Knowledge base

Nerve Damage Injury Compensation

Nerve damage

Nerves that are located in the brain, spinal chord and throughout the body can become damaged due to trauma, disease or exposure to chemicals or drugs. Damage may occur in a variety of ways and result in a broad range of symptoms.

Nerve damage compensation 

You may be able to claim compensation for a medical condition involving nerve damage if it resulted from someone else’s negligence or carelessness. Negligence may arise in a variety of settings.

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Common types of nerve damage

  • Peripheral Nerve Damage: This is very common and usually results from trauma such as blunt force, crush injuries, fractures or deep cuts. Healing can take between a few weeks and a few months depending on the type and extent of the injury.
  • Ulnar nerve entrapment: (Cubital Tunnel Syndrome) The nerve travelling from neck to head can become constricted and the nerve is compressed resulting in numbness, tingling in the hand and fingers.
  • Sciatica: The sciatic nerve running through the lower back, buttock and back of each leg becomes pinched causing leg pain, tingling, numbness or weakness.
  • Radial nerve injury: The nerve running down the underside of the arm controlling movement of the tricep muscle and responsible for extending wrist and fingers and sensation in the hand can become damaged resulting in difficulty with movement, numbness, tingling or burning pain.
  • Peroneal nerve injury: The lower leg nerve which provides sensation and motor function becomes compressed or damaged causing foot drop.
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Compression of the median nerve at the wrist causing numbness, weakness and tinging in the hand.
  • Pronator Syndrome: Compression of the median nerve in the forearm resulting in altered sensation in the hand.
  • Anterior interosseous nerve syndrome: Partial or complete loss of muscle motor function in the hand; forearm pain due to medial nerve impingement.
  • Spinal Accessory nerve injury: Cranial nerve damage resulting in shoulder dysfunction.
  • Femoral neuropathy: Damage to the femoral nerve results in loss of sensation in part of the leg.
  • Long Thoracic Nerve Palsy: Pain and loss of shoulder movement due to damage or injury to the long thoracic nerve.
  • Gluteal Nerve Injury: A damaged superior gluteal nerve usually results in muscle weakness, hip alignment issues and back pain.
  • Paraplegia / Quadriplegia: Severe injury to the spinal cord and nerve roots.

Causes of nerve damage

Common causes of head and neck nerve damage

Nerve damage or neuropathy may result from a variety of causes, including:

  • Cancer: Tumours or masses may push against or crush nerves.
  • Autoimmune diseases: Multiple sclerosis, Guillain-Barre syndrome, myasthenia gravis, lupus, inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Compression/trauma: Nerves can become pinched or pressured by swelling, inflammation and herniation in surrounding tissue.
  • Surgery: Nerves can be cut or damaged during surgical procedures.
  • Diabetes: Sensory nerves are affected causing burning or numbness.
  • Drugs and toxic substances: Chemotherapy drugs, HIV treatments, lead, arsenic and mercury.
  • Diseases: Motor neurone disease, Lyme disease, herpes virus, HIV and hepatitis C.
  • Nutritional Deficiencies: B6, B12.

Compensation for nerve damage at work

If you are injured at work, you may be able to claim work injury compensation from your employer. Employers must provide proper and adequate means for employees to carry out their work. This includes:

  • providing safe systems of work;
  • maintaining safe machinery and equipment;
  • maintaining a safe workplace; and
  • providing employees with adequate facilities, training, supervision and instruction.

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.

Note: Weekly WorkCover payments operate under a separate ‘no fault’ scheme, meaning that you can receive weekly payments to cover lost income even if your injury was not because of your employer’s negligence.
Repetitive movements when working in a factory
Jeff is process worker in a large factory and works eight-hour shifts. His work requires repetitive movements with his arms and hands. His work is never varied or rotated to different tasks. Over a period of time he develops a nerve condition known as carpel tunnel syndrome in his right wrist. Jeff may be able to claim compensation from his employer for his medical condition. 
Rick suffers from sciatica pain as a result of a slip and fall incident which occurred at work while he was wearing inappropriate footwear. As a cleaner, Rick is required to wear shoes with good rubber grip, however at the time of the injury he was wearing rubber thongs. Rick may not be able to claim compensation for his injuries as they were due to his own negligence. However, he may be able to apply for Workers Compensation payments while he is off work.

See also: WorkCover Claims

Nerve damage from car accident - can I claim compensation?

Nerve damage frequently results from trauma sustained in a car accident. Noticeable symptoms of nerve damage following an accident may include: tingling in your arms or legs, pins and needles, abnormal sensitivity and pain, difficulty speaking, lightheadedness, dizziness, paralysis, loss of strength or continence issues.

If you sustain nerve damage due to a car accident and it was totally or partially due to the fault of another driver or vehicle owner you can claim motor vehicle injury compensation from the owner of the vehicle that caused the accident through their Compulsory Third Party insurer.

Nerve damage after car accident

Common nerve injuries sustained in car accidents: 

  • Back / Sciatic Nerve injuries: Sciatica causes nerve pain that starts in the lower back and radiates down one or both legs. The nerves in the lower back can become compressed, irritated or inflamed due to the force of impact in a collision. Even minor collisions can cause spine misalignment which can put pressure on the sciatic nerves. Bulging or herniated vertebral discs as a result of trauma may also impinge on nerves. 
  • Arm nerve damage: The impact of a collision may result in damage to nerves running through the arms, especially for the driver who is clutching the steering wheel. Arm nerves are connected to the neck which is prone to damage in a car accident. Blunt force from impacting the side of the vehicle or a laceration can also cause temporary or permanent nerve damage.
  • Neck nerve damage: Whiplash is a common injury resulting from the sudden jerking of the head during an impact. This can cause the nerves in the neck to be stretched, pinched or squashed from swelling and inflammation around the neck vertebrae.
Jeff suffers a bulging disc and sciatic nerve damage after he is T-boned at an intersection by another vehicle. Jeff is able to claim compensation for his injuries from the owner of the other car through its
Rick is texting on his mobile phone while driving and runs into the back of a truck. A few days after the incident Rick experiences pain in his right forearm and numbness, tingling and loss of strength in his right hand. Rick is unable to claim compensation for his injuries because the accident was his fault. (Exceptions apply for catastrophic accidents).

