Vibration white finger compensation claims

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Paul Carvis

Panel Personal Injury Solicitor

A guide to making a No Win No Fee vibration white finger claim

Vibration white finger (VWF) is an industrial injury, caused by prolonged and excessive use of vibrating tools and equipment in the workplace.

A Medical Research Council survey estimated there are 301,000 cases of vibration white finger in the UK. The condition comes under the umbrella term, Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), which includes Carpel Tunnel Syndrome.

Symptoms of vibration white finger

Vibration white finger is the result of injury to nerves, muscles and blood-vessels in the arm, hand, wrist and fingers. Symptoms of Vibration White Finger can vary widely. Some people will experience almost all of the common symptoms, while others will experience only one or two. Compensation for vibration white finger takes into account the impact specific symptoms have on a patient's live and ability to work. 

Typical symptoms of vibration white finger are:

  • Tingling sensations or numbness in the fingertips - these sensations can also extend up the whole length of the fingers. These symptoms can be intermittent, or permanent, causing difficulty in tasks such as fastening buttons, or picking up small objects.
  • Cold fingers/ Skin discolouration of the fingers - in some cases fingers can turn from white to blue, or red.  These symptoms are caused by a form of Raynaud's Disease, which is often triggered by being out in cold weather, or holding cold objects.
  • Aches and pains in the arms, hands and fingers - these symptoms are believed to be caused by damage to muscles, joints or bones. In some cases reduced strength is experienced when trying to grip objects.

Prevention of vibration white finger in the workplace

The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 were brought in to protect workers from developing vibration white finger.

Under the Regulations, employers have a duty of care to their employees. Employers should implement measures to minimise the risk of developing vibration white finger, such as:

  • Providing regular work-breaks, away from using vibrating tools and equipment
  • Providing anti-vibration gloves
  • Keeping the working environment temperature within reasonable limits
  • Providing the correct tools for the job
  • Providing appropriate training on the operation and use of vibration tools

Health and Safety Executive figures show, the introduction of preventative measures is gradually reducing the number of new cases of vibration white finger.

Where the above risk management measures have not been observed, such as an employer providing inadequate protective equipment, it is likely that an injury claim can be made.

Diagnosing vibration white finger 

Symptoms of vibration white finger often do not show immediately after the vibration injury. Symptoms can take 10 years or more to surface. When seeking initial medical advice, the consulting GP will need a full occupational history. This will help the GP establish a work link to the onset of vibration white finger symptoms.

To establish a vibration white finger diagnosis the consulting GP will require:

  • Evidence of long-term occupational exposure to vibration
  • Incidents of skin discolouration in the fingers
  • Exclusion of other possible causes
  • Calluses on the hand, diminished sensation in the fingers and muscle weakness are additional factors which will support a diagnosis

You do not need to have received a confirmed diagnosis to commence your vibration white finger claim. Your lawyer will arrange for an independent medical report to establish your diagnosis for the purposes of a claim.

When to commence your vibration white finger claim

There is a statutory time limit of three years for making personal injury compensations claims. This time limit is calculated as:

  • Three years from the date of the injury  or
  • Three years from the date the Claimant became aware of the injury

If you are making a Vibration White Finger claim, you should commence your claim within three years of receiving a confirmed vibration white finger diagnosis. Due to the nature of the condition, most claims for vibration white finger are not started until many years after the work than caused the injury was performed. 

How much can you claim for vibration white finger?

The Courts are recommended to award from between £2,420 and £6,985 where vibration white finger symptoms are relatively minor. For more serious symptoms affecting a younger person and prompting a change of job, the award for general damages will likely be between £25,575 and £31,075.

In addition to the general damages for pain and suffering, compensation can also be claimed for special damages for expenses that have been incurred due to the injury, and for lost earnings.

Explaining No Win, No Fee compensation agreements

No Win, No Fee injury claims start once the Claimant signs, with a injury lawyer, a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA).

The CFA sets out the work your solicitor delivers and a percentage-based "success fee" that will be taken from your compensation when they win the case.

There will be no hidden fees using a Quittance solicitor. You can prioritise your recovery, with the knowledge that that you will never be out of pocket and there will be absolutely nothing to pay at the outset.

What should you do next?

Making the right decision depends on the right information. Get any questions answered before you instruct.

Find answers to questions asked by potential Claimants in our FAQ section.

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