Personal injury experts, National Accident Helpline, are calling upon the government to recognise the shocking disparity in back injury compensation as the UK recognises Back Care Awareness Week (4-8 October).

Analysis has revealed that there is a discrepancy between how much compensation someone could be awarded if they suffer an injury to their back, through no fault of their own, on a road, at work or in a public setting. For the same injury, compensation favours those who receive their injury at work where the employer is at fault. Accidents in the workplace could result in eight times higher compensation when compared to a road traffic accident, despite the severity of the injury being the same.

Recent road traffic whiplash reforms are the cause of the disparity, as changes to personal injury claims came into force in May 2021. These reforms mean that drivers and passengers who suffer from whiplash injuries for up to two years are awarded compensation under a new tariff scheme.

The definition of whiplash injury is very broad and isn’t limited to neck and shoulder injuries, as such back injuries also fall within the new tariff scheme. The tariff scheme itself has been described as derisory by many commentators, including the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, who believe that the scheme is inadequate. The not-for-profit group stated: “The imposition of the tariff fails to reflect the fact that a similar injury can produce very different effects.”

The disparity between someone suffering a back injury in a car accident compared to a back injury caused by an accident at work is significant; an individual sustaining a three-month soft tissue injury to their back can expect to recover over eight times more in compensation if the injury is sustained at work than the exact same injury being suffered in a car accident.

To give some context to the inadequacies of the road traffic tariffs, someone sustaining a three month back injury in road accident would recover half the amount of compensation they would receive if their flight was delayed at the airport.

Highlighting the effect of whiplash reforms, before the Covid-19 pandemic, around 650,000 motor claims were made a year, with around 85% of these whiplash-related. The changes to the claims process means there will be a large proportion of the general public who are out of pocket through no fault of their own, receiving less compensation for the same injury.

Jonathan White, Legal and Compliance Director at National Accident Helpline, said: “We’re calling out to the government today to look into the shocking disparity in compensation claims for back injuries that people have sustained through no fault of their own. To have up to eight times more compensation for the same back injury, but due to a different cause, is not ethically right. Ultimately, the person who receives the injury is going to be affected in the same way and so should be compensated in the same way.

“We’re keen to help raise awareness of the differences in compensation for the same injury to ensure people are no longer left out of pocket, or financially impacted, through an accident that wasn’t their fault.”

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