Compensation For Loss of Three Fingers at Work
Robert was employed as a landscape gardener by a firm of environment/landscape consultants until he was injured at work. On the day of the accident he was operating a circular saw which was used to cut tree trunks into small manageable woodblocks. As he was operating the machinery – in line with his instructions, the machine malfunctioned. As a result of this, Robert lost 3 fingers of his dominant right hand and he could not carry on working in his current job.
We made a claim for compensation on Robert’s behalf. The employers denied responsibility. They argued that the accident could not have happened unless Robert was using the machine incorrectly. They alleged that he had lifted the guard which meant he was responsible for his own injuries. Robert denied this, and pointed to the ineffectiveness of the guarding mechanism. He also demonstrated that the guard was likely to lift through the action of the saw against the wood. In other words, he claimed that the machinery was defective.
Evidence for Robert’s claim for an injury at work
We provided evidence from an expert engineer in support of Robert’s allegation. This engineer examined the machinery shortly after the accident and he offered a comprehensive explanation of how the accident took place. He explained how it could have happened without any negligence on Robert’s part. By contrast the Defendants obtained their own expert evidence which showed the opposite. Their evidence supported the Defendant’s view that the accident could only have taken place as a result of operator error.
We needed to impose pressure on the Defendants so we invited the court to try the issue of liability (responsibility) as a preliminary issue. Despite a persistent denial from the Defendants, they conceded their responsibility only 2 days before the start of the trial.
Assessing the Impact of the Loss of Fingers at Work
For the next step, we needed to prove the impact on Robert as a result of losing his fingers. Because of his injuries, he was unable to return to his previous employment. He was also very significantly handicapped in obtaining alternative work. Indeed since the accident, he had been unable to find any work at all. He had very limited use of the injured hand which made it impossible for him to carry on working in a manual occupation. Because of the accident, he now requires considerable help from others and this will deteriorate as he gets older.
We got expert evidence from a hand specialist, who examined Robert. This helped us to negotiate a very significant settlement for him. Although this does not turn back the clock, it has enabled Robert to begin to rebuild his life. It also compensates him for his future loss of earnings.
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