A Guide To Orthopaedic Negligence Injury Claims

By Danielle Graves. Last Updated 13th July 2023. If you have suffered an injury to your bones, tendons or muscles, or any other orthopaedic injury, you could seek help and treatment from NHS or private doctors. However, if the treatment or advice they give you is negligent, you may suffer harm that you would not have experienced if you had received the correct treatment and advice.

Orthopaedic injury claim

Orthopaedic injury claim

The consequences of orthopaedic negligence could range in severity, and if you have suffered any kind of physical harm because of such negligence, you could be eligible for compensation. If you would like to talk to our advisors about a case of orthopaedic negligence that has caused you harm, or you would like to begin a personal injury claim against the medical professional that has failed you, then do not hesitate to call Legal Helpline on 0161 696 9685. To learn more, read on.

Jump To A Section

  1. Can I Start An Orthopaedic Negligence Injury Claim?
  2. What Are Orthopaedic Injuries?
  3. What Is Orthopaedic Negligence?
  4. What Is Orthopaedic Surgery Negligence?
  5. Orthopaedic Negligence In Hip Replacement Surgery
  6. Missed Bone Fractures
  7. Orthopaedic Negligence In A&E Treatment
  8. Costs, Expenses And Financial Losses You May Claim For
  9. Compensation Calculator For Orthopaedic Injury Claims
  10. No Win No Fee Claims For Orthopaedic Injuries
  11. Medical And Claims Resources

Can I Start An Orthopaedic Negligence Injury Claim?

In order to claim orthopaedic injury compensation, you must be able to meet the medical negligence claiming requirements. You must have evidence that proves:

  • A healthcare professional owed you a duty of care.
  • They breached this duty.
  • You suffered avoidable harm as a result of this breach.

Medical professionals must provide their patients with the correct standard of care. This is their duty of care. If you suffer harm that could have been avoidable because they failed to comply with this duty of care, you could be eligible to make a medical negligence claim.

However, there may be certain instances where you suffered harm, but a medical professional did not breach their duty of care. In this case, you might not be able to make a claim for compensation.

In addition to meeting the eligibility criteria, you must start your medical negligence claim within the time limit. Typically, you will have three years to initiate proceedings from the date you were harmed. Or the date of knowledge. This is the date you first reasonably connected the harm you suffered with medical negligence.

There are some exceptions to the limitation period when claiming for an orthopaedic injury. Please contact an advisor from our team to find out more.

What Are Orthopaedic Injuries?

Any injury that affects the bones, nerves, muscles, tendons and ligaments within your body could be classed as an orthopaedic injury. These injuries could occur in a number of different ways, but would usually affect how our body moves. The causes of orthopaedic injuries can be varied, but blunt force trauma could be considered one of the most common causes. Other causes include:

  • Slipping, tripping or falling
  • Car accidents
  • Workplace accidents
  • Assaults
  • Sporting activities

The severity of orthopaedic injuries can range from minor sprains and strains to more serious injuries which could include broken bones. Depending on the seriousness of the injury, treatment options could range from immobilisation, rest, painkillers, or even orthopaedic surgery. In some cases, damage from an orthopaedic injury could be irreparable.

What Is Orthopaedic Negligence?

Orthopaedic negligence occurs when the treatment or advice you have been given is not up to the standards expected of a medical professional. This type of negligence could take many forms, and could include:

  • Failure to diagnose a broken bone
  • Failure to properly align a broken bone
  • Failure to refer a patient to a medical specialist when it would have been considered appropriate to do so
  • Unnecessary surgery (when a plaster cast would have sufficed)
  • Negligent orthopaedic surgery (for example, mistakes in surgery that could lead to a poorer prognosis, or could cause damage that requires further corrective treatment)

If you have suffered harm because of orthopaedic negligence, you could be eligible to claim compensation. Medical professionals have a duty of care towards their patients. If they fail to meet the minimum standards of care expected of them, then they could be held liable for the harm they have caused because of their negligence.

What Is Orthopaedic Surgery Negligence?

