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Missed Fractured Back Compensation Claims Guide – How To Claim Compensation For A Misdiagnosed Fractured Back

Missed fractured back compensation claims

Missed fractured back compensation claims

By Mark Ainsdale. Last updated 14th July 2021. Welcome to our fractured vertebrae compensation guide. When you sustain a fractured back, it is important to have the fracture diagnosed properly so that the right treatment is provided to enable it to heal correctly and adequate pain medication can be prescribed. Missed fractures can result in ongoing pain, incorrect healing of the bone and, therefore, further health problems as a result.

A missed back fracture could result in permanent mobility problems. A delay in diagnosing fractured vertebrae in the back can lead to more extensive and complicated treatment than if it had been diagnosed straight away.

If you have had a back fracture misdiagnosed and have suffered further as a result, you may be eligible to make a personal injury claim for medical negligence. Medical Negligence Assist has a panel of experienced personal injury solicitors that specialise in medical negligence cases. If you need further advice after reading this guide or would like to make a successful claim, call 0800 652 3087.

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A Guide To Misdiagnosed Back Fractures

A spinal fracture can occur anywhere along the spine and can have devastating consequences depending on the type and severity of the fracture. The backbone and spinal column, also known as the vertebral column, are essential parts of the human anatomy to give strength and support for the body allowing us to stand and walk upright, and more importantly, protection of the spinal cord, which encases important nerves that allow the brain to send signals to other areas of the body. When the back becomes damaged, such as a thoracic spine fracture, a spinal compression fracture or a lumbar spine fracture, for example, it can cause tremendous pain and suffering, and problems with mobility and other bodily functions, and if left undiagnosed, further problems could develop due to essential treatment being delayed.

In this comprehensive fractured vertebrae compensation guide, you will find lots of information regarding compensation claims for missed vertebrae fractures. We first look at what a misdiagnosis of a fracture is and how and why it may happen and look at how a fractured back or broken back may occur. We look at the symptoms of a fractured back, how back fractures are diagnosed and treated, what your rights are as a patient, and what circumstances may entitle you to make a compensation claim and what may be included in the claim. The guide also informs you of the personal injury claims time limit and how using a No Win No Fee personal injury lawyer can maximise the potential of successfully securing the highest amount of compensation possible for your individual case. It also briefly looks at the amount of compensation you may receive if successful.

If you have further questions or would like Medical Negligence Assist to run your claim for you on your behalf, if, after reading through the guide, just give us a call, and we will endeavour to be of service.

What Is A Misdiagnosed Broken Or Fractured Back?

A back fracture or broken back may be missed if a doctor fails to recognise the signs of a fractured back and refer a patient for diagnostic testing. A misdiagnosis for, say, soft tissue injuries may happen due to various reasons, but health care providers have a duty of care to their patients to correctly diagnose and treat health conditions, including correctly diagnosing fractures and broken bones. If they fail to do this due to a negligent error, they may have breached their duty of care. Having a back fracture misdiagnosed will result in further pain and suffering for the patient and possibly leave them in need of more invasive and complicated treatment of the fracture than if it had been diagnosed in the first instance.

Why Are Broken Or Fractured Backs Misdiagnosed?

A missed injury such as missed spine fractures may occur due to several different reasons, these include:

  • An inexperienced junior doctor failing to request an x-ray of the injury site
  • Failing to offer an x-ray due to the way the symptoms are presented
  • Failing to spot the fracture on the x-ray
  • The x-ray taken was of the wrong area or view, and so the fracture was not able to be seen
  • The x-ray results were misinterpreted
  • The x-ray report was not passed on to the doctor for examining

For a misdiagnosed back fracture compensation claim to be successful, you must be able to prove that the medical professional who saw you acted negligently in their assessment of your injury resulting in the misdiagnosis and therefore delayed treatment of the injury resulting in further pain, suffering and complications. If the misdiagnosis was rectified quickly and no further problems were experienced due to the misdiagnosis, it’s most likely that a personal injury claim would be invalid. The team at Medical Negligence Assist can look at the details surrounding your potential fractured vertebrae compensation claim and assess whether you have a valid case or not.

How Are Back Fractures Caused?