Compensation for nerve damage from surgery 

Nerve damage from surgical procedure

It is not uncommon for nerves to become damaged during surgical procedures as a result of scalpel cuts, bruising over the nerve, inflammation from surrounding tissue, patient positioning or prolonged contact with rigid surgical equipment. Patients with diabetes, cancer, vitamin deficiencies, or a history of previous nerve injury may be at higher risk. The resultant nerve damage may be temporary or permanent.

You may be able to claim compensation for nerve damage that is caused during surgery if the damage resulted from the negligent actions of a doctor or other medical professional. Not all medical errors are what the law classifies as ‘negligent' and if you experience nerve damage after a surgical procedure you are not automatically or necessarily entitled to compensation.

Medical negligence is a complicated area of law. If you are dissatisfied with the medical treatment you have received, speak with an experienced medical negligence lawyer about your options.

Potential long term impacts of nerve damage

The long term impacts of nerve injury can be debilitating and in many cases, full recovery is not possible. It can affect muscle control and movement, and may also cause paralysis or chronic pain. Often these symptoms will never go away and the patient must manage and live with such symptoms long term, severely impacting quality and enjoyment of life.

The emotional impact can also be considerable, especially when patients are living with nerve damage that causes substantial physical limitations, impotency or urinary incontinence.

Nerve damage compensation - what can I claim for?

General damages

Estimating nerve damage compensation

General damages 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 nerve damage. 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 injury causing quadriplegia has a rating of 75 to 100 and a monetary range of $232,600 to $349,400 whereas minor facial nerve damage with minimal paralysis and good repair is rated 0 to 5 with a monetary range of $0 to $6,950.

Medical costs

To diagnose and treat a nerve damage injury you may need to consult your general practitioner, consult a specialist, obtain x-rays or MRIs, take pain medications and wear special braces 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

Nerve damage may require surgery to repair severed nerves or relieve pressure on a nerve from surrounding tissue. Surgical or hospital costs paid by you can be claimed as compensation as long as the surgery was necessary to treat your condition.

Rehabilitation costs

Rehabilitation following nerve damage may involve physiotherapy, 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

How nerve damage compensation is calculated

If you suffer from nerve damage you may need time off work for several weeks or months. You can claim compensation for this lost income.

If your injury prevents you from working in the future to the same extent as you did prior to the injury you may also be able to claim loss of future income earning capacity. 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

Serious head or brain 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 as a result of 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.


Interest can generally be claimed on compensation for any ‘out of pocket’ expenses that are incurred before your claim is resolved.

Calculating compensation for nerve damage claim

How will my compensation be determined? 

In general terms, the amount of compensation is gauged by comparing what your life was like before the injury and what it is like now as a result of the injury. Therefore, 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 injury will vary greatly from case to case, depending on a variety of variables such as:

  • the severity of the injury: more severe injuries will attract more compensation;
  • the age of the patient: young people are likely to receive greater compensation than older people for a similar injury as it will impact their lifestyle and employment for a longer period of time;
  • level of health prior to the incident: an active and healthy person may suffer more from an injury because they are unable to exercise the way they did prior to the accident and may become predisposed to mood disorders and other health conditions they may not have suffered were it not for their injury;
  • pre-incident lifestyle: injured claimants who formerly engaged in activities they can no longer participate in may experience greater impact from their injuries;
  • occupation: greater compensation will be payable where a person’s ability to work in their former occupation is impacted severely by their injuries.

What time limits apply to a nerve damage claim? 

Time limits apply to start a nerve damage claim

For most personal injury claims, a legal action must be commenced within 3 years of the date of the injury. If you miss this deadline, you will lose the right to claim compensation.

However, depending on where your injury occurred or who you are claiming against, specific pre-court procedures may apply which may have much shorter time limits. If you miss these time limits you may lose your right to claim unless you can provide good reason for delaying and why you should be allowed to proceed with your claim. 

Those aged under 18 will typically have until they are 21 to start the claims process.

In addition, getting accurate records such as CCTV or reliable witness statements for example may be difficult if starting a claim several years after the incident.

In summary, it’s best to seek expert legal advice as soon as possible to ensure you understand your rights and the required evidence to make a strong claim can be gathered. View time limit information article for more detail.

What to do if you have suffered nerve damage or injury

Depending on the nature of your injury and the circumstances which caused it, compensation may or may not be available. You should always seek expert legal help to see if you are able to make a claim.

Strict time limits apply - seek legal advice ASAP - In most circumstances, the time limit to start a compensation claim is 3 years from the date of incident. Some processes need to be started much sooner. Call us on 1800 266 801 or start a live chat

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Last update on:
June 1, 2021
Disclaimer: This information is designed for general information in relation to Queensland compensation law. It does not constitute legal advice. We strongly recommend you seek legal advice in regards to your specific situation. For expert advice call 1800 266 801 or chat via live chat to arrange free initial advice with our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith.

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