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Record damages pay for state-of-the-art prosthetic arm after amputation at work

Our client, L, underwent an emergency amputation after an accident at work, but because he was employed through a recruitment agency, his workplace denied liability. After six years of difficult legal proceedings alongside his solicitor, James Gratton, L eventually reached a settlement of £8.5 million, a record amount for this type of injury. This included provisions for home and vehicle adaptations and a state-of-the-art prosthetic LUKE arm, all of which will enable L to adjust and live a comfortable life following his injury.

In late 2013, L secured his first job via a recruitment agency, working a zero-hours contract as a waste processing operative at waste-processing facility Spotmix in north Liverpool. In March 2014, L was cleaning the outside housing of a conveyor belt, unsupervised atop a ladder, wearing safety gloves. His employer had negligently provided gloves that were too large and the gloves became ensnared in an unguarded nipping point of the conveyor, trapping L’s arm inside the machine.

L was not able to be freed from the conveyor and was still trapped after three hours, when the attending orthopaedic surgeon was forced to amputate L’s arm to prevent him from going into shock and he was airlifted to hospital. When they recovered the arm, doctors found it had been too severely damaged by the machine to be reattached.

Following a family member’s advice, L brought his case to solicitor James Gratton. In 2015, James and L issued court proceedings against the owners of Spotmix. Spotmix’s owners denied liability, making the incredible assertion that L had tried to clean the conveyor belt housing of his own volition, without instruction, having first removed a guard from the machine with tools he had hidden about his person.

Shortly thereafter, Spotmix entered liquidation and its insurers, Gable Insurance AG, tried to avoid their policy. In 2015, both Gable Insurance AG and SDC (a payroll company that acted as the claimant’s umbrella employer) were joined to the claimant as second and third defendants, respectively.

The claim went to trial in September of 2016, and after three days of evidence, a judgement was handed down in L’s favour. James was able to secure several interim payments, totalling £1.645 million, which allowed L to buy a car that was fitted with one-armed controls and a bungalow, which was remodelled to meet his needs, installing an adapted kitchen and bathroom that was safe to operate with one arm. He also funded trips to London and the USA to discuss state-of-the-art prosthetics with some of the world’s leading experts.

In 2018, L was supplied with a state-of-the-art LUKE arm, which was custom made for his needs following a fitting and training period in the USA. Because such devices must be made to order, and need to be replaced over time, the defendants agreed to fund one replacement device every three years until L is 75, ensuring that he will continue to benefit from the prosthetic for the rest of his life.

Ultimately, the case was settled for a record £8.5 million, accounting for replacement prosthetics and the lifestyle adjustments our client had to make. L was very happy with the outcome.

If you have sustained an injury after an accident at work, you may be entitled to compensation. Call Potter Rees Dolan on 0800 027 2557 to discuss your case and see how we can help.

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