Lead Article – July 2021

Lead Article – July 2021

“Over a Period of Time” Injuries

It is timely that we revisit this particular topic. Claims are becoming more frequent, the cases are more complex and the outcomes are even less certain.

Causation is so much easier to identify when a single specific accident results in a constellation of injuries. For example, a worker falling from the eleventh storey of a construction site is reasonably likely to sustain multiple injuries involving both the appendicular and central skeletons. Soft tissue wounds are likely to occasion that smorgasbord of fractures.

Conversely, a worker who performs relatively menial, sedentary tasks over a period of a decade yet complains of neck pain, lumbar pain, wrist pain, shoulder pain and elbow discomfort as a result of those work practices is far more difficult to assess.

I suppose it is possible that some of those practices may give rise to discomfort but it becomes far less likely that true orthopaedic pathology will be witnessed.

Frequently, a thorough orthopaedic examination identifies some underlying constitutional, non-work related explanation for the symptomatic pattern. Whilst plaintiffs and their lawyers may cling to the concept that the entire malady has been caused by the decade at work, reality is unlikely to support them.

Whilst I expect “over a period of time” injuries to continue to present, requesting solicitors should be aware of the attendant difficulties and select their cases carefully. “No win, no fee” lawyers should be especially on guard.