Arm injuries – whether they are obvious with the injured person in a cast or a sling, or cause chronic pain that might not be observable by the general public – are both common and capable of causing pain and suffering on a daily basis.
We use our arms for almost everything – making them both a common area for injury and a difficult area to rest and recover from when we do find ourselves incapacitated.
If you have suffered an injury to your upper or lower arm/forearm – whether at work, in public, or in a car accident – you might consider whether you could be eligible for a compensation claim.
If you have suffered damage or injury to your upper or lower arm, you may be able to claim compensation. Depending on the circumstances, this may be possible if:
If you are injured at work, you may be able to claim compensation from your employer. Employers must provide proper and adequate means for employees to carry out their work.
If you are injured because your employer neglects to provide safe systems of work, equipment or a safe environment, you may be able to sue for personal injury compensation. This includes injuries incurred over a long period of time, late-onset injuries, and aggravations of pre-existing injuries.
Example: Angela had a broken wrist from ice-skating when she was in her teenage years. She now works as a shelf stocker in a supermarket. One evening, she is stocking a shelf with jam jars when the shelf collapses. She tries to support the shelf with her hand, or risk all the jars breaking. Her wrist ends up badly fractured in multiple places. It was vulnerable to injury because of her previous break as a teenager. It turns out that the supermarket was supposed to replace old shelves about 6 months ago but hadn’t gotten around to it. Its managers had been warned that they were at risk of collapsing.
In this case, Angela would be able to claim compensation for her injuries. Even though her previous injury made her wrist fractures worse, the supermarket should have provided a safe system of work. By failing to replace the shelves, it did not do this.
Example: Harry is on a working holiday visa in Northern Queensland, picking strawberries. The farm owner has left the tractor running while he goes to open the gate. Harry can’t hear him properly and thinks he asks Harry to grab something from the tractor when he is actually telling Harry to stay away from it. Harry can’t hear him because of the motor noise. Harry has not received any training in how to use tractors or how to stay safe around them. Harry’s shirt sleeve gets stuck in the grill and he suffers severe lacerations to his forearm.
Harry would be able to claim compensation for his injury as a result of his employer’s failure to provide a safe work environment and put in safe workplace practices. Generally, the employer will take out WorkCover insurance so the workplace does not pay for this compensation. It is a statutory-based scheme in Queensland so payments come from the government.
More info: Work injury compensation
Car accidents commonly cause an arm injury. If you are injured in an accident that is totally or partially the fault of another driver (including if you are a passenger of that driver), you can claim against their Compulsory Third Party Insurer.
Example: Maddy and her friend Anne were driving to a party – Anne was driving, Maddy was in the passenger seat. Maddy was not wearing a seatbelt.
Anne swerved suddenly to avoid an oncoming vehicle that had drifted across into her lane, risking a head-on collision. The oncoming vehicle still hit the side of Anne’s car.
Maddy suffered a full bicep tendon tear as a result of trying to support herself against the car door upon impact.
In this case, while Maddy would have a claim against the Compulsory Third Party insurer of the other vehicle, they would argue that Maddy’s negligence in failing to wear a seatbelt was responsible for a significant portion of her injury. They would argue that any compensation for which she was eligible ought to be reduced by the amount she is responsible (her ‘contributory negligence’).
More info: Motor vehicle injury compensation claims
Occupiers (including owners of private property and public authorities), have a duty of care toward people coming onto their premises. They must take reasonable care to make sure entrants are not exposed to risks that are likely to cause injury. This means if there is something that is potentially dangerous on their property they must rectify it or warn people of the danger. Common scenarios include someone slipping on a floor surface, tripping over an unexpected obstacle on the ground, falling into an unmarked hole in the pavement, or being hit by falling debris from a building site.
General damages can compensate you for the pain and suffering you have experienced as well as any permanent loss of enjoyment of life as a result of your injury. They are calculated by reference to the ISV Scale which rates the seriousness of any injury between 1 and 100 and accords a monetary value range to that rating.
For example an extreme arm injury such as severe bone and joint damage with a poor outcome after surgery is rated 31 to 50 with a corresponding compensation range of $65,960 to $131,200 whereas a moderate arm injury including permanent and significant tissue disruption from tendon or ligament tears is rated 6 to 10 with a corresponding compensation range of $8,630 to $15,350.
