What do you get for one year’s back symptoms?

The claimant, 61 years old, was employed as a driver labourer. He was lifting and twisting to the left side when he felt a sudden sharp stabbing pain in the right lower back. He could not continue work, but remained until the end of the shift carrying on light duties. Discomfort became worse and he was off work for four or five weeks. His GP referred him for physiotherapy. He had three sessions giving some temporary improvement. He went back to his doctor seven months after the accident and has since been off work intermittently continuing to visit his doctor. The diagnosis was acute wrenching and straining to the lower back.

He had pre-accident back trouble severe enough to have him referred to an orthopaedic surgeon 18 months earlier. The accident was in September 2002. The medical report said that it is probable that the effects of the accident, bearing in mind the circumstances and the nature of the injury, will have continued until about 12 months from the date of the accident and that in the absence of the accident he would have been able to continue his pre-accident work until about September 2003. General damages were awarded at £3,500.

Holmes -v- Central Engineering (Radcliffe) Limited. Manchester County Court 30 June 2005.

Periodical payments: advantages and disadvantages

See a useful piece in the Health and Safety Law Volume 5.


  1. The payments to cover the claimant’s future needs for life will continue for the whole of his life so that he will never run out of funding despite any issue raised at trial as to life expectancy.
  2. The periodical payments are tax free and will not affect the client’s entitlement to means tested benefits.
  3. Should the claimant go bankrupt in the future, the payments will continue and will not be affected by the bankruptcy, nor will the claimant’s debtors be able to enforce against periodical payments.
  4. The periodical payments will increase each year in line with the retail price index.
  5. The source of the periodical payments is reasonably financially secure.
  6. The periodical payments may be varied to take into account foreseen changes in circumstances and additionally a provisional award for periodical payment may be made which can be re-opened if a deterioration occurs.
  7. The periodical payments order saves the claimant the future cost of administration and management of the award.


  1. If the claimant dies early, no money will go into his estate. The defendants will retain the remaining sums for their own benefit.
  2. There is no guarantee that future parliaments will continue to support the tax breaks presently allowed.
  3. The claimant cannot assign, mortgage or borrow from the security of the periodical payments without the consent of the court.
  4. The RPI for inflation may be inadequate as a measure for the future increase in the cost which the claimant has to meet, eg care or NHS costs.
  5. No financial body is ever wholly financially secure.
  6. Periodical payments are partially inflexible. Variation can only occur in limited circumstances which are allowed by the court and are foreseeable at the time of trial.