You could be forgiven for not knowing what the terms 'needlestick compensation' or 'needlestick injury claims', mean. Our guide, in the form of commonly asked questions together with our own answers, will not only help you to understand more about this type of personal injury claim but more importantly will provide useful information should you or a member of your family have the misfortune to suffer a needlestick injury. This will include information about how to go about making a needle stick claim.
Spencers personal injury solicitors have obtained compensation for many victims of needlestick injury.
A needlestick injury is caused when a sharp medical instrument usually incorporating a needle, punctures the skin, by accident. The initial injury is likely to be a stab wound. However, the main risk of needle-sharp injuries is due to the possibility of being infected by exposure to someone else's blood or bodily fluids that may have been left on the needle.
Claims for needlestick injury compensation aren't just limited to a claim for the physical injury. They often include claims for the very real psychological problems that these types of injury can cause. Waiting to find out the results of tests for some very serious illnesses or diseases that might have been caused by the skin being punctured by a possibly infected needle, can cause a huge degree of psychological trauma.
Sometimes you may hear of needlestick injuries being referred to as 'sharps injuries' or 'injuries caused by sharps'; a medical term for devices with sharp points or edges, that can cut or puncture the skin.
Those workers who work with syringes and other medical sharps are the most obvious and likely to be at risk of having needlestick accidents, with medical professionals being at high risk of such injuries. These and other at-risk occupations include:
Sometimes medical negligence can result in needlestick injuries to NHS patients. If guidelines and procedures are not correctly followed, for example, during the administration of medicine by use of hypodermic needles, needle stick injuries can and do occur.
However, there are others who can be equally at risk of injury from needle sticks and who are not directly involved in health care. Cleaners and refuse collectors can all too frequently encounter syringes that have been, often carelessly, discarded. The risk of infection from needles discarded by intravenous drug users is a severe problem for those employed in refuse disposal. Prison Officers are an oft-forgotten at-risk group, for this same reason.
Whilst the puncture wound from a needle or other sharp accidentally penetrating the skin can itself cause distress, it is the risk of being infected by something much more serious as a result of infected blood from a used needle being transferred into the needlestick injury victim, that gives needlestick injury victims the most cause for concern, such as:
Tetanus is another illness that can result from being injured in a needle stick accident. This is most likely to be caused by a rusty needle.
Healthcare workers should receive regular vaccinations against Hepatitis and Tetanus.
Psychological trauma can result from needlestick injuries. This is caused by the fear of contracting one of the blood borne viruses such as Hepatitis or HIV from a needlestick injury. Because it can take between 6 to 9 months on average from being tested for an illness, to receiving the results of those tests, the needlestick injury victim, during that period, is likely to suffer the trauma of not knowing whether they will be diagnosed with one of the illnesses.
A study in 2013 found that:
Needlestick injury at work claim are not uncommon. Injuries caused by sharp objects such as broken glass, metal shards and splintered wood can occur in a variety of different jobs. Employees that regularly handle sharp objects such as broken glass as part of their role should be supplied with the correct safety equipment by their employers, such as reinforced gloves and tongs. Employees should never be required to move sharp objects with bare hands.
Being accidentally pierced by a sharp object can, unfortunately, occur in a variety of public places like toilets, parks and communal stairways if they are not correctly maintained.
If sharp items such as used needles or broken glass are found in a public place, do not attempt to dispose of them yourself. Contact your local council to have these items disposed of safely and securely.
If you or your child is pricked by a discarded needle or other sharp object in a public place, seek immediate medical attention at the nearest A&E department. Further information can be found on the NHS Choices website.
While the risks cannot be eliminated, they can be reduced significantly by following a few simple steps:
With any injury claim it can be hard to put an exact figure on how much your needle stick claim is worth. The term 'no two injuries are the same' applies to needlestick injuries even more than it does with many other types of personal injury claim. There is not only the physical injury to consider, but also the element of psychological trauma to consider when assessing levels of compensation.
As with almost all types of personal injury compensation claim, negligence claims for needlestick injury compensation, need to be started within 3 years of the needlestick injury happening. The sooner you bring a claim, the better. If you are suffering from anxiety as a result of having been injured by a needlestick, by starting your claim as early as possible, we will be able to arrange for you to be examined by a specialist in psychiatric illnesses.
We are a law firm with many years' experience of dealing with needlestick injury claims. In one such case, one of our clients was a cleaner in a hospital. During the course of their employment, they were emptying a general rubbish bin in a treatment room, when a needle from a syringe protruded through the rubbish bag and punctured their leg. Liability was admitted by the hospital (as needles shouldn't be put in general waste) and our client recovered £2,000 in damages in respects of the incident.
In most cases, yes, we will be able to pursue your claim for you by using a conditional fee Arrangement (this is commonly known as 'No Win, No Fee'). It means that if we agree to take your claim on and it is unsuccessful then you will have no legal fees to pay. If you win, then we will charge you what is known as a Success Fee, meaning that a deduction of a percentage of your compensation will be made to go towards our legal fees. This percentage varies, but in any event will not exceed 25% of your compensation for injury, pain and suffering (general damages).
At Spencers Solicitors, we provide every client with a very personal service. Your claim is important to us and we will always strive you to get you the best settlement possible and to ensure that along the way, all your needs are met.
If you have been injured by a needle or other type of sharp due to the negligent action of another person, whether it be due to clinical negligence, an accident at work or an accident in a public place and would like to find out more about making a compensation claim, please get in touch with us today.
You can complete our simple online claim enquiry form and one of our specialist needle stick injury lawyers will contact you when convenient. Alternatively, you can call us direct on 08000 93 00 94. We're keen to help you make a successful needle stick injury compensation claim on a no win no fee basis, and firmly believe that talking to us will be the first step in securing the compensation you deserve.