A soft tissue injury refers to trauma to the muscles, tendons, ligaments or nerves. The most common soft tissue injuries include sprains, strains, contusions, tendonitis and lacerations. These can be painful and debilitating and lead to long-term or permanent health problems.
Soft tissue injuries can have many different causes, including road traffic accidents, accidents at work, sports injuries and accidents in public. Most soft tissue injuries are acute and are caused by sudden trauma, while others occur gradually over time due to overuse and repetitive movements.
If your injury was partially or entirely due to someone else’s negligence, you might be able to make a soft tissue injury claim. You could recover damages for your pain, suffering and all the financial losses and expenses caused by your accident, such as lost wages, if you had to take time off work.
To find out whether you could claim compensation for soft tissue damage, call 0800 678 1410 or request a call back to receive a free consultation with a legal adviser. If your case has merit, they will offer you a no win no fee service, so there will be no financial risk involved in taking legal action.
Can I make a soft tissue injury claim?
Under UK law, every victim of a personal injury caused by another person’s negligence is entitled to claim compensation for their pain, suffering and financial losses. If you are unsure whether you have grounds to make a soft tissue injury claim, a free consultation with a legal adviser is usually enough to confirm your eligibility.
As a general rule, a claim should be possible if:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care
- They breached their duty by acting negligently towards you
- Their negligence caused an accident to occur
- You sustained a soft tissue injury during the accident
- Your accident and injury occurred no longer than three years ago
Your solicitor will help clarify whether the defendant owed you a duty of care by referring to relevant legislations, such as:
- The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 – states the duties and responsibilities employers must comply with to protect the health and safety of employees at work;
- The Road Traffic Act 1988 – places a duty of care on all road users to exercise reasonable care for their safety and that of others by not engaging in speeding and other dangerous behaviours;
- The Highways Act 1980 – according to this Act, the local authorities have a legal duty to inspect and maintain all public places, so they are safe and in good working order;
- The Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 – states that the owner of a private business, such as a restaurant, shop or hotel, must take all reasonable steps to keep the premises safe for visitors.
Usually, it is the injured person who will claim soft tissue injury compensation, but that is not always the case. People under 18 or those who lack the mental capacity to take legal action will need a litigation friend to claim on their behalf. If you want to pursue compensation on behalf of a loved one, you must file an application with the court stating that:
- You can conduct legal proceedings in a fair and competent manner
- You have no conflict of interest with the injured party
- You undertake to pay any costs and fees requested by the court
To find out if you or a loved one have a valid soft tissue injury claim, call 0800 678 1410 or request a call back to receive a free consultation with a legal adviser. They will let you know if you are entitled to make a claim and can answer any questions you may have.
What is a soft tissue injury?
Soft tissues are essential structures found throughout the body. They support and connect organs and other body parts, give shape and stability to the body, store energy and protect vital organs. A soft tissue injury refers to damage to any of the body’s soft tissues, which include:
- Blood vessels
Soft tissue injuries may be due to acute trauma, such as a fall, twist, or blow to the body or due to overuse, which does not allow the tissues time to recover between activities. The most common symptoms of a soft tissue injury include:
- Bruising or discolouration
- Swelling and tenderness
- Joint instability
- Muscle weakness, cramps and spasms
- Limited range of motion
- Inability to put pressure on the affected area
There are many different types of soft tissue damage, but the most common types that lead to a soft tissue injury claim include the following:
A sprain is a stretch or tear of a ligament, a band of tissue that connects the end of one bone to another. Sprain injuries are classified from minor to severe, which will determine the treatment needed to recover. Slight stretching may heal without medical intervention, while severe sprains may require surgery to repair the torn ligament.
A strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon that often occurs in the back or leg. Similar to a sprain, it may range from a simple stretch to a partial or complete tear, which usually requires surgical intervention. Symptoms include pain, muscle spasms and weakness, swelling and inflammation.
