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Elbow Injury Claims

Elbow Injury Claims – A Summary

An elbow injury is not only painful but it can have a seriously detrimental impact on your daily life and ability to carry out your work. The elbow is what is known as a ‘synovial’ joint at the point between the lower arm and the upper arm.

If damaged, arm movements can be difficult and painful; and recovery can, in some cases, take weeks or months. Long term or even permanent can be caused in the most serious elbow injuries.

Anyone can suffer an elbow injury in just about any walk of life you can imagine; and it’s also common to develop an elbow condition through overuse or repetitive movements.

Whether you have suffered an elbow injury while at work, in a vehicle accident or while out in public, the reality is that the injury or elbow condition can cause you significant problems, apart from the pain and discomfort.

We all know accidents and knocks can happen, but if your injury was caused through no fault of your own, you should be able to claim elbow injury compensation. Similarly, if you have developed an elbow condition in circumstances that were not your fault, for example, because of your working environment, you can start a claim for compensation.

Elbow injuries are a particular nuisance because the elbow is, after all, the joint enabling the arm’s smooth movement and leverage. So an injured elbow is likely to have a potentially big impact on how your arm functions as a whole. If the injury is not your fault, it’s only fair that someone else is held responsible.

If someone else was negligent or careless, and your elbow injury or condition was the direct result of this, get in touch with our specialist advisers to find out more about making your injury claim.

Getting started with your claim is simple – simply give a trained legal adviser a call on 0800 234 6438 for free. They’ll talk you through the accident or the circumstances of your elbow condition, explain your options then partner you with the right solicitor for your case.

You need not worry about how much an elbow injury claim could cost. This is because your claim will be taken on a No Win No Fee basis which means you will not have to pay out anything if you do not win. If you prefer, you can fill in this online contact form to request a call back from an adviser.

What are the most common causes of elbow injury?

Just about everyone uses their arms all the time without even thinking about it. We’ve all bumped and bruised our elbows and winced when we’ve hit our ‘funny bone’ – but suffering more than a bump or bruise is not what we anticipate happening as we go about our normal daily lives.

The reality is, elbow injuries can be caused in just about any type of activity you can think of. You can sustain an elbow injury in a car accident, while at work, falling from a height, slipping on a wet surface or tripping over in the street or in a public place, such as in a supermarket. You can even injure your elbow in a sedentary setting such as in an office or restaurant.

There is also the risk of developing a painful elbow condition, such as RSI or tendinitis, if you are not adequately protected from the risk of harm.

However, in most of the environments in which we find ourselves, the person or organisation responsible for the land or property has a legal duty to protect you – whether you’re a worker or a member of the public – to minimise the risk of injury.

The most common cause of elbow injuries are:

Road traffic accidents – Whether you’re the driver or passenger, a pedestrian or cyclist, our busy roads involve an element of risk. If you’ve been involved in a road accident and your elbow takes excessive force, for instance you put your arms out to protect yourself, you could suffer a potentially serious elbow injury.

Sports activities – Elbow injuries and overuse conditions are a particular risk for those playing sports that involve repetitive actions, such as tennis, squash, golf and also activities such as weight lifting.

DID YOU KNOW: Most elbow injuries sustained in sports are chronic overuse injuries.

Slips and trips – We’ve all fallen over at some point in our lives and banged or grazed our arms and elbows. But sometimes, a heavy fall can cause more serious injuries to the elbow, whether that’s a crush injury, a fracture or a muscle tear.

Medical negligence – Negligence on the part of doctors or other health professionals can lead to serious elbow injuries. If, for instance, you suffer a lower or upper arm injury and there is a delay in treatment, you could be at risk of losing your arm including the elbow; or you could face long term elbow joint problems that could significantly impact your life.

However, doctors are held to a particularly high standard and should be held responsible if they are negligent, and cause or exacerbate your elbow injury.

Accidents at work – Elbow injuries in the workplace are more common in working environments involving physical labour. Particularly, painful elbow conditions caused at work are often associated with roles that involve repetitive actions such as welding and plastering, and work that involves vibration.

Injuries and conditions to the elbow that are linked to your work can leave you unable to work, but usually your employer can be held responsible for injury and its impact on you and your life. This is because employers have a general duty of care towards its workers under a raft of health and safety legislation. This means business have strict responsibilities to ensure the workplace is safe and reasonably free from the risk of injury.

