You can suffer a spinal cord injury at work in many ways which includes when you attempt to lift or to move heavier items. You could strain, tear or rip the muscles that support your spine or you may suffer a slipped disc which can be extremely painful and debilitating. According to statistics, injuries to a spine are quite common in the workplace and they often occur because employees and other workers are not given adequate training when it comes to manual handling.
Should you have suffered some kind of injury to your spine and you believe it could have been avoided had you received the right sort of training or because of employer negligence, you could be entitled to file a spinal cord injury at work claim providing your case meets certain criteria, to find out more please read on.
Workplace Spinal Injury Statistics
The charity BackUp published a report regarding spinal and back injuries in the workplace which shows that an estimated 40,000 people sustain this type of injury every year. Back pain and spinal injuries account for many lost working days which could be as a result of the following:
- Spending long hours working on a computer at work
- Long hours at the wheel of a vehicle while at work
- A slip, trip and fall causing damage to your back and spine
- Lifting and moving heavier items in the workplace
If you were not given the correct training to lift and move heavier items or your employer failed to keep you safe and you suffered a spinal cord injury as a consequence of their negligence, you could be entitled to seek compensation from them.
Consequences of Suffering a Spinal Cord Injury at Work
Should you have damaged your back or suffered some form of spinal injury in the workplace, it could mean that you have to take time off work to recover. Not only is an injury to your back extremely painful and debilitating, but not being able to bring in your weekly or monthly wage can add to the stress and anxiety you are already feeling.
Should you be able to prove that your spinal cord injury occurred through employer negligence in the last three years, you could seek compensation for your financial losses as well as the pain and suffering you had to endure.
What You Should Do If You Suffer a Spinal Cord Injury in an Accident at Work
The first and most important thing to do should you have injured your back at work, is to seek medical attention as soon as possible not only to avoid doing further damage to your spine but also to receive medication for any pain and discomfort you may be experiencing. Once you are able, you should gather as much evidence of the accident at work that left you injured as possible.
Should you not be able to do this because your spinal cord injury prevents you from doing so, you should ask a trustworthy work colleague to do this on your behalf. The evidence that would be needed should you wish to file for compensation against your employer, includes the following:
- Witness statements together with their contact details
- Proof that the incident occurred through no fault of your own but rather through employer negligence and this includes when the accident was caused by a work colleague because your employer could still be deemed liable for the injuries you sustained to your back
- Medical reports of the spinal injury you sustained which must be as detailed as possible
- Photos of where the accident at work happened and if available, CCTV footage of the accident
- Photos of your injuries
When filing an accident at work claim against your employer, the more proof you can provide, the stronger your case would be.
How Do I Start a Spinal Cord Injury Claim Against My Employer?
If you are unsure of how to begin a spinal cord injury claim against your employer, the best thing to do is to contact a firm of lawyers who specialise in personal injury claims. A solicitor would have vast experience in handling this type of claim for employees and other people which means that from the outset, your case would be professionally dealt with avoiding all the legal pitfalls that exist. Another benefit in contacting a firm of solicitors as soon as possible, is that they would offer a free, initial, no obligation consultation whether this is in a face-to-face meeting or an in-depth telephone conversation.
Once you can provide the firm of lawyers with all the evidence that is required when filling an accident at work claim and they have been able to assess the strength of your case, they would typically offer to represent you in your claim on a No Win No Fee basis. This takes all the financial stress of how to pay for legal advice and representation out of the equation, leaving you to focus on your spinal cord injury recovery.
What can be Claimed in a Spinal Cord Injury at Work Claim Against an Employer?
If you sustained a spinal cord injury at work and you choose to file a personal injury claim against your employer, there are specific things that can be included which are detailed below:
- Medical expenses incurred as a result of your spinal cord injuries
- Travel expenses that relate to your treatments and therapies
- Care costs whether you have to go into a care home or you require full time home help
- Rehabilitation and ongoing treatments/therapies
- The cost of home adaptations should this be necessary
What Are the Long-term Effects of Spinal Injuries?
Your spine is made up of many bones and should any of them be negatively impacted because you were involved in a workplace accident, it could lead to a catastrophic outcome which includes total paralysis. The long-term effects of having suffered spinal cord injuries in the workplace can be life-changing. As such, you may not be able to work or bring in a much needed wage which would put you and your loved ones, under tremendous financial pressure.