Back fractures can be caused by various circumstances and vary in severity. They can occur anywhere along the spinal column, most commonly in the thoracic spine and lumbar spine areas, which are the mid-back and lower-back, respectively. Common causes of back fractures are often due to high energy trauma accidents. Still, they can also be due to a condition called osteoporosis, a thinning of the bones, which can cause spinal compression fractures and other underlying health conditions. Common causes of back fractures include:

  • Road traffic accidents such as an accident involving cars or motorcycles
  • Sports accidents
  • Falling from a height
  • Being the victim of a violent assault
  • Osteoporosis or other underlying conditions

Knowing the cause of the injury may help make a diagnosis of the fracture as different causes are associated with different types of fractures. Types of fractures and more commonly associated causes include:

  • Spinal compression fracture – These usually occur when the front (lateral spine) part of the vertebrae breaks and so loses height, but the back (posterior spine) part remains intact. In most cases, these types of fractures are considered stable as the bones do not move out of place and are rarely associated with neurological problems. These are more likely to occur in someone with osteoporosis or other underlying health conditions.
  • Axiel Burst Fracture – Often the result of landing on the feet from falling from a height, these fractures result in both the front and back of the spine losing height.
  • Flexion / Distraction Chance fracture – More commonly seen in road traffic accidents where the upper body is thrust forward whilst the lower body is kept back by a seat belt, this type of fracture is where the vertebra is effectively pulled apart.
  • Fracture – Dislocation – An injury involving the soft tissues and bone where one vertebra moves or is displaced from another. This is an unstable injury that often results in compression of the spinal cord.
  • Transverse Process Fracture – This is a less common fracture caused by extreme rotation or bending sideways but doesn’t normally affect stability.

Getting the right diagnosis of the injury is essential in then prescribing the correct treatment. If not, then you could look at claiming fractured vertebrae compensation.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Fractured Back?

Symptoms of a vertebral fracture will vary depending on the type of fracture, the location in the spine and its severity. Common symptoms of a fractured or broken back may include:

  • Pain
  • Neck and back stiffness
  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Swelling
  • Muscle spasms
  • Weakness
  • Changes to the bowel and bladder function
  • Digestive problems
  • Breathing problems
  • Loss of height
  • A stoop or curve shape to the spine
  • Mobility problems
  • Paralysis

Thankfully not all spinal fractures will result in an injury to the spinal cord.

How To Treat And Diagnose Back Fractures

To diagnose a back fracture, the patient will need to have a thorough medical examination by a healthcare professional. The doctor examining will ask several questions to determine the cause of the injury and look at the patient’s symptoms. They will look for swelling and tenderness if the spine’s shape has curved and how the injury is affecting the patient physically, such as whether they are experiencing mobility problems, for example.

Now, an x-ray is usually offered. But a more in-depth scan such as an MRI or CT scan may also be offered if the doctor felt necessary to get a more detailed image of the fracture. Once an official diagnosis has been made, the doctor can decide on the right type of treatment required and start the treatment straight away. However, if they suggest incorrect treatment, you may be able to claim fractured vertebrae compensation.

Treatment for a vertebral fracture will vary due to several different reasons, such as what type of injury it involves, the severity of the injury, where the injury occurred, the level of pain the patient is experiencing, and the severity of the injury side effects of the injury include. Initially, after the examination, a doctor will usually prescribe painkillers to ease the patient’s suffering a little. The doctor may use a splint to help stabilise and protect the fractured area to reduce any further problems. The doctor may need to use a device to hold the bone in place whilst it heals. This is called immobilisation.

The following may be used to immobilise the fracture:

  • A splint
  • A Cast
  • A Brace
  • A sling – (Used for arm, wrist or hand fractures). These support the fracture and prevent too much movement.

Depending on the type of fracture, not all of the above treatments would be suitable.

With some fractures, including back fractures, surgery is sometimes needed to re-position the bones and then hold them in place by using metal rods, plates, screws, and/or pins.

Another form of treatment may be physical therapy. A physiotherapist will help reduce any resulting stiffness and help to build up strength and muscle gain and increase mobility. They may sometimes also design a programme for you to follow after your fracture has healed to get back to normal, or near-normal, movement if possible.

Incorrectly diagnosing and treating a spinal fracture can result in more extensive treatment being necessary, further pain and suffering and an extended recovery period. For example, if a fracture is left to start healing itself without first being corrected, it may need to be re-broken to be correctly set to heal properly. If it doesn’t heal in the correct position, this can lead to permanent mobility problems and ongoing pain.