Employers are required to carry out risk assessments that promptly identify any risks to worker health and safety; and they must deal with risks identified in a timely way. So if you have suffered an arm or elbow injury while at work, you should act quickly and take specialist legal advice about making your claim.

If you have developed an elbow condition because of the repetitive nature of your work and you have not been adequately protected, it’s only right that you should be able to claim compensation.

However, we do understand that bring a compensation claim against your employer may be a daunting prospect. It can be reassuring to know that your claim will actually be against their insurance company and not the employer directly. Your compensation will then be paid by the insurer and not out of the employer’s own pocket.

What types of elbow injury are there?

As a synovial joint, the elbow joins the bones in the lower and upper arm with a fibrous joint ‘capsule’. The bones themselves are encased in smooth cartilage. When you bend and straighten your arm, or rotate it at the elbow, the joint allows smooth movement to take place.

If the cartilage, synovial membrane or any other parts of the elbow are damaged – there can be pain and restricted movement within the joint. General or referred pain might also be felt in other parts of the arm.

Elbows can also be injured through excessive stress and repetitive movements, sprains and strains and bone injuries. You may be wondering, how do I know if my elbow injury is serious? The level of pain, discomfort and the extent of immobility should give you a good idea of how serious your injury or condition is, but always seek expert medical advice as soon as you can.

DID YOU KNOW: A major cause of broken elbows and other arm injuries in children is jumping on trampolines

The most common types of elbow injury and condition are:

Fractures – A bone in the arm (the humerus, radius or ulna) can be broken or fractured through excessive force. A straightforward bony injury may heal in a few weeks compared to damage caused to soft tissue. However, given that the elbow is a particularly active joint, a fracture or break can take longer to heal compared to other fractures.

Traumatic injury – A sudden or traumatic blow to the elbow can lead to devastating injury, such as a crushed or broken elbow; penetration to the joint; serious bruising; dislocation; and muscle tears and ruptures. Treatment and recovery will vary depending on the nature and extent of the injury.

Repetitive strain injury (RSI) – RSI is a comment injury or condition, often caused by the prolonged repetitive overuse of the arm and elbow in the workplace. RSI can be caused by using heavy equipment and tools as well as small, repetitive movements such as prolonged keyboard work in an office environment.

RSI is an injury to the elbow ligaments which become inflamed. The result is pain, difficulties in moving the arm at the elbow joint and sometimes referred pain in the lower or upper arm. Pain management is often the only treatment while recovery is ongoing.

Tennis elbow – Tennis elbow is the generic name given to a specific form of RSI and is a frequent injury associated with tennis – hence its name. If you use your arm for repetitive actions over a long period of time, such as tennis and similar sports, where pressure is continually exerted on the joint, the tendons can become inflamed.

The result is often sharp pain and difficulties moving the arm. Even using your hand can aggravate the pain. Tennis elbow can be initially identified by pressing the area of the bone on the near side of the elbow but medical diagnosis and treatment should be sought.

This condition is also caused in the workplace – for example, plasterers, production workers and warehouse workers are all particularly prone to developing tennis elbow.

It’s not uncommon in cases of tennis elbow to think – can I claim compensation for tennis elbow? Thankfully, you can claim compensation – so long as your solicitor can demonstrate your tennis elbow was caused by negligence.

Golfer’s elbow – Similar to tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow is a form of RSI affecting the tendons on the inside of the elbow. Individuals who use their wrists for repetitive work over prolonged periods are at risk of developing golfer’s elbow. The condition can cause pain that may radiate down the forearm and wrist, but correct treatment can lead to a relatively quick recovery.

Olecranon bursitis – The bony tip of the elbow contains little fluid-filled sacs (bursa) that cushion the joint and allows the smooth functioning of the joint by reducing friction. Bursitis is where the bursa swell with fluid and become inflamed, for example, as a result of a traumatic force, or overuse or prolonged pressure. It’s often associated with workplace activities including plumbing, mechanics and plumbing.

Bursitis in the elbow can be painful and may also lead to infection The worst cases need medical treatment.

Tendinitis – This is inflammation and swelling to the tendon which connects the arm muscles in your lower arm to the bone. Tendonitis can be extremely painful, particularly if you carry on working out through the pain without letting it recover through rest and ice treatment. Tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow are both types of tendonitis.