To diagnose and treat an arm injury you may need to consult your general practitioner, consult a specialist, obtain x-rays or MRIs, take pain medications and wear medical supports or apparatus. The expenses you incur to obtain medical treatment including costs of consultations, diagnostic scans, travel costs, medication and medical equipment may be claimed as compensation. You can also claim for medical costs you will incur in the future as a result of your injury.
Hospital and surgical costs
Arm injuries may require surgery to repair tendon or ligament tears. Surgery may also be required to repair particularly bad breaks or fractures. Surgical and hospital costs paid by you can be claimed as compensation as long as the surgery was necessary to treat your condition.
Rehabilitating after an arm injury may involve physiotherapy, chiropractic treatments, acupuncture, home and vehicle modifications and ergonomic aids. Your reasonable costs of rehabilitation can be claimed back as compensation.
Loss of income and future earning capacity
If you suffer an arm injury you may need time off work for several weeks or months immediately after the incident. You can claim compensation for lost income. If your arm injury prevents you from working to the same extent as you did prior to the injury you may also be able to claim loss of future income earning capacity.
Occupations that require manual labour may be difficult or impossible for someone who has suffered an arm injury and their capacity to earn income in the future may be reduced. This is usually estimated as a lump sum figure based on the age of the person, their usual occupation and other skills.
Loss of Superannuation
Compensation can be claimed for superannuation that would have been paid on lost income.
Care & Assistance
Arm injuries may prevent you from being able to perform tasks such as personal care, cleaning, laundry, mowing your lawns, caring for the garden or other domestic chores. If you formerly performed these duties but are now unable to due to an injury you can claim compensation for care and assistance provided to you by friends, relatives or paid contractors.
In Queensland, there is a minimum threshold for this type of compensation.
Professions that require manual labour and load-bearing activity are at higher risk of arm injuries. This may include construction workers, heavy labourers, carpenters, industrial workers and athletes.
Any or all of the above can also cause acute pain, as well as chronic pain and issues such as arthritis.
Arms can be injured for a multitude of reasons:
In general terms, the settlement amount for an arm injury is gauged by comparing what your life was like before the injury and what it is like now, as a result of the injury. Someone whose injury has had a greater impact on their life will be entitled to more compensation than someone whose injury has had only minimal impact. The amount of compensation payable for an arm injury will vary greatly from case to case, depending on a variety of variables such as:
For most personal injury claims, legal action must be commenced within 3 years of the date of the injury. If you miss this deadline, your claim will be statute barred and you will lose all rights to claim compensation. However, depending on where your injury occurred and who you are suing, specific pre-court procedures may apply. Pre-court procedures specify other time limits which are much sooner. If you miss these time limits you may lose your rights to claim unless you can convince the court that you had a good reason for delaying and why you should be allowed to claim. The time limits specified by some pre-court procedures are set out below.
If your injuries were sustained at work: Statutory workers compensation claims in Queensland must be filed within 6 months from the date of the accident or the date you become aware of your injury. If you intend to sue your employer for negligence (otherwise known as a common law claim) you must request an assessment of permanent impairment from the workers’ compensation insurer within 2.5 years of the injury.
If your injuries were sustained in a motor vehicle accident: Pre-court procedures require you to serve an official Notice of Claim on the party you believe to be at fault within 9 months of the injury, or within 1 month of your consultation with a solicitor in relation to your claim, whichever occurs first.
If your injuries are the subject of a public liability claim: If you are making a claim for personal injuries against an occupier, property owner or public authority, pre-court procedures require you to serve an official Notice of Claim on the party you believe to be at fault within 9 months of the injury, or within 1 month of your consultation with a solicitor in relation to your claim, whichever is first.
If you are under 18 years of age: For minors, the obligation to serve the other party with a Notice of Claim begins when the child turns 18, however a parent or guardian may do this on behalf of the minor before they turn 18.
Depending on the nature of your injury and the circumstances which caused it, compensation may or may not be available.
It’s important to get advice for your specific situation. Check if you can make a risk-free compensation claim and get free initial advice from our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith.
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