Surgery could be required to repair damage from an orthopaedic injury you have suffered. Whether you require an arthroscopy (keyhole) surgery or are required to have open surgery, you could expect the procedure to fix the damage and help you heal. However, if you experience orthopaedic surgery negligence, this could lead you to suffer more damage. Orthopaedic surgery negligence could include:

  • Failure to properly align broken bones – If bones are not aligned correctly in arm surgery, for example, they may knit together incorrectly, and this could lead to loss of function in the area.
  • Failure to affix plates or pins correctly – If, for example, the wrong pin is used in leg surgery, this could cause the plate to move out of place, which could lead to complications.
  • Failure to take proper care of the surgical site – If you underwent ankle surgery, for example, and proper infection control measures were not adhered to, you could develop an infection at the site of the surgery, which could lead to complications.
  • Failure to control instruments – If a patient underwent shoulder surgery for example, and negligence by the surgeon in controlling instruments led to nerve injury, the movement of the shoulder could be compromised.

These are just a few examples of how orthopaedic negligence in surgery could cause harm. If you have suffered harm in any way because of negligence, then you could consider making an orthopaedic injury claim.

Orthopaedic Negligence In Hip Replacement Surgery

We have dedicated a section to hip replacement surgery as it could be considered one of the more common orthopaedic surgeries. If a hip replacement or hip resurfacing treatment is not done properly, it could have a profound effect on your ability to walk and move around properly.

Some common complications that could arise from negligent hip replacement surgery could include:

  • Swelling
  • Difficulty in walking
  • Numbness
  • Bone damage
  • Soft tissue damage
  • Pseudo-tumours
  • Foot drop

Faulty or failed metal-on-metal hip replacements could also be claimed for if the hip replacement product your surgeon used was thought to be faulty, and this caused you to require a further hip replacement earlier than you would usually have required one.

Missed Bone Fractures

We mentioned earlier that a proper diagnosis of orthopaedic injuries could be vital in ensuring they heal correctly. When you present at a medical facility with a suspected broken bone, your symptoms should be assessed and examined, and you may require further tests, such as X-rays, to determine whether a bone is, in fact, broken. If something goes wrong in this diagnostic process, it could cause you to miss the window of opportunity to treat the broken bone optimally. Causes of a missed fracture could include situations where:

  • An X-ray was not ordered
  • An X-ray was not reviewed properly
  • An X-ray was not taken from the correct angle

Consequences of missed fractures could have a severe effect on your recovery. If doctors miss a fracture to the hand, for example, and hand surgery is not performed within the optimal window of opportunity, this could lead to loss of function or grip. If you have suffered harm because a fracture has been missed, then you could look into making an orthopaedic injury claim.

Orthopaedic Negligence In A&E Treatment

While in many cases, the standard of care in UK accident and emergency departments could be considered good, mistakes could happen that could lead to patients suffering harm. Making quick decisions on whether to refer, admit or treat patients is something that A&E doctors do every day. They are sometimes under pressure to meet timescales in triaging and treating patients, and these pressures could affect the standard of care you receive. If the standard of care at A&E falls below what is expected, and you suffer harm because of this, you could consider claiming compensation.

Orthopaedic negligence at A&E could occur because doctors are inexperienced or stressed, leading to them making the wrong decision, or it could simply happen because the department is busy. If sufficient attention is not paid to a patient examination, the correct tests (such as X-rays) might not be ordered. 

Similarly, if the person performing the tests does not do so correctly, then those test results may not provide an accurate picture of the patient’s condition. And, if the person reviewing the test results does not review them correctly, then this provides another opportunity for the wrong advice or treatment to be given to the patient.

Costs, Expenses And Financial Losses You May Claim For

If you make a claim for an orthopaedic injury and succeed, it’s likely your compensation package will be made up of two heads of claim: general damages (which we’ll come to below), and special damages. 

The role of special damages in compensation is to reimburse you for any financial losses or out of pocket expenses incurred because of your injury. These could include:

  • Loss of earnings – both present and future loss of earnings could be included as part of your claim
  • Care claim – if you have needed to be cared for at home because you weren’t able to care for yourself, these costs could also form part of your claim
  • Medical/Travel costs – travel and medical costs that arise because of your injury could also be claimed for

To help succeed in recovering back expenses and costs it’s vitally important you keep hold of all receipts and invoices, even bus tickets! Without evidence, it’s difficult to recover compensation. 