Some of the long-term effects of having suffered a spinal cord injury includes the following:
- Ongoing pain and discomfort
- Stress and anxiety
- Ongoing high medical expenses
- Organ dysfunction more especially bowels and kidneys leading to psychological damage
- Osteoporosis – studies carried out by the Spinal Cord Injury Zone show that should you suffer a spinal injury you are more likely to develop osteoporosis which in turn puts you more at risk of suffering further damage to other bones in your body
What Are the Most Commonly Reported Spinal Cord Injuries?
There are two types of spinal injuries which are as follows:
- Partial spinal injuries
- Complete spinal injuries
The most commonly treated partial spinal injury is when the sensory pathways that are found in the spinal cord are damaged which can lead to you suffering from anterior cord syndrome. This can cause movement and co-ordination issues.
Complete spinal injuries can be catastrophic and as a result could result in total paralysis from the neck down which is referred to as quadriplegia.
How is the Severity of a Spinal Cord Injury Assessed?
The severity of the spinal cord injury sustained in the workplace, would be assessed by a medical professional who would provide a detailed report of how the injuries you suffered to your spine would affect your future life. In short, your spinal injury must be accurately diagnosed by a medical specialist whether the damage is minor or a lot more severe.
A specialist would establish the extent of your injuries and how “treatable” they are whether through long-term therapy or through invasive surgical intervention. Should your spinal cord injury be catastrophic and you are left with partial or total paralysis, the specialist would provide a written report detailing the extent of your injuries and how your future life is negatively impacted. The medical report is crucial when it comes to seeking the right level of spinal cord injury compensation you would be awarded either through the courts, or from your employer’s liability insurance provider with 95% of personal injury claims being settled before they reach the courts.
What Level of Spinal Cord Injury Compensation Could I Receive in a Successful Personal Injury Claim?
The level of spinal cord injury compensation you could receive would depend on the the damage you sustained, how your future life is affected and whether the damage is so catastrophic that you would never be able to work again. All spinal injury claims are treated as being “unique” and as such, the amount could differ from the sum another employee receives for a similar spinal cord injury sustained in the workplace. With this said, the amounts provided below are given as a guideline of how much you may receive and are based on the Judicial Guidelines:
- Minor back injury, you could be awarded up to £10,970
- Moderate injuries, you could receive between £24,340 and £34,000
- Severe injuries, you could be awarded between £79,890 and £141,150
- Paraplegia, you could receive between £192,090 and £249,27
- Tetraplegia (Quadriplegia), you may be awarded between £284,610 and £354,26
As previously mentioned, the amounts provided above are given as a guideline, bearing in mind that all spinal cord injury claims are treated as unique and as such you may receive more or less that the amounts indicated above in a successful claim.
What Can I Include in a Spinal Cord Injury Claim Against a Negligent Employer?
Personal injury claims are calculated in two parts namely, “general damages” and “special damages”. Special damages being a lot easier to work out because they are based on the amount of money you had to pay out as a direct result of having suffered a spinal cord injury in an accident at work.
General damages form the largest part of the compensation you may be awarded in a successful claim and are based on the extent of your injuries and the damage you sustained to your spine. In short, general damages are calculated on the pain and suffering you endured as a result of your injuries following an accident in the workplace.
Should I Sue My Employer If I Suffer a Spinal Cord Injury at Work?
If you sustain any sort of injury or develop a health issue as a result of the work you do, you have the right to seek compensation from your employer who must have liability insurance in place for such eventualities. The level of insurance that your employer holds in a liability policy must also meet the £5 million legal requirement and the insurance company that issues the policy must be a recognised provider. Failure to have the correct liability insurance in place, could lead to your employer receiving hefty fines from an enforcing authority.
What are My Workers Rights Following a Spinal Injury in an Accident at Work?
You have specific worker’s rights which protect you should you sustain a spinal cord injury in a workplace accident. These are as follows:
- To seek compensation for the injuries you sustained from your employer
- To not have to worry about losing your job if you file a personal injury claim against an employer
If an employer treats you unfairly or detrimentally when you tell them of your intentions, you should contact a lawyer because you could be entitled to file other claims against your employer because they would have broken the law when behaving in this way towards you.
What Are My Employer’s Responsibilities Towards Me in the Workplace?