Bruises or contusions
Bruises occur when a body area is suddenly subject to blunt trauma, crushing underlying muscle fibres and connective tissue without breaking the skin. Most contusions are mild and may result in swelling, bleeding and discolouration. If symptoms persist or are severe, you should seek medical care to prevent permanent damage.
Cuts and lacerations
Cuts and lacerations are skin wounds caused by contact with a sharp object but can also be due to blunt trauma sustained in a slip, trip or fall, a fall from height and other accidents. The treatment for minor cuts involves cleaning and dressing the wound. Severe lacerations may need stitches, leave permanent scarring, and also affect the underlying tissues such as nerves or tendons.
A crush injury occurs when a considerable force or pressure is put on a body part, most often when part of the body is squeezed between two heavy objects. Common causes include road traffic accidents, building collapses and machinery accidents at work. Severe crushing injuries may lead to the amputation of the affected body part.
Burn injuries may be superficial and affect only the first layer of skin, or they may extend through the skin and into the underlying fat and muscle. Severe burns may also damage the ligaments, tendons, nerves and blood vessels of the affected area and can have devastating consequences. Besides fire, burns may also be due to chemicals, electricity and friction.
The nervous system controls every aspect of our lives, such as breathing, moving, sleeping and eating. Nerve injuries can occur in many ways, including negligent surgery, birth injuries, electric shocks and acute trauma sustained in a variety of accidents. Severe nerve injuries may lead to muscle weakness, loss of bowel and bladder control, chronic pain and even paralysis.
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a repetitive strain injury caused by damage to the median nerve on the palm side of the hand. Symptoms include weakness in the hands, difficulty gripping, pain, and pins and needles. Depending on the severity, treatment can include surgical and non-surgical options, such as splints and anti-inflammatory medication.
Tendonitis is a type of overuse injury to the tendons and is the most common cause of shoulder and leg pain. Other commonly affected areas include the elbows, wrists, hips and knees. Tendonitis is often caused by sports such as tennis and golf or by manual handling and other repetitive tasks in the workplace.
The type of soft tissue injury you suffered will not affect your eligibility to claim but will likely impact the final compensation award.
What are the most common causes of soft tissue injuries?
Soft tissue injuries are very common and can happen in many different environments and types of accidents. The most common causes leading to a soft tissue injury claim include the following:
Road traffic accidents
Road traffic accidents are among the most common causes of soft tissue injuries, especially to vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorbike riders. These include bruising, lacerations, crushing injuries, sprains and strains.
One of the most common traumas sustained in a car accident is whiplash, caused by the sudden movement of the head during a collision, especially when hit from behind. If another person caused your accident by acting negligently, you might be due soft tissue injury compensation.
In the workplace, soft tissue injuries may be due to acute trauma such as a forklift accident or may develop over time due to vibrating machinery, improper manual handling techniques and overuse. All employers are legally obliged to carry out regular risk assessments and have safety procedures in place to prevent accidents.
If your employer breached their duty of care towards you, you might be able to make a soft tissue injury claim against them. This includes failing to provide proper training, personal protective equipment or a safe working environment.
Accidents in public
Some of the most common accidents in public include slips, trips and falls, being hit by falling objects, electric shocks and falls from height. These are often due to preventable hazards, such as slippery floors, defective pavements, objects left in walkways, and poorly stacked shelves in supermarkets.
The local authorities and private business owners must take all reasonable measures to keep public premises safe and in good working order. Otherwise, they may be liable to pay you compensation for soft tissue damage.
Almost every sport carries a risk for soft tissue injuries such as sprains, strains, bruising or tendonitis. Most sporting injuries are nobody’s fault, but some accidents could be prevented through proper training and taking all the necessary safety precautions.
Some of the sports with the highest risk of injury include horse riding, skiing, tennis, golf, football and other contact sports. If your injury was due to a lack of adequate equipment, dangerous ground conditions, bad advice or other types of negligence, you might be able to take legal action.
Criminal assaults and other violent crimes can have severe consequences. Besides physical injuries such as bruising, cuts and lacerations, they also usually cause severe emotional and psychological trauma that you can include in your soft tissue injury claim.
