£33,555 award for work-related head and joint pain
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Work Injury Details
The claimant suffered head and joint pain with vascular and nerve damage to both his feet and hands. This was as a result of exposure to extremely low temperatures. The claimant was left in constant pain which was permanent. He was likely to develop in the future joint pain in all major joints such as knee, back, ankle and hip.
He also suffered from psychological symptoms which were at the worst for the first three months after diagnosis. He was left more irritable and angry about his condition. The condition also meant that he would be limited in the types of future employment he could carry out.
Liability - cause of injuries
The claimant worked as an Engineer maintaining an industrial freezer for a period of two years. The freezer was of such a size that it housed overhead cranes which the claimant maintained. The main cause of the claimant's injuries was that he was constantly working in temperatures between -20c and -70c. Liability for the injuries was not disputed but allegations were made that the claimant was exaggerating his symptoms.
Subsequent Treatment and Progress
After 2 years the claimant was signed off as unfit to work. After stopping working in such low temperatures his symptoms began to improve but would remain permanent. It was recommended by medical experts that he take regular medications to help reduce symptoms and that he work in a future environment that did not involve low temperatures. The claimant left the defendants employment three months after being signed off as unfit to work.
The claimant ideally was advised to go live in a warmer climate. However, this was not possible. The claimant would need to wear specially insulated clothing for his hands and feet. The claimant managed to find another job but this was still outside but not working in minus temperatures.
Effect on Lifestyle
The claimant had to wear thermal undergarments, special gloves and socks when outside. He was expected to develop problems with joint pain over the next 10-20 years. The claimant already had joint pain in his back, hip, knee and ankle.
The judge hearing the claimant's case dismissed arguments that the claimant was exaggerating his symptoms. He agreed with the medical experts that the claimant would continue to have significant ongoing joint pain. Whilst the claimant continued to work as a Maintenance Engineer this was no longer in extremely low temperatures, but the Judge considered the claimant was likely to suffer a disadvantage if he tried to seek alternative employment.
The Judge made an award for pain suffering and loss of amenity of £20,000 with additional award of £7,000 for the likely disadvantage the claimant would suffer if he looked for other employment. The overall award allowing for loss of earnings and necessary care was £33,555.
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Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher
About the author
Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.