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Case Study: Ceiling Fixer Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome
Mr K Received £50,000
A former ceiling worker has been awarded £50,000 after he contracted hand arm vibration syndrome whilst using machinery without appropriate personal protective equipment.
Mr K worked as a suspended ceiling fixer for 23 years, making use of vibrating tools without gloves, for extended periods of time, throughout the course of his job. He started suffering from the symptoms of Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) and decided to make a claim against his employer. He was put in touch with JMW Solicitors where Associate, Abigail Morrison, handled his case.
Mr K's Symptoms
Abigail took information from Mr K regarding his claim. He told her that the three middle fingers on his left hand, from knuckle to nail, went numb and white when exposed to the slightest cold, although this numbness could extend through his hand and sometimes down his arm. Unfortunately, Mr K was made redundant just before he started his claim and has had difficulty obtaining work since.
How JMW Handled The Claim
Abigail wrote a letter of claim to Mr K’s former employer, who passed it to their insurer to deal with.
Abigail asked an independent Consultant Vascular Surgeon to provide a medical report on Mr K’s condition. It highlighted that he had developed HAVS as a result of his work environment. It also showed that he would not be able to work on a building site again and so Abigail needed to ensure that part of Mr K’s claim included an allowance for his disadvantage on the open labour market.
She also put together a Schedule of Loss document, which outlined all the financial losses Mr K had experienced as a result of his injury.
As Mr K decided to make a claim fairly close to the date where legally, a claim should either be settled or in the court process, Abigail issued protective Court proceedings on the case. The defendant’s insurer instructed a solicitor to deal with the case. We agreed with the defendant’s solicitor that we would ask an independent engineer to provide a report on Mr K’s former work environment and how they may have influenced his injuries.
The report supported Mr K’s claim, saying that Mr K was likely to have been exposed to vibrations above the level associated with a risk of injury. It noted that the defendant should have been aware of the risks associated with operating vibratory machinery and potential exposure to contracting Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome. It also noted that it would have been appropriate for the defendant to consider actions to control the risk associated with exposure, and no evidence of this had been provided.
Joint Medical Evidence
The defendant’s solicitor wanted to get their own medical report on Mr K’s condition. The report largely agreed with our medical expert’s report; that Mr K suffered from HAVS and was at a disadvantage on the open labour market. However, the defendant’s expert did not think Mr K was suffering from the sensorineural components of HAVS, whereas our own expert did. Therefore, the medical experts prepared a joint report to submit to Court.
As the defendant had been insured by five different insurers over the course of Mr K’s employment with them, each insurer had to be in agreement regarding their responsibility for the case and how much of Mr K’s compensation they should each be paying. They were unable to reach an agreement, and the case progressed to Trial, so that a Judge could decide on the matter.
However, on the morning of the Trial, the defendant’s solicitor was authorised to make a last minute offer of £50,000 to settle the case. After discussion, Mr K agreed he would be happy with this offer. The matter went in front of the Judge, who found in Mr K’s favour and that £50,000 was an appropriate settlement amount. Mr K was delighted with this result.