Back Injury Compensation Claims

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If you've recently suffered a back injury as a result of an accident in Queensland, be it on the road, at work or in a public place, you may be entitled to compensation. Accidents happen, but when they're due to someone else's negligence, it's important to know that you understand your rights to a back injury claim.

On this page, we'll explain your rights to make a compensation claim, common causes and types of back injuries, how to lodge a claim, what the time limits in Queensland are, as well as some frequently asked questions.

Smith's Lawyers team of personal injury claim experts offer free initial advice and no-obligation appointments at home, in hospital, in-office or via phone. We operate Queensland-wide and all claims have no upfront costs or risks of being left out of pocket under our No Win, No Fee, No Catch® promise.

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Understanding Your Rights after a Back Injury in Queensland

In 2021-22, there were 177,000 hospitalisations for back problems in Australia. Unfortunately, these injuries are often costly to treat, with the financial burden falling on not only the injured individual but their family members as well. If you’ve sustained a serious back injury due to another person's negligence, it's important to know that you may have the right to compensation to cover these costs. 

These are the compensation schemes available in Queensland: 

  • Car and Road Accidents: In the event of a vehicle-related accident, you can make a claim through the Compulsory Third Party (CTP) Claims Scheme. This is designed to compensate victims of motor accidents when the driver or owner of a motor vehicle is at fault.
  • Work Accidents: If you've suffered a back injury while at work you may be entitled to make a workers’ compensation claim through WorkCover Queensland (or your employer's workplace compensation insurer if they are self-insured). Even if you are at fault, statutory claims can be filed. If, however, you believe your employer was negligent, you can file a common law claim.
  • Public Place Accidents: For injuries sustained in a public place due to negligence, a common law claim can be made against the public liability insurer of the area or person/company responsible for the property.

Seeking legal advice as soon as possible can help you understand what rights you have to make a claim. Smith's Lawyers offer a free case review to help you understand your options.

What is a Back Injury?

A back injury is defined as damage or harm that occurs to the back region, which includes the bones, muscles, nerves, and other structures of the spine. An estimated 4.0 million (16%) people in Australia reported having back problems, making it an extremely common affliction amongst Australians. The severity of back injuries can range from mild discomfort to debilitating pain, often impairing one's ability to perform everyday tasks. 

The characterisation and symptoms of a back injury can differ greatly depending on the area of the back that's been affected. The pain could be sharp or dull, constant or intermittent, and might be localised or radiate to other parts of the body. Other common symptoms may include weakness, numbness, or tingling in the legs or arms.

Common Causes of Back Injuries

Back injuries can happen to anyone and often when we least expect it. The causes of such injuries are often varied. For instance, the most common cause of workplace back injuries in 2021-22 was lifting, pushing, pulling, or bending. However, there are many other circumstances that frequently result in back injuries. 

Here are some of the most common causes of back injury:

  • Car Accidents: High-impact collisions and sudden blows can cause the back to suddenly twist out of shape - particularly if you're not wearing a seatbelt. These are the most common causes of spinal cord injuries in Australia
  • Workplace Injuries: Jobs that involve heavy lifting, bending or twisting can increase the risk of back injuries. A report by Safe Work Australia revealed that 37 per cent of workers' claims were for upper or lower back injuries. A lack of training in proper lifting techniques is often the reason for these injuries.
  • Slips and Falls: Wet floors in shopping centres or uneven, broken pavements are common reasons that lead to sudden and impactful falls causing injury to the back.
  • Incorrect Posture: Habitual poor posture, especially when working at a desk for prolonged periods or lifting heavy objects, can cause chronic back strain over time.
  • Sports Injuries: Contact sports or high-impact activities might lead to back injuries. Not warming up properly beforehand is likely to increase the risk.
Common Types of Back Injuries

Back injuries can range from minor strains to something more serious. If left untreated, some can even develop into conditions that affect your quality of life.  

Some common types of back injury include:

  • Whiplash: This usually occurs during car accidents, when the head suddenly jerks forward and then backwards, causing strain in the neck and back.
  • Herniated or Slipped Disc: Heavy lifting at work or a slip can lead to a disc in the spine moving out of place or rupturing, resulting in nerve pain and weakness.
  • Fractured Vertebrae: A severe injury on the road or a fall from a height can fracture or break one or more vertebrae leading to severe pain and even disability.
  • Spinal Cord Injury: This is one of the most serious types of back injuries. Road or workplace accidents can result in damage to the spinal cord causing loss of sensation or function below the level of injury. Even minor trauma can result in long recovery times.
  • Back Strains or Sprains: These are usually the result of lifting heavy items improperly or slipping on a wet floor. This causes tearing and stretching of the muscles or ligaments in the back.

In Queensland, you have the right to claim if you believe your back injury occurred because of someone else's negligence. You should contact a personal injury lawyer who can discuss your options. Our team at Smith’s Lawyers can provide a free case review if you want to find out more.

Workers Most at Risk of Back Injuries

Back injuries are some of the most frequently reported in the workplace. However, some professions are considered more high-risk than others. 

These include:

  • Construction Workers: They regularly engage in heavy lifting and physically straining tasks that can put excessive pressure on their backs.
  • Nurses and Healthcare Workers: Regular movement and lifting of patients often leads to back injuries - especially conditions that build over time.
  • Warehouse Workers: Constant bending and lifting, particularly when heavy objects are involved, can strain the back.
  • Office Workers: Prolonged periods of sitting, especially if poor posture develops, increases the risk of back pain and injury.
  • Transportation Drivers: Long hours behind the wheel and vibration from the vehicle can lead to back issues over time.
  • Farm Workers: The physical nature of farming tasks, repeatedly bending, lifting, pushing and pulling implements and produce can cause back injuries.

To check your compensation entitlements, request a free case review with our expert lawyers.

Understanding the Compensation Claims Process

It's critical to first seek advice from a medical professional who can diagnose and document your injury. Following this, the claims process can prove to be complex. We aim here to break down the general steps involved when seeking compensation for an injury caused by someone else's negligence in Queensland. 

1. Seek free initial legal advice

The first step is to get in touch with a law firm that specialises in compensation claims for back injuries. Such a firm will have the necessary expertise and understanding of the complexities of Queensland law and can confirm your legal options including eligibility to make a claim. 

2. Engage a personal injury lawyer

After an initial phone assessment, the next stage is a no-obligation consultation to explain the process and client agreement in more detail and to gather initial key information relating to your accident and injury to help assess your case and your injury and identify the liable party. The client agreement will also be explained so you can understand the terms under which the personal injury law operates on. Smith’s Lawyers runs all claims risk-free with no upfront costs.

3. Gather evidence to build your case

Once your compensation matter is opened you will be allocated a personal injury lawyer who will start gathering the required evidence to build a strong case and to determine liability. This may include medical evidence, accident reports, witness statements, CCTV or dashcam footage or documentation of any loss of earnings due to your injury. Further down the track when your injuries have settled, your law firm may arrange for independent medical assessments such as occupational therapy assessment to assess your ability to work, long term recovery prospects and so on.

4. File your claim

Your personal injury solicitor will lodge a notice of claim and negotiate on your behalf with the liable parties, typically with their insurance companies (or their legal representatives) such as the CTP insurer of the at-fault party for car and road accidents or WorkCover Qld for workplace accidents. 

5: Negotiate with the at-fault party's insurer

Negotiations with the insurance company aim to reach a fair settlement that covers your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.

Most cases are settled out of court in a compulsory conference, an office based meeting involving yourself, your personal injury solicitor and a barrister they have engaged to lead the negotiations along with the legal representatives of the at-fault party's insurer. 

In the unlikely event that a settlement cannot be negotiated out of court, proceedings can proceed to court. In most ‘no win, no fee’ agreements, you could be liable for the other side's legal costs if your case is not successful in court. Smith’s Lawyers No Win, No Fee, No Catch® promise protects you from this risk and means you cannot not be out of pocket.

6. Settlement payment

If your claim is successful, you will receive a lump-sum tax free compensation settlement. The amount received will depend on different factors, including the severity of your injury, any impact on your earning capacity, and any medical expenses incurred.

Seek advice ASAP: This is a general guide and any claim you make could involve more, fewer or slightly different steps. You should seek legal advice to understand how your specific circumstances could convert to a claim. A free case review from Smith's Lawyers' expert team of personal injury lawyers could help you do this.

What Evidence Do I Need To Support My Back Injury Compensation Claim? 

In order to receive the compensation you deserve, accumulating essential evidence will significantly strengthen your claim.

The following factors are often critical pieces of evidence when addressing a back injury claim: 

  • Medical records: Detailed and up-to-date records, diagnoses, treatments, and a prognosis from your doctor are incredibly important. These will validate the severity of your injury and the impact on your life.
  • Photos of the accident scene: If possible, take photos of the site where the accident happened immediately after it happened. They can potentially highlight the cause and assign responsibility.
  • Witness statements: If there were any witnesses of your accident, their statements might provide further clarity regarding the incident.
  • Income loss: To claim for lost income, you'll need proof of your regular income before your injury. For example, recent payslips or a letter from your employer presenting your normal working hours and rate of pay.
  • Expense records: Keep a record of every cost connected with your injury. This includes the cost of treatment, medical prescriptions, and transport costs to medical appointments.

Calculating How Much Compensation You Could Get For Your Back Injury

When it comes to calculating compensation for personal injury claims, several key factors come into play: 

  • Economic Loss: This refers to lost wages and Superannuation, past and future, due to the injury. If you have been temporarily or permanently unable to work, the financial toll can be calculated and included in your claim.
  • Medical Expenses: Current and anticipated future medical bills, including costs for medication, therapy, hospitalisation and any ongoing treatments.
  • Pain and Suffering: The pain and discomfort you've experienced due to your back injury, including both physical pain and emotional distress. Keeping a pain diary can help you document this in any potential claim.
  • Care and Assistance: If you've needed assistance in daily tasks or activities due to your back injury, you may be able to claim for such costs.

