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Loss of Sight Claims

Eyesight loss and making a claim

Our eyesight is precious, an integral part of who we are. It is our means of reading, being able to see how we write, how we see people and objects and the whole world around us, colours and spatial awareness – and even how we read people’s and animals’ emotions.

It is inconceivable for sighted people to even contemplate how they would react if they were to lose their vision. So if you lose your sight, whether gradually or suddenly, it can be very upsetting. Our eyes naturally change as we grow older – it is normal to become longsighted and there is an increasing risk of glaucoma and cataracts.

Fortunately, help is available in the UK to deal with changes in eyesight and treatment for more serious age and illness-related eye sight problems. But loss of sight as a result of injury or medical negligence is a different ballgame – no one should be put at risk of eye damage and loss of sight as a result of someone else’s negligence.

The reality is, loss of sight is devastating and can take a long time to adapt to what is undoubtedly a new and challenging way of living. Whether you have lost your sight completely or partially, life will never be the same again. Thankfully, complete loss of sight after brain injury is rare but it happens.

If you are suffering loss of vision following an injury that wasn’t your fault, you should be able to claim compensation to help you on the long road to recovery. An expert legal adviser can help you today, and partner you with a specialist solicitor able to help you make a claim.

You can contact a legally-trained adviser now, for free on 0800 234 6438 or by entering your name and phone number in the form on this page.

What is accidental blindness?

If you have suffered blindness or loss of vision through no fault of your own, this is often known as ‘accidental blindness’. While many of us may experience a very gradual deterioration of our eye sight as we reach the wrong side of 50 (or much later, if we’re fortunate), unexpectedly suffering blindness following an accident or poor workplace conditions can be extremely painful and traumatic.

There are different causes of accidental loss of sight. The most common causes are head and eye injuries, workplace injuries and medical negligence; but accidental blindness can also result from falling loads in supermarkets, penetration injuries, traffic accidents and scalds in restaurants – and even following tripping accidents in public places.

Even relatively minor accidents can lead to permanent loss of vision and blindness and individuals should be able to claim compensation from those responsible.

DID YOU KNOW: 250 people start to lose their sight each day in the UK, the equivalent to one person every six minutes. In addition, many more individuals will experience sight loss directly as a result of an eye injury.

Loss of sight compensation claims

Vision loss can be mild, amounting to a minor impairment that may right itself; or it can be life shattering. Blindness can lead to loss of career, profoundly impact on your family and social life and shatter your self-confidence. It is only fair that if it is the direct result of someone else’s negligence, you should be able to recover compensation to reflect the harm and distress you have suffered and continue to experience.

You can claim compensation for a minor eye injury which has resulted in mild and temporary vision loss, whether it affected one or both eyes. A serious injury that has led to severe, permanent loss such as long term blindness in either or both eyes will deserve significant compensation.

Your specialist solicitor will take full background information about the incident and the impact on you and your sight in order to fully advise you as to how the law will assist you.

What are the symptoms of accident-related loss of vision and impaired sight?

There is a range of symptoms individuals can experience after suffering an accident that affects the vision, apart from loss of sight itself. You can lose clarity of vision so that objects appear blurry; you may experience black patches and spots in your vision; you may experience double vision or involuntary shaking within the eye. Some sufferers may experience the inability to recognise objects (even normally familiar faces) or their colour; while others experience colour blindness and photophobia (sensitivity to light).

Any of these injury-induced symptoms can have a detrimental effect on your ability to navigate and enjoy the world, whether that’s your work, your family or your social life.

Even mild cases, such as dry eyes and redness, following an injury deserves compensation.

DID YOU KNOW: 90% of all eye injuries treated by an NHS trust were preventable and 60% of injured workers were not wearing eye protection at the time of the accident.

What types of accident cause blindness and loss of vision?

It’s an unfortunate fact of life that accidents happen anywhere, whether at home, in the workplace or when you’re out shopping or enjoying your social life. Many eye injuries also happen during DIY work at home. The most common causes of loss of sight are:

Head injuries

Some people may be surprised to know that a head injury can impact your eyesight. This is because a traumatic brain injury can profoundly affect the nerve transmitting signals from the brain to the eyes.

When this nerve – the optic nerve – is damaged by the injury, swelling can result in nerve cells dying, leading to potentially permanent vision loss. As yet there is no cure for this type of damage.

In addition, if damage is caused to the occipital lobe – an area of the brain responsible for most of our visual processing – the quality and interpretation of information received can be impaired. This leads to visual problems which could be mild or they could be very severe.

If your head injury resulted from an incident caused by someone’s negligence or carelessness, you deserve to make an injury claim and a legal adviser can help you take the first steps.

Loss of sight at work

Employees should be able to expect that they can go out to work, do their job safely and return home free from injury. Unfortunately, avoidable accidents can result in workers sustaining eye injuries resulting in loss of vision and sometimes permanent blindness.

This should be concerning – employers have clear legal duties to undertake regular risk assessments and to take reasonable measures to minimise the risk of injury and eye damage to their workers. The evidence is that this is not happening, leading to individuals needlessly losing their vision while at work.

