How much compensation can you claim for a shoulder injury at work?

Shoulder injuries range in severity from minor strains and overuse injuries to frozen shoulder, dislocations and severe mobility impairment. They are relatively common in a workplace setting and are usually caused by heavy lifting, operating heavy machinery or repetitive motion.

Shoulder injuries might also be caused by everyday work activities that are not particularly strenuous. Those who routinely carry out overhead work are more at risk of developing a shoulder injury and are advised to take precautions.

If you injure your shoulder while at work, you may be entitled to claim compensation. The amount you receive will depend on the type and seriousness of your injury and how it impacts your day-to-day life.

Duties of the employer

Employers have a legal duty to assess the risk of injury in the workplace and to mitigate that risk.

For example, some shoulder injuries may be alleviated by:

  • Modifying your work habits
  • Providing ergonomic work equipment
  • Providing mechanical lifting aids
  • Reducing the amount of lifting and stretching you do
  • Ensuring you have the appropriate safety training.

Employers who fail to take precautions to ensure your safety may be regarded as negligent and responsible for your injuries. The courts almost always will find the employer negligent if it breaches a specific health and safety provision such as those set out in the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992.

Shoulder injury compensation amounts

"General damages" refers to compensation for the pain and suffering caused by your shoulder injury. The amount you will receive will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • The nature of the injury
  • How serious the injury is, for example, whether surgery is required
  • The impact on your life.

To help claimants assess the value of their compensation claim, the Judicial College has published a set of guidelines for general damages awards. The Guidelines are essentially a distillation of the damages previously awarded by the courts in personal injury cases.

While not legally binding, the Guidelines are widely adopted as the starting point for negotiating personal injury settlements.

The following will give you some idea of the average shoulder injury payouts under the Guidelines:

  • Fractured clavicle: £3,900 to £9,300
  • Frozen shoulder injury: £6,000 to £9,700
  • Serious shoulder dislocation with long-term pain: £9,700 to £14,600
  • Severe brachial plexus injury: £14,600 to £36,500.

What other expenses can you claim for?

As well as damages for pain and suffering, you are entitled to recover the financial losses associated with your injury, known as "special damages."

These might include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Travel expenses, for example, additional bus fares while you are not able to drive
  • Lost wages
  • The cost of purchasing special equipment, for example, mobility aids
  • The cost of help with household chores during your recovery, such as cleaning

This is not an exhaustive list. Almost any reasonable expense incurred due to the accident can be claimed as special damages as long as you have proof of the expenditure.