Strains, sprains and tears – Typical signs of an elbow sprain or strain include pain when moving your arm, bruising, weakness and tenderness to the touch. A muscle tear is more serious, though thankfully, they are not that common and tend to follow traumatic injury such as a blow to the elbow.

A tendon tear at the location of the elbow is of particular concern and will not heal of its own accord. Surgery is usually necessary to restore full correct rotation of the forearm.

Elbow dislocation – A dislocation of the elbow is uncommon but can be excruciatingly painful. Dislocation happens when the surfaces of the joint are separated. A dislocation can be complete or partial and is usually caused by a traumatic injury, such as falling heavily on your elbow.

A complex dislocation involves not only dislocation of the elbow, but also bone and/or soft tissue injuries, so urgent medical treatment will be necessary.

Amputation – Amputation of the arm can be the result of trauma, such as in a car accident; or planned amputation to preserve the rest of the limb or to save your life. For example, a severe complex elbow dislocation can cause serious damage to the blood vessels and nerves in the arm and amputation may become necessary to protect your health or life.

A serious lower arm injury or upper arm injury can also lead to surgical amputation if doctors consider it necessary to save life. Amputation can involve removal of the elbow joint.

DID YOU KNOW: The Health and Safety Executive advises employers to make an assessment of awkward postures where tasks require repetitive movement of the upper limbs. The arm is considered to adopt an awkward posture if the elbow is raised to around chest height and the arm is unsupported, for example not resting on a workbench.

Am I eligible to claim compensation for my elbow injury

Anyone who has been injured as a result of an accident that was someone else’s fault is able to claim compensation. If you’ve sustained an elbow injury or any form of arm injury through no fault of your own, it is really important to start a claim as early as possible.

The fact is, most accidents happen because of negligence or breach of duty of care. But if your elbow injury happened because of your own carelessness, for instance, you threw the remains of a hot drink on the path, slipped over on it and then fell on your elbow injuring it – no one but you can be held responsible.

However, if someone else’s negligence or carelessness resulted in your elbow injury, we can help you start the process of claiming the compensation you deserve. Whether you are a worker or employee or a member of the public, you should be able to make a claim. You can also bring a claim against an employer if you are self-employed or an agency worker or zero hours contract worker – the legal protection extends to you too.

While money can never undo the damage done to your elbow, it can go a long way to making your recovery and future life easier for you and your family.

How much compensation could I claim for my elbow Injury?

Your compensation claim will include damages for your injury, pain and suffering (known as ‘general damages’); and a claim for any previous and future financial losses (known as ‘special damages’).

The fact is, no two accidents or injuries are the same, so how much you win depends on all the circumstances of your case. However, you can be confident your specialist solicitor will work to secure you the maximum amount of compensation possible.

General damages

Your general damages – the compensation you receive for your actual elbow injury – depend on your own particular case. This is because elbow injury compensation amounts awarded are based on the different type of injury, the extent of it and the impact on the your life.

General damages therefore vary greatly, depending on the seriousness of your injury or condition. The key factors that will be important for your injury lawyer include:

This means your solicitor will look at the full nature and impact of your elbow injury or condition, gather medical and other evidence, and work hard to make sure you receive the compensation you deserve.

Helpfully, there are formal judicial guidelines which lawyers refer to calculate fair compensation amounts for elbow injuries. These are called the Judicial College Guidelines (now in their 15th edition) and provide a starting point for what an injury is worth, for example:

Bear in mind that if you have other injuries, your compensation will be calculated by looking at your injuries as a whole rather than adding individual amounts for each injury separately. If you do have other injuries in addition to your elbow injury, your solicitor will be able to discuss your compensation with you.

Special damages

An important part of almost every elbow injury compensation claim is the claim for special damages, which covers any financial losses caused by the accident. For example, you may be out of pocket because you’ve had to have time of sick while you recover.

Your special damages claim might also include:

Your solicitor will need payslips, invoices and receipts and other information to support a claim for your financial losses so be sure to hang onto them and pass them onto your lawyer when requested.

