Does a broken arm justify making a compensation claim?

The answer to this question is yes – provided you think your injury might have been caused by somebody else. That might be due to them doing something dangerous (for example, causing a vehicle crash). It might be due to them failing to do something they ought to have done (such as cleaning up a slippery spillage on their premises).

The average person does not always recognise that legally, someone else is to blame for causing their injury. That problem is very common when a worker is injured in circumstances where Health & Safety Regulations have not been observed or a risk has not been recognised, assessed and minimised.

It is also important to remember that signs warning visitors that they enter premises at their own risk do not affect a person’s legal right to claim compensation for your broken arm – no matter how serious.

It is always advisable to seek expert advice from a specialist personal injury lawyer. That initial advice should be free with no obligations.

broken arm

Is it serious?

The severity of your broken arm is a clear factor in helping you decide whether to go ahead with a compensation claim and the eventual settlement figure, if your case is successful.

There are many types of bone injuries, for example:

  • A hairline or stress fracture is a small crack or severe bruise within a bone.
  • A stable fracture means the broken bone still lines up and is barely out of place.
  • An open or compound fracture is when the person’s skin is pierced by the bone or the impact breaks the skin at the time of the fracture.
  • A transverse fracture is a horizontal fracture line through the bone.
  • An oblique fracture has an angled break line.
  • A comminuted fracture is when the bone shatters into three or more pieces.

Treatment varies depending on the type of broken arm. A stable fracture may only require a cast to hold the bone in place while it heals, but a comminuted fracture could require surgery, multiple metal pins and substantial rehabilitation. While the second scenario has longer term and more severe implications on a person’s life, both have financial implications and may require time off work and private physiotherapy treatment.

A broken arm can also lead to complications

The seriousness of the injury should also take into account any subsequent complications following the incident and initial treatment for the broken arm.  What at first appears to be a minor injury can develop into something more serious and impact on the rest of your life.

The prognosis for most arm fractures is very good if treated promptly and properly. However, potential complications that can develop from a broken arm are:

  • If a child breaks their arm it can impact on the development of the arm and cause uneven growth.
  • A break or fracture within the bone joint can cause arthritis.
  • A broken arm needs to be retrained to stop it from moving so it can heal properly. In some cases, if the injured bone is in the upper arm, the required treatment can result in long term restricted movement and stiffness in the elbow or shoulder.
  • If a bone breaks and pierces the skin it can be exposed to infection.
  • When the bone in the upper arm breaks completely then the broken ends can damage the local nerve and blood vessels causing numbness and circulation problems.
  • If the arm suffers from too much inflammation post-injury there is a risk of compartment syndrome. The pressure of the swelling can cut off the blood supply to the arm causing numbness and pain. This can be aggravated if the cast to hold the arm straight is too tight. The condition requires emergency surgery.

If you get legal advice, your complications can be addressed within the compensation claim to get the appropriate support and treatment.

It’s all relative

For the purposes of a personal injury case, the seriousness of a broken arm does not always depend on the injury itself. Your circumstances will play a vital role in the decision whether or not to go ahead with a claim and how much you will receive if successful. One person’s inconvenient broken arm can be another person’s serious life-changing injury that impacts on their livelihood, wellbeing and quality of life.

An accountant with a broken arm can still do his job. He can still use a calculator, spreadsheets, email and the telephone. However, a contract brick worker with a broken arm can’t do his job and the knock-on effect can be huge.

The brick worker can’t earn a living with a broken arm. Do they have rent or a mortgage to pay and a family to feed? Will they have to pay for someone else to finish their work? Could they lose current or future contract work? How long will the broken arm take to heal? Will they need specialist treatment? What if the arm does not heal properly? Will the arm suffer any long term pain or limited movement? Will they have to retrain to do another job?

Even a less serious hairline or stress fracture can take 6 to 8 weeks to get better. Returning to work and using the arm too soon can put recovery at risk and lead to long term complications.

injured arm and wrist

How much compensation can I expect for a broken arm?

Compensation claims are not judged on the basis of wrongdoing but on the losses that were unfairly inflicted upon the injured person. The compensation is meant to put the injured person back into the financial position they would have been in if the broken arm had never happened.

So, the amount a person can expect from a successful compensation claim is unique to the individual’s circumstances, making it difficult to predict a final settlement figure. The question is even harder to answer when considering the range of circumstances that can lead to a broken arm and the severity of the injury.

To help calculate this part of your claim, your solicitor will organise for a medical expert to examine your injuries and produce a medical report. This will outline the seriousness of your injury and estimate how long it will take to heal. The report will also say whether or not there are likely to be any future complications. Your solicitor will use the report, along with information about past settlements for similar injuries, as the basis for determining the value of your injury.

The compensation a person can expect to receive through a successful claim can be grouped into two categories: general damages and special damages.

What are general damages?

General damages are awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA).  This can include such considerations as:

  • Psychological pain and anguish
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Physical disfigurement and disability
  • The loss of a promotion in work
  • Disadvantage in the job market
  • Unable to complete daily tasks
  • Forced to give up a hobby
  • Forced to stop playing a sport

The category includes the sorts of things that can be hard to value because every person’s experience and the impact of an injury is unique.

A guide to general damages is set out in the Judicial College. These types of awards are calculated in relation to the nature and severity of the injury and are set out in the form of minimum and maximum amounts. Insurers and lawyers will refer to the guidelines while assessing compensation for an injury, like a broken arm, but they are not law.

Examples from the guidelines for arm-related injuries include:

  • Simple fractures, including tennis elbow and lacerations: £2,500
  • Simple fractures of the forearm or upper arm, which heal quickly with no complications or ongoing problems: £4,750 – £13,700
  • Arm injury with consistent but minor symptoms that require surgery but your arm can still function: Up to £9,000
  • Severe arm injury, including multiple broken bones: £13,700 – £28,000
  • Arm injury including multiple broken bones which do not heal correctly resulting in severe disability and ongoing pain: £28,000 – £39,150
  • Arm injury resulting in permanent disability: £28,000 – £42,750
  • Severe arm injury, narrowly avoiding amputation: £68,750 – £93,500

The above figures are just a guide to arm-related injuries and don’t include loss of income, cost of medical treatment and other considerations.

What are special damages?

Special damages can also be known as economic damages and relate to tangible monetary losses as a result of the injury to the person. For example, special damages can include loss of earnings, the cost of medical treatment, travel expenses, purchasing equipment and insurance excesses.

A broken arm can be a life-changing injury that has a major impact on a person’s future earnings, so in some cases the amount of special damages can be considerable.

Experienced personal injury compensation solicitors

A specialist and experienced personal injury lawyer will provide free, initial advice with no obligations. Birchall Blackburn Law’s injury solicitors certainly offer this free service so make the most of it and give our experts a call. You may have grounds for a compensation claim after an injury.

With over 100 years of combined experience in serious and catastrophic law, our special serious injury solicitors are just a phone call away. You can reach them on 0800 988 1548, or take a look at more information here…