Last updated on January 26th, 2022
Orthopaedic surgery is always carried out by medical professionals and is usually completely successful. However, there are times when treatment can fail and cause the patient to suffer. If that suffering was avoidable, you could be eligible to claim compensation for the pain and suffering that followed.
In this guide to orthopaedic negligence claims, we’ll explain the process of claiming compensation if you’ve suffered because your orthopaedic injury was misdiagnosed, diagnosed too late, or because of a surgical error. As we progress, we’ll show you what amount of compensation could be paid for your suffering.
We are specialists in personal injury and medical negligence claims. As part of our initial free consultation, you’ll receive specialist advice on your options. If there are grounds to continue to a claim, we could refer you to a medical negligence solicitor. Importantly, if they decide to represent you, they’ll work on a No Win No Fee basis. That will make the whole claims process easier for you because you’ll know from the start that only if you are paid compensation will you need to pay for your solicitor’s work.
To learn how the orthopaedic negligence claims process works, please read through the rest of this guide. Alternatively, if you already know that you’d like to start a claim, please contact us on 0800 6524 881.
Table of contents
- What Is An Orthopaedic Injury
- When Are Orthopaedic Negligence Claims Possible?
- Types Of Orthopaedic Negligence That Could Lead To A Claim
- What Compensation Can Be Claimed For Orthopaedic Negligence?
- How Much Compensation For Orthopaedic Injuries?
- Time Limits For Orthopaedic Claims
- Medical Negligence Solicitors & Orthopaedic Claims
Any injury that affects the musculoskeletal system is known as an orthopaedic injury. Orthopaedic injuries can be wide ranging and include:
- Wrist injuries such as strains and sprains
- Ankle injuries
- Broken bones, fractures, and amputations
- Muscle, ligament and tendon injuries
- Spinal injuries
- Dislocation of a joint
- Overuse or repetitive strain injuries
All of these injuries can be painful and have far-reaching consequences. They can affect your mobility temporarily or permanently.
Orthopaedic injuries can be caused in several different ways.
Severe trauma to the bone can cause broken bones, fractures, amputations, or spinal injuries. Muscle, ligament and tendon injuries are typically caused due to overloading accidents, where the affected person carries out strenuous physical work without using proper lifting and carrying aids.
Overuse or repetitive stress injuries at work result from individuals carrying out the same activity non-stop for extended periods of time. This damages the soft tissues.
Medical negligence can result in all sorts of orthopaedic injuries from minor to very serious. These might be caused due to misreading X-rays or misdiagnosis resulting in a delay of appropriate treatment, issues encountered during joint replacement surgery, post-operative infection, faulty equipment or negligence during surgery leading to spinal or nerve damage.
Depending on the severity of the injury, it may even be years before your mobility is fully restored. Most of these injuries do not heal on their own. They require surgery followed by extended periods of physiotherapy to heal completely. Some injuries may cause permanent instability or weakness in the area. It is not uncommon for secondary conditions, such as osteoporosis or osteoarthritis to develop.
If any of these injuries are caused by negligence then a claim for compensation may be pursued.
Some injuries and suffering that are sustained during orthopaedic treatment are unavoidable. In these cases, compensation claims would not be possible. Before your solicitor takes on your claim, they will need to check whether:
- The treatment you received fell below the standard you could reasonably expect (breach of duty); and
- You were injured as a direct result of the breach of duty (causation).
As you can imagine, solicitors cannot prove these things themselves because they are not medical specialists. Therefore, the claims process will involve reports from independent medical experts who’ll use various resources to determine the cause of your injuries.
To prove breach of duty, the Bolam test is applied. This is where a panel of similarly trained medical professionals will review the care and treatment you received. If they believe the defendant acted appropriately, your claim wouldn’t proceed. However, if they suggest they’d have done things differently, you could be due compensation.
When determining causation, it must be proved that the breach of duty was the sole reason for your suffering. That means any underlying conditions you may suffer from will need to be ruled out.
During the orthopaedic claims process, you will need an independent medical assessment. During the appointment, your injuries will be reviewed by a medical expert and they’ll discuss how you’ve been affected. Additionally, they might look through any medical records they’ve been provided with. Once the meeting has concluded, they’ll document their findings and provide a prognosis in a report.
Once all of the above has been completed, your solicitor will review whether you might be eligible to claim compensation. As you can see, there is a lot to do before you proceed to a claim. If the process isn’t followed properly, you could miss out on the compensation you might be entitled to. Therefore, we’d suggest using specialist solicitors like ours who’ve been helping clients claim compensation for decades.
Now it’s time to look at what type of negligence might entitle you to claim compensation for orthopaedic negligence. We have generalised our examples below. Therefore, if you don’t see a scenario matching your own, don’t worry, you could still use us to help you claim.
The general types of claims that you could make include:
- Surgical errors. If a surgeon makes an avoidable error during surgery, you could claim for any orthopaedic injuries you’ve sustained. Similarly, you could claim if you’re the victim of a never event – something that shouldn’t happen if the correct safety procedures were followed.
- Delayed diagnosis. A claim for medical misdiagnosis might be possible if you are examined but your injuries are not diagnosed for some time. This might involve one or more visits to a GP who failed to spot your condition.
- If your condition is diagnosed as the wrong thing, your actual injury could get worse or even become untreatable. Therefore, you could claim for the additional suffering you were forced to endure.
