Morton Fraser Claims Calculator - The Value of an Arm Injury

Morton Fraser Senior Associate Nicola Edgar
Nicola Edgar
08 July 2020

The compensation a court will award a claimant who has been injured as a result of negligence will depend upon the impact that injury has had on their life and the impact it will continue to have in the future.  For this reason, the awards for different injuries are wide ranging.    

Depending upon its severity, an arm injury could potentially impact every aspect of daily life.  Without a fully functioning arm basic tasks such as dressing, driving, preparing meals and using a computer can become challenging.  If the impact of the injury is severe and prevents a claimant from continuing to work the claim may be worth a significant sum. 

The Judicial Studies Board provide Guidelines that set out recommended levels of compensation for solatium (i.e. pain and suffering) depending upon the extent of the injury.  These Guidelines are relied upon by lawyers to assess the value of this Head of Claim.  The recommended valuation of an arm injury ranges from up to £16,380 for a fracture to the forearm, up to £51,070 for serious fractures to both forearms where there is a significant permanent disability, and up to £111,690 for an above-elbow amputation.  The highest recommended award is £255,950 which would be appropriate for loss of both arms.  The levels of award for a variety of arm injuries can be viewed on our Compensation Calculator.

Morton Fraser were previously successful in recovering £700,000 on behalf of a claimant in a medical negligence action who sustained an injury to her arm due to negligent medical treatment.  Our client was attending a routine MRI scan when the radiographer inserted a cannula into her artery, as opposed to her vein, to allow a contrast agent to be inserted.  This error was not noticed, despite there being a spurt of blood from our client's arm.  Due to the arterial puncture not being rectified on time, our client suffered considerable pain, required numerous surgical procedures, and ultimately lost the use of her arm.  Following an evidential hearing, the Court awarded our client damages of £700,000.

This was a significant award and represented a number of Heads of Claim, including:- (1) Solatium, a sum to compensate for the pain and suffering experienced; (2) Services, to account for the assistance provided to our client by family, and assistance our client was unable to provide her family; (3) Loss of earnings; and (4) Miscellaneous expenses, including the costs of various aids to assist her with the challenges of everyday life which she experienced as a result of the injury. 

Often the most valuable element of a claim will be the loss of future income.  This can be seen from the recent Court of Session case of Darren Conquer v Lothian Health Board.  In January 2020, the Claimant was awarded £540,000 following the negligent diagnosis and treatment of his arm following an injury he suffered playing football.  Medical staff failed to perform an ultrasound scan on his arm when he attended hospital.  The Court held that had the scan been performed, on the balance of probabilities, the right distal biceps tendon rupture would have been diagnosed and a surgical repair undertaken within a few days.  Lady Carmichael determined that the Claimant would then have returned to work as a plumber within 6 months.  In reality, his career did not progress as planned due to the prolonged pain and discomfort he was experiencing and the fact that he had not regained full function to his arm.  The claimant was awarded £60,000 for solatium.  However, the most valuable element of his claim was for future wage loss, which was calculated at around £450,000.

In assessing the value of any claim, it is vital to understand the full impact of the injury.  There will be many elements to be considered including missed career opportunities and the potential impact on earnings if the claimant's condition is expected to deteriorate in the future.  The Team at Morton Fraser take the time to get to know our clients so that all these elements can be considered and valued to ensure compensation is maximised.


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