Your employer has to abide by all the laws and legislation that is set in place to keep you safe while you are working for them. Should you be involved in a workplace incident that leaves you suffering from a spinal cord injury because they ignored their duty to ensure you are safe from harm whilst at work, your employer could be held liable and would have to pay you a level of compensation to suit the injuries you sustained through their negligence. An employer’s duty towards you in the workplace includes the following:
- You are given adequate and ongoing training to carry out jobs you are tasked to do and if required, you are provided with the correct personal protective equipment
- That all tools, equipment and other machinery is always maintained in good working order
- That the working environment is routinely assessed to identify hazards so that reasonable measures can be put in place to keep you safe from injury
- You are made aware of all working practices which should be available at all times to all employees
Should your employer have failed in their duty to keep you safe from harm and you suffered a spinal cord injury at work as a result of their negligence, you have the right to seek compensation by filing a personal injury claim against them.
Are There Any Benefits to Working With a Solicitor on a Spinal Cord Injury Claim?
Having the experience of a solicitor work with you on a spinal cord injury claim, offers many benefits, some of which are listed below:
- If you have a strong case against your employer, a solicitor who specialises in accident at work claims would represent you on a No Win No Fee basis
- Solicitors can access legal libraries which means they can use past cases on which they can base your spinal cord injury claim
- An accident at work lawyer is experienced when it comes to communicating with liability insurance providers
- A firm of solicitors are aware of the pre-action protocols that must be adhered to when filing a personal injury claim against an employer
- Accident at work lawyers work hard when it comes to negotiating spinal cord injury compensation
- You would be provided with expert medical assistance, treatments, therapies and rehabilitation when working with a No Win No Fee lawyer
Having an expert lawyer working on your spinal cord injury claim would ensure that all the evidence needed is gathered in a timely manner which reduces the risk of you running out of time. A lawyer would also be respectful of the nature of your case and would organise that you receive specialist after-care should your injuries be so severe that you would need ongoing therapy and rehabilitation.
Is There a Time Limit to Filing a Spinal Cord Injury at Work Claim?
You would have three years to file an accident at work claim against your employer, but the statutory 3 years can begin at different times which are detailed below:
- 3 years from the date of the workplace accident that left you with a spinal cord injury
- 3 years from the date of a health issue diagnosis that can be linked to the initial injury you sustained
- 3 years from your 18th birthday if the workplace accident happened prior to that
It is best to begin a spinal cord injury claim as soon as possible because it can take a long time to gather all the medical reports needed to validate your case against a negligent employer. Because this type of personal injury claim can be complex should your injuries be such that your require long-term ongoing treatment, working with a specialist lawyer would ensure that you receive interim payments until a final spinal cord injury settlement is reached whether through the courts or through negotiation with your employer’s liability insurance provider.
Can My Employer Fire Me For Filing a Spinal Cord Injury Claim Against Them?
You cannot be fired from your job because you seek compensation for a workplace injury you sustained. Should your employer threaten you with the sack or they tell you that you would be made redundant if you file an accident at work claim, your employer would be breaking the law because you have the “right” to seek compensation for any injuries you sustain. If your employer treats you detrimentally in any way, you should contact a lawyer who would provide essential legal advice on whether you could take further legal action out against them.
Would a Solicitor Work on a No Win No Fee Basis on My Spinal Cord Injury Claim?
As previously mentioned, once a firm of lawyers establishes you have a strong spinal cord injury claim against an employer, they would typically work on your case after signing a Conditional Fee Agreement with you which is also known as a No Win No Fee Agreement or CFA. This means the firm of lawyers can begin investigating your claim, communicate with your employer and their liability insurance providers without having to request that you pay them an upfront fee. Another great advantage of working with a No Win No Fee solicitor when filing a spinal cord injury claim, is that there would be no ongoing fees to find as your case progresses through the different stages of negotiation.
A No Win No Fee agreement sets out the percentage that would be payable on a successful claim and the amount which is referred to as a “success fee” is deducted from the spinal cord injury compensation you are awarded which could be through the courts, or through direct negotiation with your employer’s liability insurers should they wish to offer a final settlement “out of court”. All negotiations are best carried out by an experienced accident at work lawyer who would work hard to ensure that you receive an acceptable amount of spinal cord injury compensation.
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