Needlestick Injury Compensation Claims

If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a needlestick injury, we can help.

If your injuries were caused by the negligence of a doctor, nurse, midwife or other medical professional, you may be entitled to claim compensation.

Claiming injury compensation with a solicitor

You can make a compensation claim with the help and support of a specialist clinical negligence solicitor.

Your solicitor will ask you about what happened, and they will collect evidence to prove the negligence happened. Your solicitor will also work out how much money you can claim, based on your injuries, lost earnings and other expenses.

We can help you make a medical negligence claim on a No Win No Fee basis.

In this article

Introduction

Although procedures are in place to help prevent needlestick injuries (also called sharps injuries), a recent report by Public Health England (PHE) warned that "healthcare workers continue to be at risk of exposure to blood-borne viruses through occupational sharps injuries".

A estmated 100,000 needlestick injuries are reported each year, with the true number likely being much higher.

Needlestick brusing

Do I have an injury claim?

Medical negligence claims differ from personal injury claims as the following will need to be established:

  • there was a breach of duty ("negligence" or "fault"); and
  • the breach of duty was the cause of your injury, damage or loss ("causation" or "avoidable harm").

Breach of Duty

A breach of duty means that the standard of care you received was below the standard that could reasonably be expected of a competent healthcare professional.

Causation

To establish causation, it will need to be demonstrated that the injury you suffered resulted from the negligent care rather than the underlying condition.

Get an impartial opinion

To get impartial advice on whether you have a claim, speak to an injury claim expert on 0800 376 1001.

A brief phone consultation will tell you exactly where you stand. There is no obligation to start a claim.

Is compensation always payable?

If an error occurred during treatment and the patient was harmed as a result, this may be referred to as an "undesirable outcome".

Not all treatment that results in an undesirable outcome will result in the payment of compensation.

Sometimes an undesirable outcome is due to a known risk associated with the treatment, or due to a mistake that a doctor could reasonably have made in the circumstances.

What if I was diagnosed months after the needlestick injury?

Depending on how your needlestick injury happened, the three-year time limit may only start from the date you are diagnosed and learn of the cause of your injury. In some cases, this can be months or years after the cause occurred.

Do I need a diagnosis to make a needlestick injury claim?

If you have been injured and are awaiting the results, you should still seek legal advice as soon as possible. The sooner you start a needlestick injury claim after an accident, the more likely your claim is to succeed.

How long do I have to start a claim?

If your injury is apparent immediately after medical treatment, you will have 3 years to start a claim.

It may be that the negligent procedure happened more than 3 years ago, but your injury was only diagnosed recently, within the last 3 years. If so, you may still be able to make a claim.

What if your injury was diagnosed months or years after treatment?

You may not be immediately aware of your injury. In some cases, months and even years can pass before symptoms appear.

The law allows you to make a medical negligence claim up to three years after the 'date of knowledge' (when you first learned of the injury).

It is recommended that you start a claim as soon as possible, as medical negligence cases can be complex. Starting your claim sooner will give your solicitor more time to gather medical evidence, assess the extent of your injury and to negotiate interim payments and your final compensation amount.

How much compensation can I claim for an injury?

The amount of money you could claim for your injury will depend on:

  • the seriousness of your injury, and
  • any financial losses or costs you have incurred.

At the start of your claim, your solicitor will consider the many ways your injuries have affected your life. Your solicitor will take these considerations into account to calculate the correct compensation award.

This calculation will factor in 'general damages' and 'special damages'.

General damages

General damages are awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA).

Awards for general damages are set by the Judicial College and published in their guidelines for personal injury awards.

Special damages

Special damages are for financial losses and expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident.

What can I claim for after an injury? (see list)

Examples of special damages (losses you can claim for) include:

  • Lost earnings (including future earnings)
  • Medical treatment costs
  • Physiotherapy
  • Travel costs
  • Costs of care
  • Costs of adapting your home or car

What is the average injury compensation for an injury claim?

The Judicial College injury tables give a approximate idea of the ranges awarded for different injuries.

However, the money you would receive following an injury will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.

Your injury compensation will be calculated based on the unique impact your injuries have had on your life and your ability to work, and on the actual financial losses you have incurred as a result of your injuries.

Can I claim for prescription costs?

Special damages are awarded for costs or losses incurred as a result of the needlestick injury injury. Damages can include loss of earnings, treatment cost and any other 'out-of-pocket' expenses such as prescriptions.

Calculate my injury compensation

Calculating how much compensation you can claim for an injury can be complicated.

Our injury compensation calculator tells you if you may have a claim, how much compensation you could claim, and what you can claim for.

Find out what your injury claim could be worth now:

Calculate compensation

How long does a needlestick injury claim take?

How long it can take to win compensation for a needlestick injury can vary considerably.

A straightforward liability accepted medical negligence claim could be settled in 12 to 24 months. However, if court proceedings are needed a claim can take 2 to 5 years. Typically, a medical negligence claim takes 12 to 36 months. See more: How long will my claim take?

How else can a solicitor help me?

Your solicitor will handle your injury claim from the initial FREE case evaluation, through to the financial settlement.

Your solicitor will work with other specialists to provide caring and sensitive support and help you with:

  • Financial support: interim payments while you are unable to work.
  • Advice: on personal injury trusts, tax and welfare benefits.
  • Coordination: with rehabilitation providers and therapists.
  • Access: to treatment and therapies not always available on the NHS.

What exactly is a needlestick injury?

A needlestick injury - sometimes called a percutaneous injury - occurs when the flesh is punctured by a hypodermic needle or similar piece of medical equipment, like a scalpel.

As well as causing bleeding, swelling and tenderness at the site of the puncture, needles contaminated with an infected patient's blood can transmit over 20 diseases.

