Thu 16 Dec 2021

The Value of a Wrist Injury

Injuries to the wrist most often occur as a result of a fall, which means that they can happen to anyone, although they are most common amongst the young and the elderly. When we slip or trip, our natural instinct is to put our hands out to break the fall. Serious injury can result from landing on the wrist the wrong way and recovery may take several months or longer depending on the severity of the injury.

If you injure your wrist, like any other part of your body, you may be entitled to make a claim for compensation. In order to be successful in recovering compensation, someone else must be at fault for your accident. This may be an individual, a business, or a public body. For instance, if you injured your wrist as a result of a road traffic accident, you may be entitled to make a compensation claim against the third-party driver.

Types of Wrist Injury

The wrist comprises eight bones, known as carpal bones two of which connect to the two large bones of the forearm (known as ulna and radius bones). The wrist also contains a number of muscles, ligaments and tendons. The complex structure of the wrist allows for a range of movement, meaning that injuries to the wrist can be very debilitating. If you injure your wrist, you may require help from family and friends to complete everyday tasks, or you may have had to take time off from work. Both of these may result in compensation.

The two most common wrist injuries are sprains and fractures. A wrist sprain occurs when the ligaments in the wrist joint are over-stretched or torn. A wrist fracture occurs when one of the bones in the wrist joint is cracked or broken. Most wrist injuries occur as a result of falling onto an outstretched hand. The angle at which your wrist makes contact with the ground can determine the type of fracture that occurs. Most wrist fractures can be categorised as Colles Fractures Smith Fractures, or Scaphoid Fractures.

A Colles Fracture occurs when a fall is broken using the palm of the hand causing damage to one of the ulna or radius bones. A Smith Fracture occurs when the fall is broken using the back of your hand causing damage to one of these bones. Despite being widely considered as a "broken wrist", Colles and Smith Fractures are in the forearm and not the wrist itself. A Scaphoid Fracture occurs when the scaphoid, one of the eight carpal bones, is cracked or broken. If the fall causes the wrist to be bent backwords (over-extension of the joint), then it is more likely that the scaphoid bone will break. Falls with less extension to the wrist joint are more likely to cause breaks in the bones of the forearm. Often wrist fractures can be treated by setting the joint in a cast to restrict movement, but in some cases, surgery may be required. In very serious wrist injuries, an arthrodesis, or "joint fusion", may be performed. This involves fusing two damaged bones into one using metal pins and plates.

What can you claim for?

If you have suffered a wrist injury, the amount of compensation a court may award you will depend on the severity of the injury and the effect it has had, and will continue to have, on your life. Some of the factors the court will look at when assessing the level of compensation are:

  • The degree of pain experienced and the length of time it takes to make a full recovery;
  • The effect of the injury on your everyday life and its long-term implications. This includes the ability to continue to work or take part in hobbies and activities previously enjoyed;
  • Wage loss, both past and future, and whether any services have been required by family and friends;
  • The extent of the treatment required, particularly whether surgery was needed; and
  • Whether there was a pre-existing wrist problem and the extent to which this was exacerbated by the accident.

Our experienced personal injury solicitors will be able to quantify these factors and establish how much you are likely to receive in compensation.

What could your claim be worth?

If you have a claim for compensation, how much could you be awarded?

Morton Fraser's Compensation Calculator is a handy guide which can provide you with an indication of the value of your injury. It is based on the Judicial College Guidelines which take account of recent court decisions and serve as a reference point for lawyers when considering compensation. The recommended awards for wrist injuries are set out below.

  • For minor soft tissue injuries or minimal fractures where surgery is not required and a full recovery is made within a year, the court would likely award between £3,010 and £4,050.
  • An uncomplicated Colles Fracture which heals without complication, may be awarded in the region of £6,340.
  • Soft tissue injuries and fractures that take over a year to heal, but do so without long-term effects, are rarely valued above £8,740.
  • Wrist injuries that result in some permanent disability, such as persisting pain or stiffness, would attract an award of between £10,750 and £20,090.
  • More serious wrist injuries that result in significant permanent disability, but not the total loss of movement, are valued at between £20,900 and £33,430.
  • The most serious wrist injuries which cause life-changing disabilities, such as those that cause complete loss of movement or where an arthrodesis has been performed, may be awarded between £40,630 and £51,070.

Morton Fraser has successfully recovered damages in a number of cases where individuals suffered wrist injuries following accidents at work, road traffic accidents, and as the result of slip/trip accidents.  This includes cases where our clients were unable to continue with the job they carried out before their accident due to difficulties with their dexterity following injuries to their arm, wrist and/or hand.  In those cases, we require to consider carefully how our client is going to earn a living in the future so that we can assess any future loss of earnings and the potential for a claim for future loss of employability to account for difficulties in gaining employment. This claim would also take into account the costs of training for a new role and the likelihood of securing employment in a different sector.  We will work with clients to consider the position, often with the assistance of employment experts.

Who is the claim against?

Who is liable to pay compensation will depend upon the circumstances of the accident and who is to blame for your accident occurring.  Many wrist injuries are caused as a result of slipping or tripping in the workplace which your employer may be liable for if there has been a breach of duty.  You may also be entitled to make a claim for medical negligence if your wrist injury is due to a surgical error, delayed treatment or misdiagnosis. Morton Fraser's Personal Injury Team has extensive experience in pursuing all types of claims and we can provide you with advice on who is liable to pay compensation once we have discussed the facts and circumstances of your claim.

What next?

The above guidelines and our Compensation Calculator provide an initial indication of the values a court may award for the 'pain and suffering' you have endured, but do not take into account other losses such as assistance you required following your accident, the cost of medical treatment, past and future wage loss, pension loss and any other expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident. Each individual case must be considered on its own facts and circumstances. Our experienced Personal Injury team will take the time to assess your claim and can help you get the compensation you are entitled to. Contact us today on 0131 247 1000 or through our personal injury compensation enquiry form.

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