According to the Manchester University NHS trust, research suggests that 60% of workers who suffer an eye injury were not wearing eye protection at the time of the accident. Furthermore, nearly half of the injured workers were wearing some form of eye protection, but it was ill-fitting, the wrong type of protection or badly damaged.

The most common types of work-related accident that damages workers’ sight include:

The law recognises how serious eye injuries in the workplace can be. In fact, any injury likely to lead to reduction in sight or permanent loss of sight is a reportable
injury for the purposes of RIDDOR (the formal scheme for reporting of injuries, diseases and dangerous occurrences at work).

Blindness and other eye injuries that result from chemical injuries and ultraviolet rays are a particularly risk in the workplace.

DID YOU KNOW: In 2018 to 2019, 814 eye injuries were reported to RIDDOR that occurred in the workplace.

Chemical injuries

Chemical injuries at work can be particularly painful and distressing, often causing immediate and permanent eye sight problems. Alkali burns are particularly damaging as alkalis can penetrate more quickly than acids, causing corneal damage, ulcers and other serious problems.

Chemical burns to the eye happen when a liquid or powder comes into direct contact with the eye, which is why appropriate eye protection for the job in hand must be available. If you’ve been the victim of a chemical eye injury at work, make sure your employer knows about it so that it can be formally recorded.

Ultraviolet rays (UV)

UV rays are a workplace hazard that must not be ignored. These are also known as ‘optical radiation’ (a term that also includes infrared radiation). Employers have specific duties to protect workers from the risk of harm from UV rays and other forms of optical radiation (The Control of Artificial Optical Radiation at Work Regulations 2010).

Workers can be exposed to excessively bright UV lights and welding flashes which can damage the cornea and the retina, or damage to the eye’s surface, potentially causing significant eye injuries. Outdoor workers, particularly those who are fair-skinned, red-headed or freckly, can suffer eye damage in long, hot spells without adequate eye protection from the sun’s rays.

Other workplace scenarios posing a similar risk to eye sight include UV insect traps, photographers’ flash lamps and high-pressure mercury floodlighting.

If you have suffered blindness or other visual problems as a result of working around UV rays or other sources of optical radiation, you deserve to be able to make an injury claim.

DID YOU KNOW: Between 10-20% of eye accidents in the workplace result in partial or full blindness.

Loss of sight following medical negligence

Visual problems and loss of sight are sometimes the result of medical negligence. Medical (or clinical) negligence occurs when a doctor or other health professional makes an avoidable mistake during a procedure.

No one expects to go to hospital or to a clinic, entrusting their bodies with specialist health professionals – and end up more damaged. The consequences of negligence in a clinical setting for the patient and their family can be extremely devastating.

An optician, for instance, may have missed an early sign of a tumour at the back of the eye, meaning delays in further investigations and treatment. The result could be blindness or death if the cancer spread.

In one case, an optician was rightly concerned with a patient’s sight and referred her to hospital for ophthalmology assessments. However, there were successive and unacceptable delays at the hospital, which meant crucial scans were delayed. The patient’s sight deteriorated and as a result of the hospital’s negligence, she was left blind in her left eye and reduced vision in her other eye. She won a six-figure compensation pay out.

Strokes can also lead to loss of vision. Misdiagnosed strokes, or insufficient care and treatment of a stroke victim can directly lead to the victim suffering blindness. Such failings are avoidable and it is only fair that they should be able to claim injury compensation in the wake of medical negligence.

Mounting a medical negligence claim for loss of sight can be challenging. However, if you’ve suffered vision loss following negligence, with the best legal representation you should succeed in securing the compensation you deserve.

Sporting injuries causing loss of vision

Eye and brain injuries, including those causing loss of vision, can happen in sporting incidents. While many participants in contact sports, such as boxing, take part fully knowing of the risk of injury, there are situations where some accidents are avoidable if adequate risk assessments and precautions are implemented.

Traumatic eye injuries can be caused by balls, racquets, hockey sticks and body parts hitting the victim in the eye or head.

In the riskier sports, protective eyewear should be worn to minimise the risk – particularly if the individual already wears glasses or contact lenses. Equipment and the sporting facilities used should be kept in a good state of repair to minimise the risk of injury and events and competitions held in the open air should be risk assessed in the case of inclement weather.

If a sports club or school, for instance, allows a sporting event to go ahead and a competitor or school pupil is injured because of a breach of duty of care, they could be held legally responsible for the injuries.

The fact is, not every sports injury is unavoidable. If you have suffered loss of vision or even blindness following a sporting incident, you must seek specialist legal advice to find out if someone should be held legally responsible for what has happened.

DID YOU KNOW: Swimming and pool activities are responsible for the most sports-related eye injuries in the US

No win no fee loss of sight claims

Your injury solicitor will take your loss of vision claim on a no win no fee basis, meaning there is no financial risk to you in making a claim.

No win no fee (also known as a conditional fee agreement) is an agreement between you and your solicitor which means you won’t have to pay their fee if you don’t win your loss of sight case. This means you won’t be left with a bill you can’t afford.

