£132,276 award for defective machine hand injury

Solicitors secured £132,276 for a 35 year old man who suffered a severe injury to his hand injury inflicted in a slicing accident.

Circumstances

The claimant was born in India and trained as a motor mechanic.

The claimant worked for the Defendant, a food manufacturing factory through an employment agency. Initially the Claimant worked as a Security Guard.

After a short time the claimant was promoted by the Defendant to the post of engineer where he worked on repairing and maintaining the Defendant's machines.   The Claimant was requested to try fix a machine used for making naan bread.

The Claimant had received no training to act or work in the capacity he was working repairing machines. When the Claimant inspected the machine he found that the usual overrides to stop the machine safely were defective. As a consequence whilst trying to repair the machine one of the internal parts moved causing traumatic amputation of the right index finger at its tip.

Injuries and Progression

The traumatic amputation of the tip of his index finger on his dominant right hand caused damage to the nerves. This resulted in continued pain and for the tip to be sensitive mostly in wintery conditions. Delicate tasks which required careful coordination of index finger and thumb were not possible. The Claimant declined surgery to try improve the situation because he was worried that the situation could be made worse.

In addition to his physical injuries the Claimant suffered significant psychological harm. He developed moderately severe post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The Claimant was due to be married in an arranged service with a woman from India. The wedding was called off by the woman's parents partly because of the Claimant's injuries. The Claimant began to suffer from panic attacks. He was depressed and became withdrawn.

It was expected with medication for his depression and therapy for his post traumatic stress that the psychological symptoms would resolve with time.

Settlement  

The Claimant and Defendant solicitors entered into negotiations to try reach an amicable settlement. This was not possible. The main of area of dispute was the Claimant's potential claim for future loss of earnings. Court proceedings were commenced and determined by a Judge who found in favour of the Claimant in respect of the argument for future loss of earnings.

The Claimant was criticised by the Judge for not having the recommended surgery. The Claimant had found alternative employment since the accident.

The employment was not through an agency and was therefore more permanent.  The Claimant was earning the same wage.

Having considered the medical evidence and arguments raised by Counsel for both parties the Judge found that the case was more serious than the Claimant just being at a disadvantage on the open labour market. He found pursuant to the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 that the Claimant was disabled.

Using actuarial tables (Ogden) the Judge made a significant award for future loss of earnings. The total award of £132,276 included £22,500 for the Claimant's pain suffering and loss of amenity. The balance was comprised of past and future loss of earnings, future treatment, travel expenses and interest..