Our workplace illness lawyers helped a man claim compensation from his employer, Cuddy Demolition & Dismantling Limited after developing Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS).
Clive* started working for Cuddy Demolition & Dismantling Limited in March 2011 as a self-employed groundworker. He was responsible for preparing construction sites for new homes.
Clive had to do different jobs including drainage work, slab work and installing new kerbs. He also did tarmacking and concrete work in a team of three people. He worked from 7:30 am to 5:00 pm and sometimes did overtime on Saturdays.
During his employment, Cuddy Demolition & Dismantling Limited gave Clive all the tools he needed to do his job. Most of the time, Clive used tools like a jackhammer and a disc cutter that caused a lot of vibration when he used them.
Sometimes, Clive would use a disc cutter for long hours when he had to fit kerbstones that needed to be cut to size. This work would include cutting 30 to 40 kerbstones at a time.
The start of HAVS symptoms
Clive began to feel HAVS symptoms like whiteness of fingers, tingling, numbness or pain in the fingers and loss of movement in the hands and fingers. He reported this to his employer but they didn’t make any adjustments to help him.
At the time, Clive was using vibrating tools for up to two hours a day. He tried to limit this time by swapping duties with his team members, but his symptoms kept getting worse.
How We Helped
In 2015, Clive contacted our solicitors to see if we could help him claim compensation from Cuddy Demolition & Dismantling Limited. He was still working for them at the time, but he was worried that if his symptoms got worse, he would be unable to work at all.
Our team, led by Alex Shorey, got a consultant vascular surgeon to give his expert medical opinion on Clive’s condition. The surgeon assessed Clive’s symptoms and reported that Clive had sensory damage in his fingers and vascular damage too. He classed Clive’s condition as 3V:1SN on the Stockholm scale. Doctors use this scale help diagnose the seriousness of HAVS because often patients can have very different symptoms. Clive’s assessment meant that his symptoms were severe with irregular numbness in his fingers.
With this evidence, we made a claim against Clive’s employers. It was clear that even though Clive had told them about his symptoms, they didn’t do anything to help. The best way to stop HAVS symptoms is to stop using the tools that cause the symptoms in the first place. But Clive’s employers still expected him to work and carry out his normal duties, even though he was in pain.
Cuddy Demolition & Dismantling Limited would not accept responsibility at first. They said that Clive could’ve got his symptoms from anywhere and that there was no proof he’d developed them because of his work.
The claim was set to go to trial on 5 September 2018. Before this, Cuddy Demolition & Dismantling Limited offered Clive a settlement of £5000. We rejected this offer because it wouldn’t be nearly enough to support Clive if he had to stop working or needed extra medical treatment.
On the night before the trial Cuddy Demolition & Dismantling Limited offered Clive £10,000. Again, we rejected this offer and they increased their offer to £30,000.
The next day we made a counter offer of £45,000. After some negotiation we agreed on a final settlement of £42,500 only minutes before the trial was due to start. With the expert medical evidence we’d gathered and the fact that Clive’s employers had not done anything to support Clive, they had to take responsibility.
Clive was relieved at the result and said “I’m so glad and relieved that Alex and his team were able to help me. This has been really stressful and I was worried I’d have to stop working. The settlement Irwin Mitchell got for me is much higher than I’d ever thought I’d get. I’m really happy.”
Alex Shorey, associate solicitor, said:
“Employers really need to ensure that they protect their workers form injuries and illnesses. Cuddy Demolition & Dismantling Limited did very little to support [Clive] and I’m glad we could help him get compensation after a very stressful few years.”
If you or a loved one is suffering from Vibration White Finger or HAVS, contact our team today on 0370 1500 100 or contact us online.
*Not client’s real name
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