Another benefit of no win no fee is that you don’t need to pay any costs upfront – once your solicitor takes on your case, you’ll only need to pay them if you win your claim.

If your loss of vision claim is successful, then you’ll receive compensation and can spend it however you choose. You’ll need to pay your solicitor’s success fee as a percentage of your compensation – but this will usually be a small portion of your claim. The exact amount varies depending on how complex your case is, but it will never be more than 25% of the money you receive. This will be discussed with your solicitor before starting your case so you’ll know what you will have to pay.

Your injury lawyer’s priority is to make sure you get the money you need for your recovery, so you don’t need to worry about all your compensation being taken up by legal fees.

How much compensation do you get for loss of vision?

Whether your loss of vision resulted from an accident at work or in a public place, or if your claim results from medical negligence, the amount you receive will depend on various factors. This includes the nature and extent of the injury itself and the effects of the injury (or workplace conditions) on your sight. The particular challenge with eye injuries is that the full extent of sight loss may take a long time to become apparent. Expert medical evidence from an eye specialist will become necessary – your solicitor will arrange this on your behalf. The specialist will look into the full background of your injury, examine you carefully and write a report setting out his or her view on your injury and the prognosis for your vision and any potential recovery.

This will be vital to enable your lawyers to negotiate a fair settlement that you deserve. It is therefore very difficult to give guidelines figures for your injury so early on. The official Judicial College Guidelines for compensation, which lawyers follow, suggest:

Feel free to try our online compensation calculator for a rough, initial estimate of how much you could win – but bear in mind it should only be treated as a guide. Your specialist solicitor can discuss this with you in more detail.

In addition to damages for your injuries and the impact on your life, your solicitor will also be able to claim for your actual financial losses. These are called ‘special damages’ and are intended to ensure you’re not left out of pocket. Special damages covers items such as:

It is important to keep all receipts, invoices and payslips to pass onto your solicitor in due course.

DID YOU KNOW: 22% of Britons surveyed in June 2020 said their vision worsened during lockdown; and 32% believed that spending more time in front of screens has worsened their eyesight.

What if the accident was my fault?

For some people, it is natural to think that they must be to blame for what happened – that their vision problems are the result of their own carelessness. However, in many cases that is an incorrect assumption – so even if you believe that the incident was your fault (or partially your fault), you should still talk things over with a specialist legal adviser so that you know where you stand. For example, if you were injured at work from chemicals getting into your eyes, you may assume you were at fault because you rubbed your eyes after handling the chemicals. However, your employer has strict legal duties towards you as a worker.

Your solicitor will need to find out if there were any deficiencies in your training, in your supervision in how to handle the substances and how to effectively clean yourself down after using them or being exposed to them.

It is likely you could be advised that the incident, and your eye injury and loss of sight was not, in fact, your fault.

It is possible that when you do make a claim against your employer, they may come back and argue you were partly to blame for your injuries (or may even deny responsibility completely). However, it is then the employer’s responsibility to prove you were to blame.

That said, there are cases where a worker can be treated partly to blame, for example, you may have been careless in wiping your eyes before washing your hands, against advice. In such a scenario, if you are found partly to blame (this is known as ‘contributory negligence’) your employer would probably not have to pay you the full amount of compensation. The full amount of compensation would then be reduced by a proportionate amount to reflect your responsibility for the incident.

So if you think you were partly to blame for your injuries, it is important to raise this with your solicitor as early as you can. It should not stop you making a claim but it could reduce the amount of compensation you receive.

DID YOU KNOW: In spring 2021, a prison inmate who lost an eye and sustained a brain injury in a prison attack by another inmate was awarded £85,000 in compensation. Lee Newell was punched and repeatedly kicked in the head. The court found that the Ministry of Justice failed in its duty of care to keep Newell reasonably safe.

How can I make a claim for loss of sight?

If you or a family member have suffered blindness or loss of vision, however mild you think it is, as a result of someone else’s negligence or carelessness, you should be able to make a compensation claim. Contact a legal adviser early, and they can help you make a no win no fee injury claim.

They will give you free guidance as to how you we can help you make your injury claim. But you must make sure you’ve sought medical attention – not only for your injury but to ensure the incident is documented in your medical records from the outset.

You should also:

All this information will be crucial in helping your solicitor build the strongest possible case on your behalf, enabling you to recover maximum compensation.

Time limits to making a claim after injury

The guiding rule is that you have three years from the date of the incident that caused your loss of vision to start legal proceedings for compensation. However, it is often the case with eye injuries that loss of vision does not start to manifest for some time after the event.

If blindness or loss of vision becomes apparent some time after the accident, or after a period of time working in an environment that likely caused it, the three-year period begins when you could be reasonably aware that your working conditions were the cause.

Sometimes, it is not clear so if you are in any doubt as to whether you can still claim, it is always important to consult with specialist advisers to check if you still have time to bring a claim.

To find out whether you could make a claim, you can speak to a legal adivser on 0800 234 6438, or arrange a call back using the claim form on this page.

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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