Vibration white finger compensation
A leading north east lawyer is urging the Government to change its tune in a bid to ensure scores of former miners in the region do not lose out on compensation for Vibration White Finger (VWF).
Roger Maddocks, Partner and industrial disease specialist at Newcastle personal injury law firm Irwin Mitchell, is urging the Government to agree to honour previous commitments to treat miners fairly and see that they are paid the compensation properly due to them.
Mr Maddocks is leading the fight to persuade the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (DBERR, previously the DTI) to change its policy over aspects of the British Coal Vibration White Finger Claims Handling Arrangement (CHA).
The CHA was set up in 1999 to pay compensation to miners who had developed VWF as a result of exposure to vibration at work.
It was intended to provide a quick and inexpensive means of settling the huge number of claims and to enable miners to recover compensation without having to pursue claims to court and risk incurring a liability for legal costs. Over 100,000 cases have now been settled.
However, Mr Maddocks says that in a small proportion of the cases there is a dispute between the Government's claims handlers and the claimants as to their entitlement to compensation or some aspect of it. Many such disputes have already been settled by negotiation under the terms of the CHA.
But some disputes have proved more difficult to resolve and the claimants are keen for the courts to rule on the dispute under the CHA. The DBERR has continued to obstruct efforts by claimants to have disputes under the CHA resolved by the court in this way, even though provided for by the CHA itself.
The DBERR proposes that claimants who dispute the rejection of their claims should now embark on a fresh legal claim on a common law basis and fund the legal costs of the new claim themselves, eight years after the CHA was set up.
Mr Maddocks said: "The Government's approach offends any sense of justice. Whilst the Government continues to drag its feet in this way, Vibration White Finger sufferers are unable to turn to the courts promptly to resolve any disputes over their claim - meaning the Government's claims handlers can effectively act as judge and jury, rejecting a claim without a proper basis for doing so.
"Many elderly former miners are simply not in a position to embark on a fresh claim in this way."
Mr Maddocks added: "The Governments position that the CHA provided no more than a series of hoops that claims could go through and did not provide for claims to be resolved under the CHA is contrary to both the letter and spirit of the agreement.
"The current position of the Government is likely to cause a great deal of resentment in the coalfields. We want to see transparency and fairness, but the current stance goes against the Governments stated objective of ensuring that former mineworkers are treated fairly and are properly compensated. It is also entirely contrary to its stated position that miners should receive compensation without having to incur any legal costs."
Vibration White Finger Compensation Claims
If you or a loved one has suffered from repetitive strain injuries, such as bursitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, ulnar neuropathy and vibration white finger caused by conditions at work, our solicitors could help you claim compensation. See our Industrial Disease Claims page for more information.