Introduction to Vibration White Finger
If you have been diagnosed with a workplace vibration white finger injury, you will be aware that it is a condition brought about by the vibrations produced by machinery which damages the blood vessels, nerves and muscles in the hand wrist and arm. Although more commonly associated with the prolonged use of power drills, chain saws and jackhammers, the condition – which is now classified as an industrial disease – can also be sustained in other professions; for example, by a shoemaker who sustains an injury when continually cutting leather or a dental assistant who suffers from the effects of vibration when regularly using a tooth polisher on their patients.
Most people who sustain a vibration white finger injury at work do so because of a lack of training on how to use vibrating equipment safely or due to an employer´s failure to reduce the risk of an injury by allowing employees to work with vibrating power tools for longer than is healthy. This article provides general advice about making a claim for vibration white finger compensation in these circumstances but, as no two vibration white finger injury claims are identical, it is no substitute for individual legal advice from an experienced solicitor.
Health is More Important than a Vibration White Finger Claim
Should you believe that you have sustained a vibration white finger injury at work and are entitled to make a claim for vibration white finger compensation, but not yet seen a doctor, you should do so without delay. The tingling sensation in your hands can quickly deteriorate to the point where there is a loss of sensation in the affected digit(s) due to the damage that has already been done to the blood cells, and ultimately this will lead to a loss of grip and dexterity – sometimes permanent.
In order to make a vibration white finger compensation claim, it has to be proven that you have suffered an injury – and the only way that this can be substantiated is by your doctor´s medical records. To continue working without seeking medical attention will not only be bad for your health – it could also damage your vibration white finger claim if your employer subsequently alleges that you exacerbated your injury by your own lack of care.
Eligibility for Vibration White Finger Compensation
Once you have been diagnosed with a vibration white finger injury, the other condition that needs to be fulfilled before being eligible to make a claim for vibration white finger injury compensation is that your injury was attributable to the negligence of another – usually your employer – who had a duty to provide you with a safe environment in which to work. This duty of care not only relates to the physical surroundings in which you work, but also the tasks that are assigned to you and the tools you are provided with to complete those tasks.
Since 1976, a duty of care has been legally placed upon employers to protect their employees from injuries caused by vibrating power tools. Regulations such as Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (1998) and the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations (2005) should ensure that employers perform full risk assessments and provide training on the proper use of vibrating power tools, that regular breaks are scheduled and work duties rotated to minimise to the potential for workplace vibration white finger injury.
Where tools are provided by an employer which have been identified as potentially causative of a vibration white finger injury, those tools should have displays which measure the acceleration, amplitude and duration of vibrations. This allows the operator to gauge for themselves whether they are being exposed to the risk of injury and bring it to the attention of an employer. If you have not been provided with such a tool, trained on how to use it, permitted suitable rest periods or made a complaint to a person in seniority which has not been acted upon, you will be eligible to make a claim for vibration white finger injury compensation.
Making a Vibration White Finger Injury Compensation Claim
Once you have been diagnosed with a vibration white finger injury which you believe is due to an employer’s breach in his duty of care, it is advisable to make a report in your employer´s “Accident Report Book” to give a written account of what you believe caused your injury. You should retain a copy of the report for your reference and collect other evidence whenever possible in support of your claim for vibration white finger injury compensation
Evidence of negligence such as photographs of the machines or tools you were asked to work with and the testimony of work colleagues who also had to work with faulty equipment – and may have suffered a workplace vibration white finger injury as a consequence – will all be used by a solicitor to compile the strongest possible Letter of Claim. This letter is initially sent to your employer, who has twenty-one days in which to acknowledge receipt and a further three months to inform your solicitor whether he is going to acknowledge his liability for your injuries or contest your claim for vibration white finger compensation.
Depending on your employer´s response (and the majority of employers are sympathetic to your condition when they caused an injury due to their negligence), your solicitor will either calculate how much compensation you are entitled to receive or issue court proceedings. Either action is likely to prompt a response from your employer´s Employer Liability insurance company, who will wish to limit their exposure to vibration white finger compensation, but will also be keen to avoid litigation in order to save on costs. It is more than likely that your vibration white finger injury claim will be settled at this point by negotiation.
How Much Vibration White Finger Compensation Will I Get?
