Published in Lawtel August 2019



Total Damages: £55,000 (£55,967.63 RPI)

Trial/settlement date: 21/8/2018
Age at trial: 32

PSLA: £20,000 (£20,351.86 RPI)
Type of Award: Out of Court Settlement
Court: Out of Court Settlement
Age at injury: 29
Sex: Male


The claimant, a 32-year-old man, received £55,000 after his left thumb was severed during an accident at work in April 2015. He lost approximately 50% of his thumb, suffered permanent scarring and pain and would be at a disadvantage on the open labour market.

Employers’ Liability; Industrial: On 9 April 2015 the claimant employee (C), during the course of his employment as a mechanical engineer for the defendant employer (D), was working on a ladder next to a machine. As he leant forwards slightly whilst holding a spanner, in order to make adjustments to the machine, the wheels on one side of the ladder lifted and the ladder moved backwards, sending C forward and into the machine. C’s spanner became caught between the left thumb and a blow pin and the thumb was subsequently severed to the knuckle above the fingernail.

C sustained injury and brought an action under the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 against D alleging that it was negligent in failing to (i) ensure that working at a height was properly planned, appropriately supervised and carried out in a reasonable and safe manner; (ii) ensure the ladder was suitable for the purpose for which it was used or provided.

Liability disputed. D denied that the ladder moved at any point. D alleged that C failed to follow the correct procedure when undertaking this task; that the correct procedure for adjusting the machine was to first turn off the machine before ascending the ladder and that C had been trained in the correct procedure but failed to turn off the machine; and that the moving head of the machine struck C’s spanner, forcing it down and trapping his thumb.

Injuries: The top of C’s thumb on the non-dominant left hand was severed to the knuckle above the fingernail.

Total injury duration: permanent

Effects: C underwent surgery involving debridement and reconstruction of the thumb area with a local flap. He lost approximately 50% of the thumb.

C suffered pain at the base of the left thumb. He experienced problems with gripping and lifting objects and intolerance to cold temperatures.

C was absent from his work as a mechanical engineer for three months after the accident.

Prognosis: C was left with permanently visible scarring and neuropathic pain. He would be at a disadvantage on the open labour market.

Out of Court Settlement: £55,000 total damages

Background to damages:

The case was settled on a global basis with no particular breakdown of damages. However, the following breakdown was estimated by the claimant’s solicitors:

Breakdown of General Damages: Pain, suffering and loss of amenity: £20,000.

Simmons v Castle [2012] EWCA Civ 1288 10 per cent uplift: applied.

Breakdown of Special Damages: Miscellaneous special damages: £35,000.

Express Solicitors Ltd (Manchester) for the claimant.

This Quantum Report was provided courtesy of Sana Farooq of Express Solicitors Ltd, solicitor for the claimant.

Document No. AM0203530

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