If you have had your back fracture misdiagnosed, causing you further suffering, you may be entitled to claim compensation. Medical Negligence Assist can help you to make your fractured vertebrae compensation claim a success.

Eligibility To Make A Claim For A Missed Fractured Back

Deciding on your eligibility to claim a fractured back can be difficult, depending on the circumstances involved. If you have suffered due to a delay in treatment caused by a missed back fracture, then providing you can prove that you were treated negligently, then you should have a valid claim. However, if soon after your back fracture misdiagnosis, the error was realised and you were correctly treated as soon as possible before any further suffering or problems arose, then you would most likely not have a valid claim.

All medical professionals, such as doctors, have a duty of care to provide appropriate medical care and treatment to their patients. If a patent suffers due to a medical error or negligent act by their doctor or other health care professional caring for them, they may be entitled to make a medical negligence claim.

Claims Against GP’s For A Missed Back Fracture

A GP could misdiagnose a fractured back by failing to examine the patient thoroughly, not offering an x-ray, not understanding the results from an x-ray or misinterpreting them, or being inexperienced in back fracture cases. Regardless of whether your GP works under the NHS or privately, they have negligently misdiagnosed your fractured vertebrae, resulting in you suffering further. As a result, you may be entitled to make a claim.

Claims Against Hospitals For Missed Back Fractures

Hospitals are very busy places, and doctors are often under pressure due to having so many patients to attend, particularly in the Accident & Emergency department. However, regardless of how busy they are, you are still entitled to receive a good standard of care, but if the level of care you receive is below standards and your health suffers. As a result, the hospital could be found to be in breach of their duty of care and liable to pay compensation should a claim be brought against them for negligence.

If a doctor fails to correctly diagnose your back fracture due to being overworked and tired, mistakenly not offering an x-ray, or failing to spot the fracture on an x-ray, or not recognising the symptoms as being those of a spinal fracture due to inexperience, for example, then you may have grounds to make a personal injury claim regardless of whether the hospital is under the NHS or privately run. Speak to Medical Negligence Assist for further help and guidance about claiming fractured vertebrae compensation.

What Are My Rights As A Patient?

Patients have certain rights under the NHS to make sure they receive a good standard of medical care. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) check all hospitals and any providers of primary health services such as GPs and dentists, for example, to see if they are meeting government standards. Everyone in the UK has the right to register with a GP within their catchment area. More can be found here regarding patient rights.

How Long Do I Have To Claim For A Misdiagnosed Back Fracture?

When making a personal injury claim, whether for an accident that wasn’t your fault, a personal injury caused by sudden or long-term exposure to something harmful or for medical negligence, for example, personal injury claims time limits apply. In most cases, the limit is 3 years from the date of the accident or diagnosis of the injury being claimed for but can vary, with some only being 2 years.

Accidental InjuryAn injury caused by an accident that was someone else’s fault such as a road traffic accident injury, slip, trip or fall injury or falling from a height3 Years (can vary)
Progressive InjurySuch as deafness or lung disease that has occurred over time due to over exposure to harmful levels of noise or substances for example.3 Years - The time limit will start from the date the injury was first discovered or diagnosed even if some time after initial exposure
Medical NegligenceSuch as a misdiagnosed back fracture3 Years (can vary)

If someone is injured as a child or suffers medical negligence as a child, providing a parent or guardian hasn’t already made a personal injury claim on their behalf, they will have 3 years from the date of their 18th birthday to pursue a claim for damages.

If you are unsure whether you are still within the personal injury claims time limit, contact us at Medical Negligence Assist, and we will be able to help you with this.

Missed Back Fracture Compensation Calculator

The final fractured vertebrae compensation award amount payable when a claim is successful comprises several different elements. These include:

  • General Damages – These cover the actual injury or illness itself. The amount is based heavily on the type and severity of the injury and its effect on the claimant’s well-being and lifestyle.
  • Medical Expenses: If the claimant has incurred medical expenses such as healthcare costs or prescriptions fees, for example, due to their injury, then these should be included in the claim.
  • Travel Expenses – Just the same, if the claimant has incurred travel costs, including any vehicle adaptions, as a result of their injury, then these should be included.
  • Loss of Income – Any wages lost or future wages to be lost due to the claimant’s injury can be considered for the final settlement amount.
  • Care Claim – Any extra help around the home or carer’s needed can be claimed for.

