How much compensation can you claim for an arm injury at work?
According to provisional RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations) data from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) there were around 28,400 reported workplace injuries to upper limb in 2014/15.
These included hand injuries to the fingers and thumbs, hand, wrist and general "upper limb" injuries. Although injuries such as these are decreasing as employers and employees become better aware of health and safety practices, injuries still average around 100 per day.
In addition to arm injuries caused by accidents at work it is estimated that more than 350,000 people in the UK have an upper limb disorder (ULD) caused or made worse by their work. Usually caused by jobs that require repetitive work or sustained or excessive force, ULDs may also develop through poor working environments or uncomfortable working postures. ULDs include carpal tunnel syndrome and repetitive strain injuries (RSI).
How do regulations attempt to reduce the risk of arm injuries?
All employers have a duty of care to protect the 'health, safety and welfare' at work of their workforce as far as is reasonably practicable.
The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 requires employers to ensure safe working practices, which include carrying out risk assessments, training employees in the safe use of equipment and tools, and providing them with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) where required.
If your arm is injured in an accident or you develop an upper limb disorder as a result of your employer failing to follow health and safety regulations and advice, or properly address any risks, you may be entitled to claim compensation from him for your injuries.
Calculating compensation for a workplace arm injury
The principle of personal injury compensation is that it should return you the financial position you would have been in had the injury never happened. Therefore, as part of the claim process you will be required to undergo an independent medical examination to assess the extent of your injuries and the likely impact on your life. This will be conidered as part of the evidence so that a compensation amount can be calculated.
Some arm injuries and disorders may have life-changing consequences for the individual who has sustained them and the compensation award guidelines set by the Judicial College reflect this.
For example, amounts for severe injuries including amputations above the elbow may attract general damages awards of between £83,325 and £99,500.
In assessing your compensation, as well as the general damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity, the Court will examine the financial losses you have or will incur due to your injuries.
For example, whilst a fracture to your forearm may not be life-changing (and therefore general damages awards may be lower than for more serious injuries), you may require lengthy physiotherapy to restore full function to the muscles of your arm, leaving you unable to work or carry out certain tasks for a period of time.
This would be reflected in the special damages awards which would calculate amounts for:
- lost earnings from time taken off work
- any future loss of earnings if you are unable to return to work
- the cost of medical treatment (such as physiotherapy)
- The cost of additional help and care (for any tasks you were unable to carry out due to your injuries)
- expenses such as travel costs to and from hospital
Will your arm injury claim be successful?
For your claim to be successful, your solicitor will need to demonstrate that your accident or illness was the result of your employer’s negligence.
If the evidence, including witness statements, photos and accident reports, suggests that your employer failed in their duty of care, they are likely to be found negligent.
If your employer is able to argue that you were partly to blame for the accident because you failed to follow the procedures that were in place, the Court may deduct a percentage of your compensation award as it may judge you contributed to your injuries. This is known as contributory negligence.
If another member of staff ignored safety protocols and caused a forklift truck accident, for example, and you sustained an arm injury as a result, you may still have a claim. Your employer may be found vicariously liable for your injuries if they were caused by another colleague’s actions during the course of your employment.