How much compensation for a vibration white finger injury you are entitled to is going to depend on a number of factors. First the extent of your injury will be considered in relation to your age, gender and general state of health before you were diagnosed with a workplace vibration white finger injury. However, if you contributed to the severity of your injury by failing to undergo a medical examination in a reasonable amount of time, your compensation for a vibration white finger injury at work may well be reduced to reflect your own lack of care.
You are also entitled to compensation for lack of amenity. This means that if your injury prevents you from completing day-to-day activities, driving or participating in social events and hobbies, you are compensated for the deterioration in your quality of life. You will also be awarded “special damages” to account for any quantifiable expenses you have incurred due to your injury and any loss of income which has been caused by your vibration white finger injury at work.
Offers of Vibration White Finger Compensation
During the period of negotiation between your solicitor and your employer´s insurance company it is not unusual for offers of vibration white finger compensation to be made. However, it is becoming more frequent that the insurance company will approach the claimant directly with an offer in return for early settlement. These offers are rarely prepared with any consideration of the consequences of a workplace vibration white finger injury and, should you accept such an offer inadvertently, may find that you have insufficient funds to support you until you are able to return to work.
Once an offer of workplace vibration white finger injury compensation has been accepted, you cannot go back to the insurance company and ask for more if the compensation settlement proves to be inadequate. Therefore, it is always in your best interests to refer any such offers to your solicitor. Should short-term finances be an issue – and you are tempted to accept an offer of compensation for a vibration white finger injury at work – speak with your solicitor who may be able to organise interim payments until such time as your claim is finally resolved.
How Long Do I Have to Make a Vibration White Finger Claim?
As vibration white finger injuries are gradual injuries which develop over time, and not injuries which are sustained by a single event (for example in a car crash or fall from height) the UK Statute of Limitations allows you three years from the date on which you were diagnosed with a vibration white finger injury at work in which to make a claim for compensation.
Although three years may seem to be a considerable period of time in which to make a claim for vibration white finger injury compensation, should you employer claim that you contributed to your injury by your own lack of care, or your solicitor has to wait for the prognosis of medical experts when your injury may be permanent, the time can evaporate quickly. Therefore, you are advised to seek professional legal help as soon as you have been diagnosed with a vibration white finger injury.
“No Win No Fee” Vibration White Finger Injury Claims
In claims for vibration white finger compensation where the claimant is considered to have strong case, solicitors will offer “No Win, No Fee” legal representation. “No Win, No Fee” vibration white finger injury claims are generally the most appropriate way in which to proceed with a claim for vibration white finger compensation, for if the claim is lost, you will not the solicitor any fees for the time they have spent preparing and submitting your claim. However, a “No Win, No Fee” vibration white finger claim is not necessarily free.
In the event that you lose your vibration white finger claim, you will be liable for your employer´s defence fees and any expenses that your solicitor has incurred while working on your case. Most solicitors will insist that you take out “After the Event” insurance to protect yourself against the risk of financial exposure – even if you already have legal expenses cover on an existing car or household contents insurance policy. It is recommended that, should your solicitor offer “No Win, No Fee” legal representation to you, you establish what is included in the conditional fee arrangement before agreeing to it.
Vibration White Finger Summary
If you start to experience the symptoms of a work vibration white finger injury – where the finger(s) first turns white as the damaged blood vessels narrow, then blue as oxygen is exhausted from the blood vessels and finally a deep red as the blood vessels open up again – you should seek medical attention immediately. If left to deteriorate, your industrial illness could develop into a permanent condition. Once it has been established that you have a work-related vibration white finger injury, log your injury with your employer and speak with a solicitor at the first possible opportunity.
Do not continue to work, as this may be interpreted as an indication of contributory negligence, and provide your solicitor with as much information as you can about your injury and how it was sustained. At all times treat unsolicited approaches by your employer´s insurance company with caution and ensure you understand exactly what you are undertaking when agreeing to “No Win, No Fee” legal representation. In addition to discussing your eligibility to make a claim for vibration white finger compensation with a solicitor as soon as possible, maintain a diary to record the consequences that your injury has made to your quality of life.
By following these steps, you are more likely to receive the maximum settlement of vibration white finger injury compensation in the shortest possible time.