Case Study: Multi-skilled Bricklayer Claims After Being Diagnosed With Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome

Mr B Received £10,000

With JMW's help, a multi-skilled bricklayer has won a £10,000 settlement after being diagnosed with hand arm vibration syndrome.

The Case

Mr B worked for many years as a multi-skilled bricklayer/building operative, regularly using vibratory tools.  He started suffering from symptoms of Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) in 2009 and decided to make a claim roughly 18 months after this.  He was put in touch with us online, and Abigail Morrison, Associate, dealt with his claim. 

The Claim

Mr B told Abigail that he was suffering from painful fingers, numbness and that his fingers went white at the ends on a regular basis.  Mr B’s main source of exposure to vibratory tools had been during a nine year period working for his local borough Council as a multi-skilled bricklayer/building operative.  This meant that they would be the defendant in Mr B’s case. 

Abigail wrote a letter of claim to the Council, outlining Mr B’s intent to claim for his injury sustained by his exposure to vibrating power tools.  She also requested copies of Mr B’s medical records and his occupational health and personnel records. 

Employment Complications

The Council wrote to Abigail, and highlighted that Mr B had actually been TUPE’d over to another organisation that the council had contracted out to, two years before his employment ended.  This meant that responsibility for Mr B’s employment had been transferred to that organisation.  After discussions between the organisation’s parent company, the Council and Abigail, it was agreed that the parent company were the most appropriate defendant in the case. 

Abigail drafted a witness statement for Mr B, outlining the use of vibrating power tools over his lifetime, and the effect that Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome had had on him.  She also arranged for him to see an independent Consultant Vascular Surgeon, who was to prepare an independent medical report on Mr B’s condition. 

Medical Evidence

The independent Consultant Vascular Surgeon confirmed that Mr B was suffering from HAVS on both hands with his right hand reaching stage 2 vascular and stage 2 sensorineural, and his left hand reaching stage 1 vascular and stage 2 sensorineural. 

As Mr B’s case was nearing the time where it legally either needed to be settled or in the Court process, and because the defendant’s insurer hadn’t given us a decision on whether or not they felt they were responsible for Mr B’s condition, Abigail issued Court proceedings on the case. 

Issuing Court Proceedings

Abigail completed a Schedule of Loss document, which outlined all of Mr B’s past and future potential financial losses as a result of his condition.  This formed part of a bundle of documents used to issue Court proceedings, which was given to the defendant’s solicitor. 

The defendant’s solicitor put Mr B to strict proof that any condition he was suffering from was due to negligent exposure during his employment with the defendant.  We had a hearing with a District Judge to determine the next steps on the case.  It was agreed that we would instruct an engineering expert who would provide an independent report on Mr B’s working conditions. 

We received witness evidence from the defendant’s solicitor, which was not supportive of Mr B’s claim.  However, Abigail delivered some very supportive evidence from Mr B’s brother, who had been employed in a similar position. 

The defendant’s solicitor wanted to ask our independent Consultant Vascular Surgeon several questions about his report on Mr B, whose responses ultimately supported Mr B’s claim.  Meanwhile, Abigail received the engineering expert’s report.  It wasn’t particularly supportive of either Mr B or the defendant and effectively left the case open for the judge to decide. 

We prepared for Trial and Abigail held a pre-trial conference with Mr B and the barrister working on his case.  The defendant’s solicitor also asked the joint engineering expert another question on the case, and his answer was supportive of Mr B’s case. 

Final Settlement

The defendant’s solicitor then made what is known as a “drop hands” offer to Mr B; meaning that all parties agree to stop the case and pay their own costs.  This offer came just over two and a half weeks before Mr B’s Trial.  Abigail rejected the offer, and we were drawn into negotiations in an attempt to secure an increased offer.  We ultimately agreed on a compensation award of £10,000, just days before Mr B’s Trial.  Mr B was delighted with the result on his case, which had been hard fought against a stubborn defendant.

Has Your Work Also Made You Ill?

Speak to JMW Solicitors to see if you are eligible to make a claim. Call us on 0800 054 6570 or fill in our contact form.

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