You’ll probably find it surprising that the same back injury doesn’t always result in the same payout amount. Let's consider the example of two people – an active, outdoor tour guide and an office worker – who suffer the same type of back injury. 

For the tour guide, who relies heavily on being able to walk long distances to do their job, the impact of the injury could be severe - hindering their capacity to continue working. 

By contrast, the office worker, while still suffering, may be able to adapt their work and continue in their job in a similar way to before the accident. It's unlikely to affect things like their ability to progress/be promoted. This could see the tour guide receive more compensation than the office worker.

Since back injury compensation payouts are always based on individual circumstances, it's always advisable to consult with a claims expert who can explain how much compensation you may receive based on your situation.

Time Limits for Back Injuries

Queensland, like all Australian states, has very specific rules around how much time you have to claim compensation. Generally, you must submit a claim within three years of the date when the injury occurred. 

More specifically, for work-related injuries, in Queensland you have:

  • Six months from when the entitlement to make a personal injury workers’ compensation claim arises (this is usually when the injury occurs or the day on which the individual is assessed by a doctor). You need to lodge a claim with WorkCover Queensland (or your employer's workers compensation insurer if self-insured) within this time frame. This is an essential first step for all cases regardless of fault.
  • Three years from the date of the accident/injury to start court proceedings for a common law claim. These claims can be run in addition to a standard WorkCover claim where the negligence of your employer or another party caused or contributed to your accident and injuries.

For motor vehicle-related injuries, in Queensland you have:

  • Nine months from the date of the accident or when injuries first became apparent to lodge a Notice of Accident Claim Form (known as a 'NOAC') with the Compulsory Third Party Insurer (CTP Insurer). A “reasonable excuse for delay” can be provided outside the nine months, but must be within three years of the accident or you will be barred from making a claim. 
  • Or, you have one month from when you first consult with a lawyer about the possibility of making a claim to lodge the form. When running a claim with Smith’s Lawyers, your appointed solicitor will help you complete and submit this form.  Note: This time limit is the earlier of the two (one month vs nine months), so if you have spoken to a lawyer about your potential claim, you must lodge the NOAC within one month.
  • Where the motor vehicle at fault cannot be identified (such as in a hit and run) or the vehicle was unregistered, you have three months from the date of the accident to lodge a Notice of Accident Claim form with the Nominal Defendant. For these claims, if you have missed the three-month period, a reasonable excuse can be provided, but it must be provided within the standard nine-month limit otherwise you will be barred from making a claim
  • After the Notice of Claim Form is lodged, you have three years from the date of the accident/injury to start legal proceedings.

For injuries in a public place, the time frames are similar to motor-vehicle claims (nine months from the date of the accident or one month from when you contact a lawyer). However, instead of submitting a Notice of Accident Claim Form, you lodge a PIPA Notice of Claim with the negligent party. Your legal team can help with understanding this form.

It's also worth noting there are exceptions. For instance, for victims under 18, this three-year period doesn't start until their 18th birthday. 

These time frames might seem like a lot of time, but setting your claim into motion can be a complex process with many legal requirements to navigate. 

At Smith’s Lawyers, our team can help you understand these time limits and ensure you don't miss your chance for a claim. We offer Queensland-wide service with free and no-obligation case reviews. Our No Win, No Fee, No Catch® promise means you have nothing to lose in seeking your rightful compensation.

To check your compensation entitlements, request a free case review with our expert lawyers.

Frequently Asked Questions

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How long will it take to get a payout for my compensation claim?

The duration of injury compensation claims can vary widely, however, typically a straightforward case around 12 to 18 months to resolve. The process can take longer for more complex cases that have multiple variables to consider. Your solicitor will be able to give you a better idea of how long your case could take.

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How can back injuries impact the ability to work?

Back injuries can significantly impact your capacity to perform regular work tasks. Depending on the severity of your injury and the nature of the work you do, you might experience difficulty in carrying out manual tasks, have trouble sitting or standing for extended periods, or even be incapable of doing your job at all. 

It's crucial to understand that your ability to earn income may be compromised after a back injury. We strongly advise taking steps to safeguard your future, to mitigate any potential negative financial impact. Don’t hesitate to seek professional legal advice as soon as possible.

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Are there any upfront costs or risks?

No, our No Win, No Fee, No Catch® promise at Smith’s Lawyers means there are no upfront costs and you can never be left out of pocket as a result of the claim. Typically with ‘no win, no fee’ agreements, you could still be liable for the other side's legal costs if your case goes to court and is unsuccessful. In the unlikely event that your case goes to court and does not achieve an injury compensation payout, we'll cover the costs - so you won't pay a cent to us or anyone else.

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Get expert advice today

To check your compensation entitlements, request a free case review with our expert lawyers. We can explain your options to Back Injury Compensation claims so you are clear on your rights during this difficult time.

Take our 2-minute free claim check

Fill in the form below to find out if you have a claim.

Last updated:
February 19, 2024

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 help understanding your rights, please call 1800 960 482 or request a free case review to talk to one of our lawyers today.