- The cost of any care or assistance you may require
Will your leg injury claim be successful?
If you able to demonstrate that your accident or illness was the result of your employer’s negligence your claim may be successful.
However your employer may also argue that you were partly to blame for your accident if it was caused by you failing to follow the procedures that were in place. The Court may decide to deduct a percentage of your compensation award for "contributory negligence".
If the accident was caused by a colleague then your employer may be held responsible, providing the accident took place during the course of your employment. This is referred to as vicarious liability.