Most often, the offender of a violent crime is either unidentified or does not have the means to pay you compensation. That is why the Ministry of Justice set up the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority to pay compensation to blameless victims of assault and other crimes. To qualify for a CICA claim, you must take legal action within two years after the attack and cooperate fully with police investigations.
A dog attack can cause severe injury to the skin and soft tissues. They can crush or tear the skin and muscles, cause severe puncture wounds, and leave the victim permanently scarred or disfigured. Without proper treatment, even a minor skin injury can lead to a bacterial infection, with severe consequences.
If a dog has bitten you, you should be able to make a soft tissue injury claim against its owner. You might be able to claim compensation even if you were attacked by a stray dog, usually from the local authorities or the CICA.
If you received substandard care from a medical professional and suffered a soft tissue injury as a result, you might be able to claim compensation. The most common types of medical negligence claims include misdiagnosis, surgical mistakes, medication errors and birth injuries.
Medical negligence can cause a wide range of soft tissue injuries, including bruising, damage to muscles, nerves and tendons, skin rashes and infections and avoidable cuts and lacerations. Mishandling and other mistakes during birth may cause severe injuries to the skin and soft tissue, potentially causing permanent damage.
A soft tissue injury during your holiday can ruin your experience, especially if it happens abroad. The most common holiday accidents leading to a claim include slips, trips and falls in hotels and restaurants, swimming pool injuries and accidents during an excursion or activity.
If you have been travelling on a package holiday, you might be able to claim compensation for soft tissue damage from the tour operator that arranged your trip. If you have travelled independently, you may still be able to claim against the individual or business responsible for your accident.
If your accident was due to someone else’s negligence, you could be able to claim compensation for soft tissue damage. To find out if your case has merit, call 0800 678 1410 or request a call back to receive a free consultation with a legal adviser.
How do I make a soft tissue injury claim?
If you want to claim compensation for soft tissue damage you suffered due to someone else’s negligence, the first thing you should do is seek legal advice. If your solicitor believes you have a valid claim, they will offer support and advice at every step of the claims process, including:
- Identifying who is responsible for your injuries and who you will make your soft tissue injury claim against
- Gathering evidence to support your claim, such as:
- Medical records from the GP, hospital or minor injuries unit that treated you, such as x-rays and other diagnostic tests;
- A medical assessment stating the extent of your injuries, prognosis and long-term consequences;
- Photographs of the accident scene that capture the aftermath of the accident before anything is repaired, replaced or removed;
- Pictures of any visible injuries, damage to your items, and a photographic record of your recovery process;
- Your copy of an accident report form if you suffered an accident at work or in a public place;
- Footage from CCTV cameras or a dash cam that might have captured your accident to establish how the events unfolded;
- Contact details of anybody else who saw your accident and could later provide a witness statement;
- Your detailed record of events or a diary to explain how you suffered a soft tissue injury and how this affected your work and personal life;
- Financial records of any costs you have incurred due to the accident. This could include transport costs, medication or loss of earnings.
- Your solicitor will calculate a fair soft tissue injury compensation amount based on all the medical and financial evidence regarding your injury.
- Once your claim is ready and you have worked out your damages, your solicitor will contact the other side and negotiate a settlement on your behalf.
- If the other side denies liability for your soft tissue injury or you cannot agree on a compensation award, you may have to issue court proceedings. More than 95% of all claims settle out of court, but if you must argue your claim before a judge, your solicitor will ensure you are fully prepared.
- Once you reach a settlement or the judge has made a decision, you should receive your compensation payment within four weeks. This will usually be paid directly to you or transferred to a trust in your name.
How much compensation can I claim for a soft tissue injury?
There is no fixed compensation award you could receive if your soft tissue injury claim is successful. Each settlement is worked out on a case-by-case basis by taking into account the circumstances of your accident, the severity of your injuries and how they affected your daily life.
The compensation for a soft tissue injury covers two types of damages, known as general and special damages.
