Welder receives compensation following thumb crush injury

How can we help you?

Your enquiry will be reviewed with no obligation.

Welder receives compensation following thumb crush injury

21st March 2013

A welder whose thumb was ‘smashed to smithereens’ by a heavy steel girder in an accident at work has received £115,000 in an out of court settlement.

Rob Synnott, a workplace accident specialist at Fentons Solicitors LLP, said the Cambridge man was forced to give up a career he had enjoyed for more than 30 years.

“On the day of his accident my client was moving some girders with an overhead crane,” said Rob. “Owing to their size and weight, it was standard practice to use the crane for such a job but when his supervisor saw what he was doing he ordered him to move the girders by hand to save time.

“When his supervisor took one end of a girder he instructed my client to help,” added Rob. “But when they lifted the girder off the ground, the supervisor suddenly dropped his end which left my client bearing the full weight of the steel on his own. Unable to handle the weight, my client inevitably dropped the girder whereupon it rolled onto his right hand and crushed his thumb.”

Rob said his client had described his thumb as looking like a ‘squashed tomato’ at the time. “In hospital, the doctors treating my client informed him he’d be extremely lucky if his thumb could be saved,” he said. “When he asked them if they could simply wire the shattered thumb together he was told his thumb was so badly damaged that there was nothing for the wires to attach to as the bones had been ‘smashed to smithereens’.”

The man’s supervisor visited him in hospital and offered to reimburse any medical and transport expenses he was likely to incur, suggesting he come back to work and answer the phones for the rest of the week. “When he showed his supervisor the sick note he had been given and told him there was no possibility of him returning to work that week, his supervisor said: ‘If you hadn’t given me the stupid sick note no-one would have been any the wiser’,” said Rob.

Over the next three months the claimant suffered constant pain and was unable to work or indeed wash, shave or dress himself without the aid of his partner. During this time, his employers refused to reimburse his medical expenses as promised and said that to do so would be an admission of liability.

“When my client felt ready to return to work on lighter duties he was given a list of tasks he would be expected to perform on his return,” said Rob. “But the list was completely unrealistic given his injuries, as it included the use of electrically powered tools such as drills, saws and grinders. After another assessment his GP signed him off work for a further three months. When his employers then refused to give him any of the outstanding pay he was owed, he resigned.

“My client began looking for driving jobs as he found he was able to adapt his driving style by holding the steering wheel with his fingers,” added Rob. “Unfortunately, the only jobs he was able to secure were delivery roles and although he was able to handle the driving without pain he was unable to perform any kind of repeated or heavy lifting.”

After struggling to find work over a period of months, the claimant developed very severe depression and underwent extensive psychiatric counselling and therapy. Although he showed some improvements in his condition, his mental health remained such that it became impossible for him to hold down a job.

Rob said that although his client was a qualified fabricator and welder with over 30 years of experience he has not been able to work for more than two years. “During this time,” he said, “my client has continued to receive ongoing psychiatric treatment and has had to rely on his partner for financial support as he has received no income whatsoever except for his incapacity benefit.

“Were it not for his employer’s negligence and the devastating results his injury has had upon his physical limitations and mental health, my client would have had no problem in securing work as a skilled labourer - work that he previously enjoyed and would have been able to continue up until his retirement. On the day of his accident, he was following procedure and using an overhead crane to move girders that were far too heavy for safe manual handling. It was only because his supervisor specifically requested him to handle the girders by hand that his injury occurred.”

How can Fentons Solicitors help?

Fentons Solicitors has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for victims of accidents in the workplace.

If you think that you have a case or require further information contact Fentons on 0800 0191 297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.