- Failure to refer for tests. Some injuries are not visible to the human eye and might require extra tests like X-rays or MRI scans. If you are not referred for tests after being assessed, you could claim for any extra pain and suffering that resulted.
Any compensation you receive for orthopaedic negligence won’t stop the pain and suffering your injury has caused. However, it could help with the recovery process. Therefore, it’s important that your claim is valued correctly. When you make a claim, it will be separated into two different elements:
- General damages. These are based on how much pain and suffering you had to deal with. Additionally, any loss of amenity could be claimed for as well. For example, if your knee operation was botched and it prevented you from playing football for a few months, this could be considered in your claim.
- Special damages. Here you’ll base your claim on any financial impact that your orthopaedic injury has caused. Importantly, you could claim for any lost income that has resulted because of your injuries. Also, orthopaedic negligence claims could include the cost of mobility aids, travel expenses or private medical treatment.
In general, you could receive compensation for the following:
- General pain and suffering
- Any medical expenses, such as the cost of diagnostic tests and prescription medication, surgery, hospital bills, and long-term rehabilitation treatment
- Cost of all travel related to your treatment including taxi or public transport fares and parking fees
- Cost of making any structural adaptations to your home
- Cost of fitting assistive equipment to your vehicle to facilitate mobility and reduce your dependence on others
- Cost of mobility equipment such as a walker, wheelchair or another device
- Cost of home care if you can no longer manage housework independently
- Costs incurred by relatives or friends who have had to take time out to help and support you during recovery
- Loss of income from being forced to take time off from work
As mentioned above, the claims process may require you to have an independent medical assessment. Therefore, your solicitor will try to book a local appointment for you. The medical expert who assesses you will write a report that details your injuries, their impact, and your future prognosis.
No two injuries are the same so it’s difficult to predict exactly what level of compensation might be paid. However, we’ve used figures for general damages from the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG) to provide a compensation range for several orthopaedic injuries.
Orthopaedic Injury Compensation Amounts
|Neck Injury||Extremely Severe||£45,470 to £148,330|
|Neck Injury||Moderate to Severe||£7,890 to £38,490|
|Neck Injury||Mild||Up to £7,890|
|Shoulder Injury||Severe||£12,770 to £48,030|
|Shoulder Injury||Moderate||£7,890 to £12,770|
|Back Injury||Severe||£38,780 to £160,980|
|Back Injury||Moderate||£12,510 to £38,780|
|Back Injury||Mild||Up to £12,510|
|Elbow Injury||Extremely Severe||£39,170 to £54,830|
|Elbow Injury||Less Severe||£15,650 to £32,010|
|Elbow Injury||Mild||Up to £12,590|
|Hand Injury||Extremely Severe||£140,660 to £201,490|
|Hand Injury||Very Severe||£55,820 to £109,650|
|Hand Injury||Severe||£29,000 to £61,910|
|Hand Injury||Less Severe||£14,450 to £29,000|
|Hand Injury||Moderate||£5,720 to £13,280|
|Wrist Injury||Significant||£22,990 to £36,770|
|Wrist Injury||Very Severe||£47,620 to £59,860|
|Wrist Injury||Less Severe||£12,590 to £24,500|
|Wrist Injury||Moderate||Up to £10,350|
|Wrist Injury||Minor||Up to £7,430|
|Leg Injury||Extremely Severe||£97,980 to £282,010|
|Leg Injury||Moderate to Severe||£27,760 to £96,250|
|Leg Injury||Less Severe||Up to £27,760|
|Foot Injury||Extremely Severe||£83,960 to £201,490|
|Foot Injury||Moderate to Severe||£13,740 to £70,030|
When settling orthopaedic claims, solicitors, insurers, and courts also refer to the figures in the JCG. As well as claiming for physical injuries, claims can also be based on any psychological trauma. Therefore, if your injury has caused depression during your recovery, this could be included in your claim.
Like any other type of compensation claim, orthopaedic negligence claims must be made within the relevant time limit. That means you’ll have 3-years to claim from:
- The date of the negligent act happened; or
- When your injuries were diagnosed.
If your claim is made outside of this window, you could find that it is statute-barred. That means you wouldn’t be able to claim and you’d miss out on any compensation due. Our advice is therefore to begin as quickly as you can.
Not only will that mean your solicitor will have time to gather evidence to back up your claim, but you’ll also find that it’s easier to remember how you’ve been affected. Additionally, if you might benefit from private rehabilitation services, your solicitor could ask for an interim payment to be made to cover the cost.
Please call our team if you’d like to verify how long you have to claim.
As we alluded to earlier, winning a medical negligence claim is never easy. They often require complex medical evidence and a strong understanding of the claims process. To receive a payout, you’ll need to convince NHS Resolution, the organisation that deals with NHS negligence claims, of why the medical professional who treated you was to blame for your injuries.
We believe this process is made a lot easier if you have a solicitor from our team representing you.
If they take on your claim, they will:
- Work for you on a No Win, No Fee basis
- Listen carefully to how you’ve suffered so they understand your case in full.
- Collect medical evidence to try and prove what happened.
- File the claim on your behalf.
- Handle any queries, arguments or objections raised by the defendant to prevent you from having to answer difficult questions.
- Keep you up to date with how the case is progressing.
- Try to negotiate a fairer settlement if a compensation offer is deemed to be too low.
Throughout the claims process, you’ll have access to your solicitor should any questions arise. If you would like to start the ball rolling and begin a claim today, please call us on 0800 6524 881. Our advisors will review your orthopaedic negligence claim and explain your options right away.