How Much Compensation Can I Claim For A Missed Fracture?

By Stephen Lambert. Last Updated 4th June 2024. Suffering a broken or fractured bone can cause a lot of pain and leave you unable to carry out everyday tasks. It could also take away your ability to work. If you have broken or fractured a bone, you should be entitled to the best possible level of medical care. You should not be left with a missed fracture, a lack of diagnosis and no treatment.

If you are being treated by a medical professional through the NHS or a private medical service provider you will very likely receive a high level of care. This does not however mean that mistakes do not happen and that fractures may be missed on an X-ray or through other diagnostic means. Missed fractures could lead to your injury becoming much worse over time. You could even end up with a long-term injury. If you have fractured a bone, but the doctor missed the fracture, this delay in you getting the right treatment you may end up in a worse state. You could contract an infection or develop Osteoarthritis.

Even if you do not develop any additional complications or find your injury becomes worse, simply having a missed fracture or undiagnosed broken bone is likely to leave you in a lot of pain which could have been avoided. If you have had to pay for any private medical care as a result, you could also have been left out of pocket.

If you have been affected by a broken bone not being diagnosed, you could make a missed fracture compensation claim. Talk to our team today to learn more about how a medical negligence solicitor could help you to claim compensation. You can also contact our team at 0800 652 3087.

a picture of a chest x ray with a doctor's clipboard and stethoscope on top

Select A Section

  1. What Are Missed Fractures
  2. Can I Claim Compensation For A Missed Fracture?
  3. Time Limit For A Missed Fracture Claim
  4. Why Might A Fracture Be Misdiagnosed?
  5. How Much Compensation Can I Claim For A Missed Fracture?
  6. What Complications Could Result From An Untreated Fracture?
  7. Your Rights As A Healthcare Patient
  8. No Win No Fee Misdiagnosed Or Missed Fracture Claims
  9. Reference Materials For Medical Misdiagnosis

What Are Missed Fractures?

Missed fractures are breaks or fractures to bones which are not correctly diagnosed and are not treated by a medical professional. It may involve a missed fracture on an X-ray or a doctor failing to carry out the correct examination of the patient. The fracture may range significantly in severity but regardless of how serious the fracture may be, all broken bones should be properly diagnosed and treated. This failure by the treating physician could be termed medical negligence.

If your fracture was not diagnosed or treated correctly, you could make a medical negligence claim through a personal injury solicitor.

Can I Claim Compensation For A Missed Fracture?

All patients are owed a duty of care by any medical professional who provides a diagnosis or any other treatment. As part of their duty, medical professionals should deliver a minimum standard of care and prevent their patients from coming to unnecessary harm.

If you visit a hospital with a fracture and the injury is either missed or misdiagnosed as a sprain or another type of injury, then this may cause unnecessary harm. It could also cause a delay in receiving the treatment you require. Or you may receive other treatments that are unnecessary.

You could be eligible to start a missed fracture claim if you can establish the following with evidence:

  • A duty of care was owed to you by a medical professional.
  • A medical professional breached a duty of care they owed you.
  • You suffered unnecessary harm as a result.

For more advice about your eligibility to claim or other parts of the claiming process, such as the potential missed fracture compensation amount that could be offered, contact our advisors for free today.

Time Limit For A Missed Fracture Claim

The Limitation Act 1980 establishes a three-year time limit for starting a medical negligence claim, such as a missed fracture claim. This usually begins from the date the medical negligence occurred or the date you realised or were expected to have known that it had happened. The latter is known as the date of knowledge.

The time limit can work differently under some circumstances. If a child has been affected by a missed fracture diagnosis, then the time limit for starting a claim will be put on hold until they turn 18. A litigation friend could start a claim on the child’s behalf before the day they reach their 18th birthday. If no claim has been made by this date, they will have until their 21st birthday to begin their own legal proceedings.

If a party affected by a missed fracture lacks the mental capacity to start their own claim, then the time limit for claiming will be frozen indefinitely. In this scenario, a litigation friend could start a claim on behalf of the party that has been harmed by medical negligence. If the injured party later regains their mental capacity and a claim has not been made, then they will have three years to start a claim from the day of recovery.

For more advice on the time limit for starting a claim, or what missed fracture compensation amount may be awarded if you have a valid case, contact our team for free today.

Why Might A Fracture Be Misdiagnosed?

When looking at a medical negligence claim for a missed break, why the injury was missed by the doctor could be integral to the claimant being able to seek missed fracture compensation. For example, if it could be shown that any other doctor would also have missed that injury, then there may not be grounds for such a claim.

Breaks and fractures could fail to be diagnosed for several reasons, but there are some causes which may be seen more frequently.

  • There may be an instance of a missed fracture on an x-ray.
  • A missed fracture in an A&E department could happen because a doctor failed to carry out the correct examination or because they failed to see the break on x-rays.
  • Commonly missed fractures in radiology results not being passed on to a doctor.
  • Fractures being missed because x-rays are not requested.

Whether there was a missed fracture due to a radiology error because a thorough and competent assessment was not carried out, you could be able to make a missed fracture claim.

How Much Compensation Can I Claim For A Missed Fracture?

Following a successful medical negligence claim for a missed fracture, your compensation settlement will include general damages. This head of loss compensates you for the pain and suffering the medical negligence has caused you.

It is important to note that you will only be compensated for the unnecessary harm you have suffered due to a healthcare professional breaching their duty of care, and not for your original fracture.

Those valuing your claim for general damages could refer to the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG). This document lists compensation guidelines for various forms of harm and we have listed some in the table below, aside from the first entry.

Please only use this table as a guide.

