Man receives £785,000 out of court settlement after defective saw severs fingers and damages hand
Claimant: Male: 26 years old at date of accident; 29 years old at date of settlement.
The Claimant was provided with prostheses which comprised i-limb Digits, a cosmetic partial hand prostheses and a protective device.
On the 25th July 2014 the Claimant was instructed by his employer to set up a saw to ensure that it cut lengths of timber to the correct size. The Claimant pushed a piece of wood through the saw and then walked to the back of the saw to pull the wood through with both hands. As the Claimant pulled the wood through the machine kicked back and the Claimant’s left (non-dominant) hand was taken back in to the blade causing the Claimant injury. The saw was not fitted with a riving knife, the guard was inadequate and there was no take off (extension) table.
The Claimant sustained a severe injury to his left hand which resulted in the loss of his little and ring fingers with loss of the blood supply to the middle finger, loss of both digital nerves to the index and middle fingers and division of the flexor tendons to both fingers. The Claimant underwent surgery to repair the injured structures which included amputation of the remnant of the little finger and also the entire ring finger. The Claimant underwent a second operation to stabilise the distal interphalangeal joint of his middle finger and repair damage to the ulna collateral ligament.
The Claimant suffered a significant loss of power grip and sensation.
The Claimant was diagnosed as suffering from PTSD due to intrusive flashbacks of the accident which were vivid and anxiety provoking, anxiety regarding the use of power saws, anxiety regarding risks in general, hypervigilance, anxiety as a car passenger and as a driver, anxiety when washing knives, irritability and disturbed sleep. In addition the Claimant was also diagnosed with an adjustment disorder, mixed anxiety and a depressive disorder.
The Claimant underwent a course of CBT and EMDR on a private basis.
The Claimant was also found to suffer from chronic neuropathic pain as a result of his injuries and the pain and hypersensitivity increased his level of disability. The Claimant was treated with Capsaicin patches by the Pain Clinic.
Following a positive trial the Claimant was provided with three different types of prosthetic device. The i-limb digits provided the Claimant with functional, physical and psychological benefits. The Claimant used this device at work and home.
The Claimant was also provided with a cosmetic partial hand prosthesis. This prosthesis offered little or no functional advantage but it disguised the injuries to the Claimant’s hand. The Claimant used this prosthesis during social occasions.
The Claimant was also provided with a protective device which covered and protected the sensitive amputation site during activities where the hand was likely to be knocked or banged leading to pain and discomfort.
The Claimant was unable to return to his pre-accident work by virtue of his injury. He was limited in his work capabilities and was unable to do any work which involved exposure to cold or damp conditions on a regular basis and was unable to undertake work that required constant use of both hands. He was unable to work in heavy industry.
Upon receipt of the i-limb digits the Claimant was able to obtain work as a Postman. The prosthetic prosthesis allowed the Claimant to interact in social situations more easily and the protective prosthesis provided protection to the very tender area over the amputation stump at the base of the little finger.
Out of Court Settlement: £785,000.00 total damages
Background to damages: The Claimant obtained Medico-Legal evidence from a Consultant Orthopaedic hand and wrist Surgeon, a Prosthetist, a Consultant in Pain Medicine and a Consultant Psychiatrist. The Claimant used an interim payment to fund a trial of the i-limb digit prostheses. Following a successful trial the Defendant agreed to fund the provision of all three prostheses under the Rehabilitation Code.
The matter settled at a Joint Settlement Meeting for the gross sum of £785,000.00.
Approximate Breakdown of General Damages: Pain, suffering and loss of amenity: £45,000.00.
Approximate Breakdown of Special Damages: Past losses £42,000.00: Future losses: DIY £5,000.00; Loss of Earnings £200,000.00; Additional Cost of Automatic Vehicle: £15,000.00; Silicone Cosmetic prostheses: £59,000.00; Protective prostheses: £61,000.00; i-limb digit maintenance and associated costs £358,000.00.
Louise Hart of Royds Withy King (Bath) for the Claimant.
Counsel for the Claimant: Anna Symington, St John’s Chambers.
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