If you have incurred any other costs that arose specifically because of the orthopaedic negligence you’ve experienced and the harm that it has caused you, then please call us to see if they could be included within your orthopaedic injury claim.

Compensation Calculator For Orthopaedic Injury Claims

The other head of claim is general damages. This is intended to compensate you for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity experienced as a result of your injuries. 

If you would like to know how much compensation your claim for orthopaedic negligence could attract, you may be looking for a personal injury claims calculator to give you a rough idea. We have not included a calculator on this page. Instead,  we have chosen to provide information taken from the Judicial College Guidelines—a legal publication which details compensation awards made by the courts for different injuries— which could give you a more relevant idea of the payout bracket your claim could fall into. It’s important to remember that each case is different and the value is determined by its unique set of facts. This will, however, give you an idea. 

InjuryNotesGuideline Payout
Severe foot injuriesCases requiring extensive surgery could be included here. Severe restriction to movement and inability to wear normal shoes could result in cases being put in this bracket. Drop foot deformities requiring braces could also be included.£41,970 to £70,030
Arm injuries that result in permanent disablement that is substantialFractures where there is substantial cosmetic or functional disablement.£39,170 to £59,860
Less severe arm injuriesWhere substantial recovery has occurred or will take place£19,200 to £39,170
Moderate leg injuriesMultiple or complex fractures leading to the risk of some degenerative changes, as well. Imperfectly joined fractures could be included here.£27,760 to £39,200
Wrist injuriesWith significant levels of permanent disablement but with some useful movement remaining.£24,500 to £39,170
Serious shoulder injuryDamage to lower portion of the brachial plexus and dislocation of the claimant’s shoulder. Sensory type symptoms could be present in the hand and forearm. Shoulder movement could be restricted. Symptoms could remain after shoulder surgery.£12,770 to £19,200
Moderate shoulder injuryWhere the shoulder is frozen and there is some movement restriction and discomfort. Symptoms could persist for around 2 years.£7,890 to £12,770
Minor injuries to hands, fingers or thumbsRecovery would generally have occurred within 6 months.Up to £4,750

No Win No Fee Claims For Orthopaedic Injuries

There are certain benefits to using a personal injury lawyer to help you with your claim. Not only could they take on the legwork of building a claim, but they could also help assess any settlement offers to see whether you could fight for more compensation than you have been offered.

It may be possible for you to retain the services of a personal injury solicitor for your orthopaedic injury on a No Win No Fee basis. A solicitor would ask you to sign a Conditional Fee Agreement, which means there would be no fees to pay at the outset of the case, nor while your claim is in progress, and if your claim is unsuccessful your solicitor will write off their fees, meaning you pay nothing.

If you win your case, your solicitor might ask for a small percentage of the compensation to help cover their fees. This is referred to as a success fee. It would be taken from your compensation at the end of the claim.  This success fee is capped by law, so you would not have to worry that all your compensation would go towards legal fees.

Whether you’re in a position to begin an orthopaedic negligence claim, or you still have questions about the claims process or want to check if you could be eligible for compensation, you can call us on 0161 696 9685 or leave your details via our contact form and we’ll get in touch with you. Either way, we look forward to helping you.

Medical And Claims Resources

Guy’s & St Thomas’ Hospital Orthopaedics Information – Details of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital NHS Trust’s Orthopaedic services can be found here.

Orthopaedic Surgery Roles – This gives more details of how a doctor could qualify for a job in orthopaedics.

Referral Guide For Orthopaedics – This offers information on referrals for South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Hospital Negligence Resulting In Death – If hospital negligence has resulted in a loved one losing their life, then this guide could provide some useful information.

Making A Personal Injury Claim – This guide offers general advice on personal injury claims.

Broken Bone Case Study – This page explains more about how a compensation payout could be calculated for a broken foot.