£3,000 awarded to taxi driver for thumb injury

In the Northampton County Court a 56 year old man was awarded £3,250 for a soft tissue injury to his thumb caused by a road traffic accident.

Injury:

The claimant was a self-employed taxi-driver.  He was 53 years old when the accident occurred and 56 years old at trial.

HIs taxi was involved in a collision on the offside.  As he got out of his vehicle,  he caught his left thumb in the steering wheel and his thumb was hyperextended backwards. This caused him immediate pain and suffering.  At the time there was no swelling or bruising, but he experienced throbbing at the site of the injury.

The claimant made several visits to his doctor and had to take painkillers including ibuprofen and co-dydramol. He did not take any time off work, because he would not have had any income if he did so. He wore a thumb support and had six physiotherapy sessions.

The injury interfered with his hobbies and prevented him from playing golf twice a week which was his usual habit.  He couldn't carry shopping with his left hand or do any gardening. The pain interfered with his sleeping for a period of time.

Some eighteen weeks later, when he was examined by a medical expert, the claimant's thumb was still painful. The expert referred the claimant for an MRI scan to be reviewed by an expert hand surgeon. A mild thickening of the ulna collateral ligament was visible on the MRI scan, but otherwise the ligament appeared intact and a sprain was diagnosed.

The MRI scan also showed that there was some arthritic degeneration of the base of the thumb which had not previous caused a problem and the claimant had been unaware of this.

Eight months after the accident, the claimant was reviewed by the hand surgeon who confirmed that the injuries would probably resolve in about twenty months.  The surgeon said that, in his opinion, the claimant might have developed similar problems at some time, however, if it had not been for the accident, these were likely to have lasted only twelve months.

Allegation

It was alleged that the defendant had caused the claimant's injury as a direct result of failing to drive with due care and attention.

The claimant alleged that two years after the accident, at the date of the trial he was still awaiting treatment. He was needed to use a thumb support, and had regular pain and stiffness in the joint of his thumb.

Settlement and conclusion

The Judge agreed with the expert that the duration of the injury was 20 months, and he decided that the injury fell within the JC Guidelines Chapter 7(I)(y), severe dislocation of thumb. Although there was no actual dislocation, the injury was similar to a dislocation in  its severity and the length of recovery time.

£3,250 was awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity.