Most common causes of back injury

Different types of back injury

How much compensation can you claim for a back injury?

How to avoid back injuries at work

Who is the most likely to experience a work related back injury?

What are the secrets to avoiding these injuries?

Are you eligible to claim?

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Back injuries can vary in severity, from someone feeling discomfort for just a few days to others being permanently disabled or suffering from back pain their whole life. The back, in particular, the spine, is extremely complex and made up of three parts:

the cervical spine (the upper part, usually referred to as the neck)
the thoracic spine (the middle part) 
the lumbar spine (the lower part)

The spine consists of a total of 24 different bones, as well as tendons, ligaments, discs, nerves, muscles and, of course, the spinal cord. A back injury can occur if just one of these become damaged. If you suffer from a back injury as a result of an accident that wasn’t your fault, you could be entitled to make a back injury claim for compensation.

Most common causes of back injury

Road traffic accidents

Perhaps the most common cause of a back injury claim is whiplash – which is usually caused by a road traffic accident. A whiplash injury typically occurs when the head is thrown forwards or backward – causing damage to the neck or cervical spine. As well as whiplash, car accidents can also cause injuries to the mid and lower back due to the large forces involved.

Accidents at work

Lifting heavy objects at work can lead to serious back injuries if correct safety and training procedures haven’t been adhered to. The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 define manual handling as: “...any transporting or supporting of a load (including the lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving thereof) by hand or bodily force". If these regulations haven’t been followed by your employer and you suffer a back injury as a result, you could be entitled to make a claim for compensation.
>>> Read our Health and Safety at Work guide
>>>

Slips, trips, and falls

Slips and trips are a very common cause of back injuries, with the jarring impact leading to a number of different injuries. Slips and trips are typically the results of wet floors, defective surfaces or debris – all of which should be clearly signposted to avoid accidents. Falls from a great height are also a common cause of back injury, for example falling from scaffolding or a crane at work, or from a horse or even down a lift shaft. These types of accidents should be minimised by strict health and safety guidelines, so if you suffer an injury from such a fall you could be entitled to make a claim for compensation.
>>> Find out more about slips, trips, and falls
>>>

Medical negligence

Because it is so complex, operations on the spine are very complicated. If such an operation is not performed correctly and leads to lasting damage then you could be entitled to make a claim for compensation.
>>> Learn how to make a claim for medical negligence
>>>

Faulty/defective products

Defective or faulty products like chairs, stools or ladders can all cause back injuries if they break when in use.
>>> Learn more about what to do if you are injured by faulty products
>>>

Different types of back injury

There are many different ways in which your back can be injured, these include Slipped disc This is a common ‘catch-all’ term for describing more specific injuries such as a ‘herniated disc’ and ‘prolapsed disc’. The pain resulting from this type of injury is caused by the disc pressing on nerves or on the spinal cord itself. Broken neck/back A broken or fractured spine or neck can lead to permanent disability and even death, particularly if damage has been caused to the spinal cord. Another bone that is often broken in the back is the coccyx or ‘tail bone’. Soft tissue injuries These include damage to ligaments, muscles, nerves, and tendons in the back – which can cause pain if bruised. Whiplash is perhaps the most common form of soft tissue injury. If you have suffered a back injury following an accident that wasn’t your fault, contact us today to learn more about how we can help...

How much compensation can you claim for a back injury?**

There are many different factors to take into account when determining how much back injury compensation you could be entitled to. We’ve listed some example figures below taken from our personal injury compensation calculator: Severe back injury: £29,475 to £112,350:

  • Most severe injury: £69,200 – £122,350
  • Cases with special features taking them outside the lower bracket:£56,375 – £67,200
  • Disc lesions/fractures of disks/ soft tissue injury with chronic conditions:£29,475 – £53,000

  Moderate back injury: £9,500 to £29,475:

  • Residual disability less than severe:£21,100 – £29,475
  • Disturbance of ligaments/prolonged exacerbation/prolapsed discs etc…:£9,500 – £21,100

  Minor back injury: A few hundred pounds – £9,500:

  • Full recovery or recovery to nuisance level within 2-5 years:£6,000 – £9,500
  • Full recovery between 3 months and two years: £1,860 – £6,000
  • Full recovery within 3 months: a few hundred pounds – £1,860

  ** Information taken from Judicial College Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases – 13th Edition. - please note that these figures are for guidance only and the compensation that you receive may be outside of these guidelines.

