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06 Oct, 2021/ by National Accident Helpline /Campaigns

Differences in compensation amounts for similar back injuries

With October 4th seeing the beginning of Back Care Awareness Week we're calling on the government to recognise the massive disparity in the amount the public can claim in compensation for back injuries depending on where their injury took place.

Our analysis revealed huge differences in the amount that could be claimed for back injuries depending on whether an accident took place in road traffic accidents (RTAs), at work or in a public setting.

Compensation awarded for back injuries acquired in the workplace (whereby the employer was at fault) can be up to eight times higher than compensation for the same injuries sustained in RTAs.

With those suffering these injuries not being at fault, we're asking why there's so much inconsistency in claim amounts and what can be done to rectify this growing issue.

Disparity in Compensation

Our research was based on injuries sustained through no fault of the injured person but found that the amount of compensation that they could claim differs greatly simply based on where the injury took place.

In cases where the same injury takes place, with the same recovery period and the same disruption to a person's life, the amount of compensation available to help the injured person recover differs depending on if the injury took place in a public place, in their workplace, or in an RTA.

To add context to this disparity, an individual sustaining a soft tissue injury to their back at work can expect to receive over eight times more in compensation than someone suffering the same injury in a car accident.

Whiplash Reforms

The recent road traffic whiplash reforms are the cause of this disparity. Introduced by the government in May 2021, the whiplash reforms focus on helping to lower the cost of car insurance premiums by reducing the number and value of minor, exaggerated or fraudulent RTA claims.

The reform package introduced fixed tariff damages for RTA whiplash claims, while increasing the size limit of claims that could be managed through the RTA small claims track. These changes resulted in both the potential amount of compensation awarded for RTA injuries, as well as the associated costs for claims, being lower.

Four months on from these reforms our analysis highlights inequality that may have arisen from the policy change.

The disparity stems from the fact that before the Covid-19 pandemic around 650,000 motor claims were made a year, 85% of which were whiplash-related. The reforms now mean that motorists who are involved in an RTA and receive an injury through no fault of their own receive less compensation to help with their rehabilitation than if the same injury occurred elsewhere.

Commenting on the whiplash reforms earlier this year the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) noted that:

The Whiplash Injury Regulations 2021 will put into force a new tariff of compensation for pain and suffering for some people with whiplash injuries after a car crash. The amounts in the tariff which have been produced by the government, however, are derisory, offensive, and certain to result in under-compensation.

This potential for a victim of an RTA injury to receive unfair compensation is highlighted when compared to other forms of compensation. As an example, someone sustaining a three month back injury in an RTA would recover just half the amount of compensation that they could receive if their flight was delayed at an airport.

Raising Awareness

In recognition of Back Care Awareness Week, we're aiming to raise awareness of this inconsistency between compensation amounts for the same injury and urge the government to consider the unfair nature of unequal amounts of compensation being awarded for the same injury.

Jonathan White, our Legal and Compliance Director, said:

We're calling out to the government today to look into the shocking disparity in compensation claims for back injuries that people have sustained through no fault of their own.

To have up to eight times more compensation for the same back injury, but due to a different cause, is not ethically right. Ultimately, the person who receives the injury is going to be affected in the same way and so should be compensated in the same way.

We're keen to help raise awareness of the differences in compensation for the same injury to ensure people are no longer left out of pocket, or financially impacted, through an accident that wasn't their fault.

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