Harm SeverityCompensation GuidelinesNotes
Multiple Severe Forms Of Harm With Special DamagesSevereUp to £250,000+Compensation for suffering multiple severe forms of harm and their special damages such as lost wages and medical expenses.
NeckSevere (ii)£80,240 to £159,770Serious fractures that result in serious disabilities such as permanent damage to the brachial plexus.
BackSevere (iii)£47,320 to £85,100Disc fractures or leisons causing chronic conditions despite treatment.
Moderate (i)£33,880 to £47,320A crush or compression fracture to the lumbar vertebrae causing constant pain.
ArmPermanent and Substantial Disablement£47,810 to £73,050Serious fractures to both or one forearms causing a functional or cosmetic disablement.
Simple£8,060 to £23,430Simple fractures affecting one forearm.
LegSevere (iii) Serious£47,840 to £66,920Serious comminuted or compound fractures causing instability.
FootModerate£16,770 to £30,500Displaced metatarsal fractures leading to a permanent deformity.
Pelvis & HipsLesser injuries (i)£4,820 to £15,370Fractures that make a complete recovery within 2 years are covered under this bracket.

Special Damages In Medical Negligence Claims

You may also be eligible to receive special damages as part of your compensation settlement. This head of loss compensates you for the financial losses the medical negligence has caused you. Some examples may include:

  • A loss of earnings.
  • Medical expenses.
  • Care costs.
  • Travel expenses.

Evidence will need to be provided of these losses with documents such as payslips and bank statements.

For a free valuation of your potential medical negligence claim, you can contact our advisors.

What Complications Could Result From An Untreated Fracture?

If injuries to bones are not diagnosed (such as missed stress fractures, or missed fractures in a foot) or if they are not treated, the patient could subsequently develop several different complications. In some instances, these may be life-threatening to the patient.

Complications which could arise due to a broken bone not being treated may be:

  • Fat Embolism. After a fracture, a broken bone may release fat deposits into the bloodstream. This could cause blockages in oxygen getting to vital organs.
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis. In DVT, blood clots form deep veins, such as those of the legs. They could be caused by a broken bone damaging a vein. If this blood clot travels around the body it could be fatal if it reaches the lungs.
  • Acute Compartment Syndrome. This describes situations where swelling and/ or bleeding happens in an enclosed muscle group, requiring urgent medical intervention. If not acted upon quickly, it may lead to serious damage to the muscle. If infection sets in, the muscle and surrounding tissues may require amputation.
  • Osteomyelitis. In such cases, bacteria are able to get into the site of the fracture and to infect the bone which has been broken. If this infection is not treated gangrene may set in. in the most extreme cases, the patient may require surgical intervention and amputation.
  • Avascular Necrosis. In these cases, the bone does not receive a sufficient supply of blood if blood vessels are damaged by the fracture. If the blood flow is not restored there may be bone death and related joints may be seriously affected or experience destruction.

Other possible consequences of a broken bone not being diagnosed and for which a missed fracture claim could be made, may include long-term stiffness in a joint. Bones which heal without proper treatment may be misaligned. Patients could be left with arthritis or permanent disability.

Your Rights As A Healthcare Patient

If you are being treated by the NHS, the NHS constitution sets out your rights as a patient. It also sets out what rights people have as members of the public and as a staff member working for the NHS. The constitution states what commitments the NHS has to patients and staff as well the services responsibility to patients.

As a patient you have the right to be treated fairly and effectively. This right is applicable whether dealing directly with the NHS or with those supplying services to the NHS, such as health centres run by third-party healthcare providers for the NHS.

You can find the constitution for NHS England here.

No Win No Fee Misdiagnosed Or Missed Fracture Claims

In most cases where you have been affected by a missed break, such as a missed fracture in your foot, you are likely to be able to make a no win no fee medical malpractice claim. If you are able to make a no win no fee claim, the solicitor would take on your claim (such as a claim for missed spine fractures) without you having to worry about making payments upfront for any legal fees. The simplest way to put this is that if your solicitor takes on your claim but does not secure you compensation, there will not be anything to pay them. There are no catches. If you do not win, you do not pay.

If the solicitor you work with is able to win your claim, they will probably take something called a success fee. This may be taken from the settlement you are awarded. It could amount to up to 25% of this total but is not likely to be more as there are legal limits in place.

How much you will be charged and how you will be charged will be discussed with you before a solicitor would agree to take on your claim.

To find out if you could make a no win no fee medical negligence claim, it is a good idea to speak to a personal injury solicitor who specialises in claims for medical negligence. Getting independent legal advice could help you to know what your options are and whether or not you could make a claim. You can call us today on 0800 652 3087 to discuss what has happened to you.

A fractured arm wrapped in a plaster cast

Reference Materials For Medical Misdiagnosis

Medical Negligence Assist has used information from a variety of different medical resources as well as personal injury claim information in order to create this detailed guide on missed fracture medical negligence. We should note that the circumstances in this guide could present through NHS negligence or as private medical negligence.

British Medical Journal
This resource looks at Diagnostic Errors In Accident And Emergency Departments which could be made. We can see that of 953 diagnostic errors, 79.7% were missed fractures. The leading cause of these at 77.8% were misreading radiography, such as a missed ankle fracture on an x-ray.

NICE Guidelines
These are guidelines from NICE relating to the assessment and management of non-complex fractures as they can be treated in specific facilities.

NHS Improvement
Information on missed hip fractures including national level incident data presented in a resource from NHS Improvements.

What Is Medical Misdiagnosis?
This guide looks at what medical misdiagnosis is and how to make a personal injury claim. It also includes an example personal injury claims calculator where you could see what you could claim in compensation.

Medical Negligence Claims Against The NHS
In this article, we look at how medical negligence solicitors could help people to claim compensation against the NHS if harmed by negligent medical care.

Other Misdiagnosis Claim Guides