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The wrist is one of the most delicate areas of the body, and is prone to all sorts of injuries. We use our wrists a lot, and if you injure your wrist it will naturally impact on your ability to use your hand. The consequences of a wrist injury may include not being able to work, drive, or care for yourself or your family.

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A study performed by WorkCover found that in a two year period there were 16,712 wrist and hand work-related injuries which required hospital admission. Wrist and hand injuries accounted for 32% of all work-related hospital admissions during the two-year period of the study.

If you have suffered a wrist injury as a result of someone else’s negligence, whether you were in a car accident that was not your fault (or as a passenger), if you have slipped or fallen in a public place, if you have injured your wrist at work, or suffered an injury in another way, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries.

Our law firm specialises in personal injury law claims, including making a wrist injury compensation claim. Speak to our no win no fee lawyers today for a complimentary consultation to find out if you can claim for your injury and any loss you have suffered as a result.

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Common wrist injuries

There are many ways in which a person might suffer a wrist injury, but some of the most common wrist injuries include:

  • Wrist tendon injury (such as wrist tendonitis): this can be a painful condition whereby the tendons in your wrist become inflamed due to a tear in one or more of the tendons of your wrist.
  • Radial nerve injury: can be caused by a physical injury, an infection or even from exposure to toxins. This type of injury to the wrist can cause numbness and tingling and pain, though it can also be painless but cause issues with weakness and movement.
  • Wrist hyperextension injury: an injury commonly caused by falling onto an outstretched hand or from overuse at work, and generally resulting in tenderness and pain, with some rehabilitation required to recover.
  • Wrist cartilage injury: the cartilage in your wrist is the substance that allows your bones to glide past each other without abrasion. It is possible to damage your cartilage through overuse or a fall onto your hand or arm. This condition can be painful and cause weakness or arthritis over time.
  • Soft tissue wrist injuries: an injury to your wrist which damages the soft tissue can also be referred to as a sprain, and is often caused by a fall or overuse. A soft tissue injury is a painful condition which can cause difficulty with use or movement. 
  • Broken wrist (fracture/broken wrists): a broken wrist is where one or more of the bones in the wrist are fractured or broken due to trauma (such as a heavy object hitting your wrist) or through a fall or impact (from slipping or tripping). Breaks can take some time to heal and can cause complications with medical treatment required to rehabilitate after the bones have healed. There are specific names for certain types of fractures, such as:
    • Colles’ fracture - the complete fracture of the radius bone (closest to the wrist) which is a very serious break and can cause the hand to flop backwards
    • Smith’s fracture - a complete fracture of the radius, but in the opposite direction to the Colles’ fracture, usually caused by a fall onto the back of the hand
    • Barton’s fracture - a complex break where the radius fracture and the radiocarpal joint dislocates

No matter what type of wrist injury you have suffered there will generally be a considerable period of time where you need to rest and focus on allowing your body time to heal (with the appropriate medical or physiotherapy treatment) for a full recovery

Common causes of wrist injuries

There are many ways in which you can injure your wrist; you might be cycling for exercise one morning and a car swerves in front of you, causing you to brake suddenly and put all your weight onto your hands, pushing your wrists into an unnatural position and causing a tendon injury. Or you might be at work and slip on some liquid spilled on the ground causing you to fall onto your hands, causing a fracture or sprain. Some of the more common wrist injuries can be caused by:

  • Sudden impacts from slips and falls (for example, at work or playing sport)
  • Hyperextension due to poor technique when performing a task, or lifting something that is too heavy without the appropriate tools to assist you
  • Repetitive strain injury, for example, working on a factory line doing the same task over and over

Example: Glen works at a meatworks as a packer. On one shift he is required to lift portions of butchered meat from one surface to another. For the entire shift, he is required to lift items that are heavier than the safe weight for manual handling due to a calibration error in one of the machines. 

Glen finishes work that day and notices that his right wrist joint is very sore and the area is swollen. The next day he is in a lot of pain. Glen has to take a few weeks off work and get medical treatment and physiotherapy for his injury, but eventually is diagnosed as having suffered a permanent injury to his wrist. 

Glen would be able to make a claim through workers compensation for his time off work, and may also be able to make a claim for an amount of compensation for his employer’s failure to provide a safe work environment.

Occupations most at risk of wrist injuries at work

While anyone can suffer a wrist injury there are certain professions where the risk of a wrist injury is more common than for others. In 2014-2015 there were 4,945 claims for wrist injuries recorded by SafeWork Australia. Work-related hand and wrist injuries were recorded in a 2008 Australian Government report as being the most common work-related injury, and a common cause of hospital visits for workers. The most common industries where wrist injuries occurred included:

  • Manufacturing
  • Construction
  • Retail
  • Mining
  • Agriculture, forestry and fishing

Most hand and wrist injuries took place on construction sites, garages, factories, and other areas for work in the above industries.

What to do after a wrist injury at work?

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When you have been injured at work it is important to take care of yourself but at the same time, ensure that you do all the right things with WorkCover so that you are financially secure for the time you have to take off to recover:

  1. When you have injured your wrist the first thing you need to do is get first aid or medical treatment if appropriate.
  2. You will need to get a work capacity certificate from your doctor - either the doctor who treated you for your wrist injury or your usual doctor.
  3. Let your employer know that you have been injured (as soon as possible - generally at the time or within a day or two) and give them your work capacity certificate.
  4. Make a claim with WorkCover (who will also need a copy of your work capacity certificate)
  5. Get started on your rehabilitation so that you can move towards a great recovery from your injury.
  6. Get legal advice on your WorkCover claim to ensure you achieve the best possible outcome, and so that you have support during this time.

How much compensation for a wrist injury?

A wrist injury is going to have a different impact on different people depending on what type of work you do and how your wrist injury affects your life.

For example, a skilled professional who relies upon their wrist health and strength for precision tasks in their work - such as a professional violin player, a skilled tradesperson, or a surgeon, for example - will be heavily impacted by a wrist injury which requires them to abandon their profession due to their injury.

Someone who is a professional but who perhaps is impacted in a non-dominant wrist, and who can make a good recovery will be impacted less, especially if they can return to the same profession.

The amount of compensation for a wrist injury that you can claim will vary depending on the impact on your life, your ability to earn, and any long term medical treatment which you need to undergo. Our lawyers can provide legal advice around the financial compensation you may be eligible to receive in an initial complimentary consultation.

How long to make a wrist injury compensation claim?

Personal injury time limits

When making a claim for a wrist injury, whether you have injured your wrist in a road traffic accident, slipped at work, or been injured in a public place accident, there are certain time limits which you must keep in mind as they are critical to your successful claim.

Injured at work? You have to report your injury to your employer as soon as possible - and you have six months in which to commence your claim for WorkCover.

Making a common law claim for compensation? You have three years from the date of your injury in which to commence your claim - but we recommend getting started as soon as possible.

Injured in a car accident? You generally have three years from the date of the accident in which to make a claim, but you also need to notify the at-fault driver’s insurer that you intend to claim for compensation within nine months of the accident, or within one month of engaging a law firm to act on your behalf.

A key benefit to engaging a Brisbane based personal injury lawyer to help with your claim for compensation for a wrist injury is that we help you to navigate what can be a complex process, and ensure you receive appropriate compensation for your injury.

Posted by Kirk Watterston Principal (Non-Director)

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Disclaimer: Please note, this content is designed as general information only and does not constitute legal advice. While we make every effort to fact check and keep items up to date, legislation may change from time to time. For advice on your specific situation then please contact us.
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