Although we cannot give an accurate estimation of the amount you could receive if your medical negligence claim is successful, in the table below, we can show some of the payment brackets assigned to certain injuries and their severity in accordance with set College Judicial Guidelines.

Type Of InjuryAmount Of CompensationComments
Severe Back Injury£36,390 - £151,070The lower of the bracket for cases of disk damage or fractures and soft tissue damage have lead to chronic conditions despite surgery, such as severe pain, disability, bladder and bowel problems, impaired sexual function and risk of arthritis. The higher of the bracket for all of the above but more severe and with nerve damage, partial paralysis and permanent disability
Moderate Back Injury£11,730 - £36,390Similar to above less the paralysis, and slightly less severe. Surgery will have been needed but some disability, pain and impaired bodily functions still remain. On-going pain. Social and work life may still be affected.
Minor Back Injury£2,300 – £11,730For fractures that heal without the need of surgery. Level of compensation will depend on severity of initial injury, level of pain experienced, any on-going and / permanent effects on daily life and ability to join in in usual social activities and work life, and length of recovery time.
Tetraplegia£304,630 - £379,100Full paralysis. Level of award will depend on whether any pain is present, what the expectation of life is, and the claimant’s awareness of their disability.
Paraplegia£205,580 - £266,740Level award will depend on degree of pain experienced, depression, extent of their disability and level of independence and if there is chance of paralysis getting worse.

The amounts shown are just for the injury itself and not reflect the total amount you could receive.

No Win No Fee Claims For A Misdiagnosed Back Fracture

Making a medical negligence claim can be a very complex process. We advise hiring an experienced medical negligence lawyer to make your claim on your behalf for the best chance of a victorious outcome. However, we understand that many people have concerns over the cost of legal help and can afford the fees, especially if the claim takes some months to conclude. With this in mind, our panel of solicitors offer a no win no fee policy whereby no fees are due to be paid before or during the claiming process. Instead, they are only paid at the end of the claim, and only if the claim is successful, as a percentage (maximum 25%) of the final settlement amount. If the claim is not successful, we will not charge our legal fees.

Begin Your Medical Negligence Claim

To start your claim today, contact Medical Negligence Assist on 0800 652 3087, and we will do our best to secure the maximum amount of compensation we can for you.

Where To Learn More

Misdiagnosis Negligence Claims – Further advice on how to claim compensation if you have suffered from a misdiagnosis.

Missed Elbow Fracture – Further advice on how to claim compensation if you have suffered from a misdiagnosis.

Missed Finger Fracture – Further advice on how to claim compensation if you have suffered from a misdiagnosis.

Osteoporosis Information – Osteoporosis can be one of the causes of bone fractures. Find out more in this NHS guide.

Choices And Patient Rights Within The NHS – Find out your choices and rights as a patient within the NHS.

Back Fractures Explained (NHS) – Here, you will find lots more information about the spine and spinal fractures.

Fractured Vertebrae Compensation FAQs

How much are spinal injuries worth?

Spinal injuries can greatly vary in value depending on their severity. So, for instance, a basic back injury will be worth far less in compensation than quadriplegia or tetraplegia.

How do you sit with a fractured vertebrae?

You can push yourself upwards to reach a sitting position while lowering your legs slowly until they reach the floor.

Can you walk with a fractured vertebrae?

This depends on how serious the injury is, but those with only a minor vertebrae fracture could still walk.

How serious is a fractured vertebrae?

Such an injury could be very serious if it causes long-term trauma, instability and permanent spinal damage.

What is the recovery time for a fractured vertebrae?

A basic spinal fracture injury generally heals within 6-12 weeks.

How are injury compensation amounts calculated?

This happens by combining general and special damages. Pain, suffering, and amenity loss make up the former, while additional costs relating to your injury comprise the latter.

How do you rehab a fractured vertebrae?

Methods to assist recovery include wearing a back brace, taking medication, resting and avoiding any intense movements or activities.

Can you have a fractured vertebrae and not know it?

This is possible because not all back fractures will cause pain. However, it’s very unlikely for a serious injury that you wouldn’t notice the pain at some stage.

Written by Kelly

Edited by LisM.

Thank you for reading our guide on fractured vertebrae compensation.