Please note:  The exact compensation payout amount depends on how severe the original back is injury, the degree of pain experienced, the extent of any medical treatment needed in the past or potentially in the future and the impact the injury has had on the claimant's ability to function in daily life. For more information, see our personal injury compensation payout guide
>>>

How to avoid back injuries at work

Did you know that back injuries are the most common work based injuries in the UK? What’s more, back pain is estimated to cost Britain around £5 billion per year! Follow our guide to make sure you don’t become a victim… Most of us know that to lift something safely, we need to bend our knees. And whilst you know that there is a limit to the amount that you can lift safely, there might come a time when you’re alone in the office, you don’t want to disturb your co workers, so as just a one off you go and lift something heavy… The next thing you know, you injure your back and suffer from days, weeks, even years of discomfort and pain. Even though back injuries are the most single common work-based injuries recorded in the UK and around the world, they are almost always avoidable. There are guidelines and rules in place in order to protect employees from injuries. If employers ignore these rules they risk severe penalties. Employers have a duty to ensure that employees are taught the relevant work safety practices. This includes lifting limits for both men and women. However, employees also have a duty to seek out the information and put it into practice for themselves. A back injury can arise from a single error of judgment, but it can leave you in agony for days, weeks, months and years. It is in everyone’s best interest to avoid.

Who is the most likely to experience a work related back injury?

You might think that nurses are at the most risk of injury due to lifting heavy patients each day. But nurses have specialist manual handling training and are taught the safest way to lift, what their limits are and can identify specific aids to help them. The same applies to sports people and dancers, as they rarely experience back injury.

What are the secrets to avoiding these injuries?

Exercise is a good way to avoid a back injury in the first instance. If you have an inactive lifestyle or you are overweight then it is more likely that you will go on to develop backache, which in turn increases your risk of a work-related back injury. Another major cause is having a bad posture.

The majority of people in the 21 Century spend most days sitting at their desk, staring at their computers or other screens. If this sounds like you then it’s important that you take the time out in your day to walk around, even if it’s just for a few minutes an hour. Try and walk as much as you can, don’t give into temptation by using the lifts, opt for the stairs whenever you can. Besides losing weight and avoiding back pain, exercise is really good for lowering blood pressure, relieving stress and depression.

Comfort is important, so become aware of your office chair. Is the height of your seat ok? And is that seat suitable for your desk? It’s surprising how much of a difference to your posture this can make. Look at the height of your computer screen, is it set too high? What about your shoes? Perhaps they are more of a fashion statement rather than suitable shoes for your job. If you are a driver, or you travel long distances in work, sitting for hours on end in a truck or a car can become really uncomfortable, look at ways you can improve your posture and reduce stress.

It has been estimated that 5% of all back pain is related to stress, that tells us that learning ways to relax are important. Yoga, meditation, and exercise, are all techniques that can be helpful. Try to avoid exercises that put more pressure on the spine or back muscles. It’s always better to do your own best to start off with any form of exercise. Start to develop smart lifting and carrying habits. When you pick up a heavy load or package keep your back straight, do not bend from the waist and always bend your knees! If satchels and backpacks aren’t worn properly they can lead to back problems. Do not sling a heavy bag over your shoulder, in doing so you can cause your spine and shoulders to twist as the weight is distributed unevenly – a recipe for future pain. Be sure to carry any weight in the centre line of your body, try to ensure that it doesn’t put an awkward sideways pressure on the spine or back muscles.

More importantly, whilst the onus is on the employer to ensure that each employee knows the regulations related to lifting and carrying in the workplace, it is everyone’s own responsibility to know their limits. Likewise, it is important that you are aware of your rights in the workplace, in case you suffer from a work related back injury.

Back pain can lead to months off work, which is bad news for anyone due to the big drop in income. However, employers must have insurance to cover this. You might feel awkward about making a claim against your employer’s insurance but in reality, it is only fair. A personal injury lawyer can help you to manage your claim and ensure that you don't not suffer any more than you have to.

Are you eligible to claim?

Have you suffered from a back related injury as a result of something you have done at work? To find out more about how Cute Injury can help, get in touch with us today. No Win No Fee*

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