DID YOU KNOW: A 17-year-old suffered serious brain and other injuries in a road traffic accident. His injuries included a complex fracture to his left elbow which required open surgery. He went onto develop osteoarthritis in his elbow. His injuries have severely impacted his ability to gain work and he was awarded provisional compensation of £3,500,000

I’m unable to work after an elbow injury. Can I claim loss of earnings?

It can be devastating losing your job and the ability to work after an injury. The reality of suffering an elbow injury or a debilitating elbow condition is, for some people, that they can no longer use their arm as they once could. The impact on their lives can be significant. Losing the ability to earn and support your family and having to rely on benefits, for instance, can be highly distressing.

Thankfully, your compensation claim will include a claim for loss of past and future earnings. By relying on your payslips (or equivalent), it will be straightforward enough for your solicitor to calculate your loss of earnings directly caused by your accident until you have to leave your job.

Calculating loss of future earnings can be more of a challenge. The law allows you to claim a fair amount of compensation, which includes taking into account your loss of future earnings and job prospects.

Loss of future earnings is based on your predicted loss of earnings were it not for the accident. Accurately predicting loss of earnings is not an exact science and can be complex depending on your circumstances, your age, experience, profession and so on.

This means your specialist lawyer will need to take full details of your pre-injury career prospects and income and other information, such as your general health and life expectancy. Additional factors will be taken into account, such as:

Your solicitor will then calculate a proposal for a fair level of compensation for loss of future earnings and negotiate with the other side.

How to make an elbow injury claim

It’s wise to start your elbow injury compensation as soon as possible while the accident and its impact on you are freshest in your mind. So long as your injuries or your condition were caused because of someone else’s negligence or carelessness, you can make a claim, so get in touch with an expert legal adviser for specialist guidance as to next steps.

When you first speak with your solicitor, try to have as much information to hand as possible – including photographs or sketches of where the incident happened. This will make it easier for you to answer their initial questions and obtain the best possible early advice.

We strongly suggest you keep a detailed account of what caused the injury or condition and keep it updated as you continue on your road to recovery. If, for instance, you suffered an elbow injury during a sporting event or while out in a public space – make sure you have details of any witnesses to the incident. Make a note of the weather conditions and other relevant factors that you think may have contributed to the accident.

If you developed an elbow condition or injury in the workplace, your solicitor will need to know the details. This will include what your role required of you, the physical expectations on you, how it impacted your arm and elbow and the pain and discomforted it caused, whether your employer undertook regular risk assessments and took steps to minimise the risk of injury.

This is crucial because in some cases, the full extent of the physical impact of your injury on your life may not immediately be apparent. Medical evidence will also be important, so if you’ve not sought medical advice or treatment for your elbow injury, you should do so straightaway. The record of early medical advice and treatment will be vital in your injury claim.

Your solicitor will also arrange for your to have an expert medical examination and report carried out to support your claim. This will be done under your no win no fee agreement, so you need not worry about the cost of this – it will be covered by the agreement and you won’t be asked for any money up front.

To ensure you can claim for your financial losses, gather details of any loss of earnings directly related to your injury, as well as other costs such as travel costs, physiotherapy and other medical-related expenses.

The more information your solicitor has to support your claim, the greater the chances of securing the maximum amount you deserve – as early as possible.

Your lawyer will discuss the claims process with you, guiding you through the initial steps and advising you of the options, depending on whether the other side accepts responsibility. In the vast majority of cases, the injury claim can be settled without going to court.

To get the ball rolling and start your injury claim, call free now and speak to a trained legal adviser on 0800 234 6438 or by filling in this online form.

DID YOU KNOW: A driver was hit by another car being driven on the wrong side of the road. She fractured her right elbow and needed to wear a splint on her elbow for three months. Three years on, she continues to suffer pain and did not return to work. She was awarded damages of £35,000 which included £18,000 compensation for her actual injuries.

How long after an injury can I make a claim?

The general rule is that you have three years from the date of the accident to start legal proceedings for compensation. After three years, you may be ‘time barred’ from making a claim.

If you have developed an elbow condition as a result of your working conditions, for instance, the three years starts to run from the date you could reasonably have expected to have known that the incident or, eg your workplace environment, caused it.

If in doubt about whether you are time-barred, don’t assume you can’t make a claim because of the passage of time. We strongly recommend talking things through with specialist solicitors so that you’re aware of your rights.

About the Author

Nicola Laver LLB

Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.

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