General damages are based on your injuries and take into account the following:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Emotional and psychological trauma, such as stress, depression and anxiety
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of amenities such as the ability to pursue a hobby or attend social events
- Reduced life quality and enjoyment of life
Special damages are based on the financial impact of your injuries and include the following:
- Lost wages and loss of future earning capacity
- Travel expenses related to your accident
- Medical expenses for consultations, diagnostic tests and treatments
- Costs of counselling and physical therapy
- Care costs if you needed help and support during recovery
- Modifications to your home or vehicle to help you cope with long-term injuries
Your solicitor will refer to the guidelines published by the Judicial College to work out how much soft tissue injury compensation you might be due. The compensation amounts they advise are for general damages and do not take into account your financial losses. These will be calculated separately and added to your compensation for pain and suffering to give your final settlement.
According to the Judicial College guideline, you could receive:
- Up to £3,950 for a minor soft tissue injury to the chest with recovery within a couple of months
- £240 to £4,345 for whiplash, depending on the estimated recovery time
- £4,350 to £7,890 for moderate soft tissue damage in the neck with full recovery within two years
- £24,990 to £38,490 for a more serious neck injury that may cause limited motion and chronic pain
- £45,470 to £55,590 for a severe neck injury, causing long-term disability
- Up to £12,510 for moderate sprains, strains and other soft tissue injuries to the back
- £38,780 to £69,730 for soft tissue damage caused by a severe back injury
- Up to £4,750 for minor soft tissue damage to the hand with recovery within six months
- £10,320 to £16,340 for severe tendon damage to the fingers causing permanent loss of grip
- Up to £13,740 for severe injuries to the ligaments in feet
- £12,590 to £21,070 for partial rupture of the Achilles tendon
- Around £38,340 for a severe Achilles tendon injury with permanently restricted ankle movement
- £26,190 to £96,210 for significant soft tissue damage to the knee causing permanent disability
- Up to £3,950 for soft tissue injuries to the hips or pelvis that will heal completely
After discussing your case, your solicitor will be able to give you a better estimate of your compensation prospects.
How long do I have to claim compensation for soft tissue damage?
Under the Limitation Act 1980, the time limit to start a soft tissue injury claim is three years after becoming aware of your injury. Usually, this will be the date of the accident that caused you to suffer soft tissue damage.
However, if your injuries developed over time, the three-year countdown begins once you receive an official medical diagnosis, known as the date of knowledge. If the time limit to take legal action expires, your case becomes statute-barred and will no longer be accepted by the court.
There are several exceptions to the three-year time limit to claim personal injury compensation. For example:
- If the injured person is a child, a parent or another litigation friend could claim on their behalf at any time, regardless of when the accident occurred. Once the claimant turns 18, they will have until their 21st birthday to start legal proceedings if nobody has already claimed on their behalf.
- There is no time limit to claim on behalf of a loved one if they lack the mental capacity to conduct legal proceedings. A victim may be unable to handle their case due to:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- A severe mental health issue such as schizophrenia
- An intellectual disability like Down’s syndrome
- A neurodegenerative condition such as dementia
- A traumatic brain injury or other major trauma
- If the person injured regains their mental abilities, they will have another three years from that date to start a claim.
- If you suffered a soft tissue injury due to a violent crime, you have two years to claim through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). Unlike other soft tissue injury claims, you must report the incident to the police to qualify for a CICA claim.
- There is a seven-year time limit to claim compensation for soft tissue damage through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) if you were injured while serving in the military.
- If your injuries were due to a defective product, you could start a claim within ten years after the product was launched.
- The time limit to claim soft tissue injury compensation if you had an accident abroad can differ significantly between countries and may be much shorter than three years.
Regardless of how long you may feel you have to start your soft tissue injury claim, it is always better to seek legal advice as early as possible. This will make gathering evidence much easier and give your solicitor plenty of time to build a strong case.
For a free consultation with a legal adviser, call 0800 678 1410 or request a call back using our online claim form. They can let you know if you may be eligible to claim and will be happy to answer any questions you may have.