Over a 10 year period it is estimated that of the 4,830 significant exposures to healthcare workers 30% involved a source patient with HIV, 54% with Hepatitis C and 9% with Hepatitis C.

How are needlestick injuries caused and who is at risk?

Most needlestick injuries are a result of needles and sharps not being correctly disposed of, and are preventable.

Some arise as the result of clinical negligence, but the majority affect involve accidents at work and negligent work procedures.

Despite hospitals having rigorous disposal procedures in place, healthcare workers are the main group at risk, due to the volume of hypodermic syringes and sharp instruments used.

65% of their injuries take place during clinical procedures in wards, A&E departments and operating theatres.

Unfortunately, because hypodermic needles may be discarded in public places, such as parks, public toilets and alleyways, anyone may come into contact with used needles.

As well as healthcare workers, Quittance's team of solicitors have handled claims on behalf of people working in the following occupations:

  • Council workers
  • Waste disposal operatives
  • Police officers
  • Prison officers
  • Dentists

How can the risks be reduced?

  • Workers should be provided with appropriate training on the handling and disposal of needles where they may be at risk of contact.
  • Where sharps bins are provided for the disposal of sharps these should always be used.
  • Sharps bins should be emptied and replaced regularly to prevent over-filling.
  • People working where there is a risk of coming into contact with discarded needles should be issued with personal protective equipment (PPE). This includes safety boots, knee pads, heavy duty gloves, tongs and litter pickers.
  • Discarded needles should never be held with the bare hand and no worker should be expected to deal with them without adequate protection.
  • Workers should never be expected to put their hands into places they cannot see, such as inside drains or in a U bend of pipes.
  • Those who may be at risk should consider vaccination for Hepatitis B and Tetanus.

Other suggested measures include the provision of disposal containers and night-time security by local councils in known problem areas. Medical manufacturers are being urged to replace standard hypodermic needles with safer needles which retract or are destroyed after use.

Injury and illness arising from a needlestick puncture wound

Needlestick injuries can have serious consequences if untreated. Even if a needlestick injury inflicted by a medical professional is not itself negligent, failure to appropriately treat the injury may amount to negligence.

The following procedures should be carried out to reduce the risk of further injury:

  • Encourage the wound to gently bleed, ideally holding it under running water
  • Wash the wound using running water and plenty of soap, but do not scrub
  • Do not suck the wound
  • Dry the wound and cover with a waterproof plaster or dressing
  • Seek urgent medical advice as medicines are available to help fight infection

It is likely that blood tests will be taken, with follow ups in 3, 6 and 12 months to allow viruses to show up on the tests.

The transmission of infection depends on a number of factors, including the person's natural immune system.

Although the number of injuries each year is high, only a small number cause infections leading to serious illness.

Psychological harm and needle injuries

Anxiety about the potential consequences of a needlestick injury may have a significant personal impact on an individual as may side effects of any medical treatment.

Will I have to go to court?

Highly unlikely. Solicitors settle the vast majority of claims out of court.

Less than 5% of personal injury claims go to court. Generally, only very complex cases, or those where liability cannot be resolved, end up in court.

Cases that do ultimately go to court are decided by a judge or magistrate, not a jury.

Even if the claim does go to court, it is very unlikely you will have to attend.

Read more:

Will my injury claim go to court and what if it does?

No win, no fee, no risk

No Win, No Fee is an agreement with your solicitor (known as a Conditional Fee Agreement or CFA) that means that you can make an injury claim with:

  • no upfront legal fees
  • no solicitor's fees payable if your claim is not successful
  • a success fee payable only if your claim is successful

No Win, No Fee is the most common way to make a compensation claim.

No win, no fee - our guarantee

Our no win, no fee guarantee means there is absolutely no financial risk in making an injury claim, even if you don't win your claim. Read more about making a No win, no fee claim

What do I pay if I win my injury claim?

Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, after your compensation is awarded. The solicitor's success fee can be up to 25%. You and your solicitor can agree the success fee before you start your claim.

What do I pay if I do not win my injury claim?

If your injury claim is not successful then you will not have to pay any fees. Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.

Why do most solicitors charge 25%?

25% success fees are charged by most law firms as this is the maximum fee that the Ministry of Justice allows them to charge. needlestick injury claims can take a solicitor hundreds of hours work and they receive nothing if the case is lost. The success fee will be subject to your individual circumstances and the actual fee may vary. Call us for more information.

How we can help you

Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, and the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning medical negligence claims.

If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open:

  • 8am to 9pm weekdays
  • 9am to 6pm on Saturday
  • 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday

Call us for FREE advice on 0800 376 1001, or arrange a call back from a friendly, legally-trained advisor:

Call me back
  • Tick icon FREE consultation
  • Tick icon Find out if you can claim
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Injury FAQ's

Can I claim for someone else?

Yes. In certain circumstances, it is possible to claim compensation on behalf of another person in the capacity of a 'litigation friend'.

If an injured person is either too young or vulnerable, too injured or otherwise unable to claim on their own behalf, their litigation friend can handle the claim process on behalf of the injured person.

The litigation friend will be responsible for communicating with the solicitors, and for making decisions in respect of the claim.

Read more:

Claiming on behalf of another person.

Will I have to visit a solicitor's office to start a claim?

No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. Personal injury claims are handled by email, post and phone.

Should you need to have a medical, this will be arranged at a medical centre near you or at your GP's surgery.

Read more:

Will I have to visit a solicitor's office?

I need the money now - what are my options?

If you are unable to work and have bills to pay, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.

An interim payment is an advance on your compensation payment. Any amount you receive in interim payments would be deducted from your final compensation payment.

Read more:

How to I get an interim compensation payment?

Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor

Author:
Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor