Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in the UK. Historically there are very strong connections between those developing osteoarthritis and repetitive actions in the workplace. You will often find that osteoarthritis only emerges in later life, although that does not mean you can’t look to claim compensation from your employer.
There are so many different ways in which osteoarthritis can develop in the workplace. We have seen some huge developments in medical research, which now allows doctors to pinpoint with a degree of confidence where conditions such as osteoarthritis may have started to develop.
As a consequence, years later, there are numerous osteoarthritis compensation claims going through the courts – based upon employer negligence.
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What Is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is one of the more common industrial diseases recognised by the courts and the medical profession today. In simple terms, it involves the disintegration of cartilage around joints which then exposes bone on bone, causing significant pain.
Unfortunately, osteoarthritis is not curable although it is a condition which can be managed to a certain extent.
What Are the Symptoms of Osteoarthritis?
The severity of osteoarthritis can vary enormously, as can the symptoms. However, some of the more common symptoms associated with this medical condition include:-
- Loss of flexibility
- Swelling around the joints
- Tenderness when applying pressure to a joint
- Bone spurs
- The grating of bone on bone
It is fair to say that some of these symptoms are difficult to read, let alone extremely painful. The idea of bone grating on bone is horrendous, and we can only imagine the difficulties this can cause, especially in later life.
Which Joints Are Most Affected by Osteoarthritis?
Industrial disease claims for osteoarthritis tend to revolve around damage to the:-
In reality, osteoarthritis can impact any joint on your body although when it comes to work-based osteoarthritis, these are the more common areas of concern.
Which Movements Are More Prone to Cause Osteoarthritis?
We know from medical research that there are various movements which are more prone to cause osteoarthritis if repeated time and time again.
- Continuous impact on a joint
- Forceful actions/movements by joints
- Straining joints to their extreme
It is not difficult to translate the above joint movements into the workplace with the following activities coming to mind:-
- Use of vibrating tools such as pneumatic drills
- Carpet laying where the individual is constantly on their knees
- Working in confined areas and having to undertake unnatural postures
- Manual work such as lifting and carrying equipment
- Repetitive tasks such as working on a supermarket checkout
There are ways and means of mitigating the potential damage caused by impact, forceful movement and straining joints. It is worth noting that your employer has a legal obligation to protect your physical and mental health.
Is There a Cure for Osteoarthritis?
Unfortunately, this painful and debilitating medical condition has no cure. Instead, the best course of action is to attempt to manage the condition in the longer term.
This will probably include:-
- Gentle/regular exercise
- The use of suitable footwear
- Using specialist support devices for troubled joints
- Losing weight if you are obese
In some cases, where the above actions have failed to suitably manage the condition, surgery would be the last resort. It would simply be a means of trying to repair, strengthen and support troubled joints, although it is important to reiterate there is no cure.
How Can My Employer Be Liable for Industrial Osteoarthritis?
As you will see above, we have listed a number of joint movements which are prone to osteoarthritis if repeated time and time again. We have also noted some specific roles in the employment market where repetitive actions can cause serious joint problems.
This is not confidential information; this is information available to the public and more importantly, employers.
So, if your employer fails to appreciate the potential dangers in the workplace and you were to develop osteoarthritis, then they may be liable for compensation.
How Long Do I Have to Claim Compensation?
Traditionally there is a three-year window of opportunity in which you must lodge your claim for compensation. Normally with workplace accidents, the clock would begin on the day of your accident and resulting injury – assuming you were diagnosed on the same day.
However, when it comes to issues such as osteoarthritis, which can emerge days, weeks, months or years down the line, it is not so straightforward.
If you are considering a compensation claim the three-year window of opportunity would begin when you were officially diagnosed. This may be some time after you began to develop the condition, or it could even be when you have retired.
So, just because your condition may have begun to develop ten years ago means nothing until you have been diagnosed.
What Level of Compensation Could I Expect for My Osteoarthritis Claim?
The level of compensation available will depend upon the severity of your osteoarthritis and the area impacted. For example:-
- A moderate back injury which develops into osteoarthritis could attract compensation from £10,960-£19,920
- A serious case of osteoarthritis in a knee joint could lead to compensation in the region of £41,550-£55,590
- Where a fracture of the hand develops into osteoarthritis, you could be looking at compensation between £7270 and £9760
The actual level of compensation will depend upon the severity of the osteoarthritis symptoms and the degree of pain and suffering you experience.
Do I Need a Claims Management Company?
When looking to claim compensation for industrial osteoarthritis, it is sensible to approach a claims management company. They will review your evidence; arrange a third-party medical examination if required, and take on your case if they believe you have a minimum 60% chance of success. You will likely be offered a “no win no fee” arrangement which often works well for both parties.
While the symptoms of osteoarthritis are fairly simple to recognise and diagnose, the main difficulty will be associating the medical condition with activities in the workplace. However, when considering whether to go for compensation, it is worth noting that your employer has a legal obligation to protect your health and well-being.
This involves the provision of safety equipment which in this particular instance can mitigate the potential dangers of developing osteoarthritis.
Even though many people still see osteoarthritis as a sign of “old age”, this is not necessarily the case. It may be that your repetitive actions in the workplace placed undue stress on your joints, causing the cartridge to disintegrate, leaving painful bone on bone.
Quick Industrial illness & Disease FAQs
On average, your claims management company will look to negotiate a success fee of around 25%, although this can vary depending on the level of compensation received and duration of the case. This is something which needs to be agreed before the claims management company can pursue your claim.
Special damages are best described as recompense for costs incurred, future medical expenses and other elements such as loss of earnings. If you are unable to return to work as a consequence of an industrial disease/illness, and your employer is found negligent, then they may need to recompense you for loss of earnings.
If you were paying legal fees and costs yourself, this could run into tens of thousands of pounds depending on the type of claim and the duration. Thankfully, many claims management companies will offer a “no win no fee” arrangement if, after reviewing your evidence, they believe you have a minimum 60% chance of success.
This effectively removes your liability to cover their costs when pursuing your case. In exchange, the claims management company will negotiate what is known as a “success fee”.
The pursuit of compensation for industrial diseases such as hearing loss should be done within a three-year window of opportunity. This window of opportunity begins on the first official diagnosis of your condition – not necessarily the event(s) which brought about the condition.
With issues such as hearing loss, which can worsen over a prolonged period of time, this is very important. We have seen cases where individuals have been diagnosed months and even years down the line, yet still been able to seek compensation.
How Can Money Savings Advice Help You With Making an Industrial illness Compensation Claim?
Here at Money Savings Advice, we have partnered with some of the UK’s leading Industrial illness Claims management companies. They have already helped thousands of people claim compensation for injuries & illnesses they have incurred, and they can do the same for you.
Choosing an independent claims management company means they won’t proceed with a claim unless they are sure it is in your best interests. They are also regulated by the FCA, which gives you an additional layer of protection.
If you would like to speak to one of these claim management companies who can help you make a compensation claim, then click on the below and answer the very simple questions.