Needlestick Injury Claims
Not knowing if you have contracted a potentially fatal disease from a needlestick injury can be extremely traumatic for the victim. We frequently help those who through no fault of their own, have received a needle stick injury and then have the agony of waiting several months for all of the test results to come through. If it is any consolation to you, we have never had a client go on to contract a disease as a result of a needle stick injury. When we claim compensation for you, we claim for the anxiety and distress you suffer during the “not knowing” period and the fact that you will most likely have to undergo a series of blood tests before you are hopefully given the all clear.
What we need to prove:
1. You were acting in the course of your employment or in a reasonable fashion (i.e. you did not deliberately stick your hand into a needle bin!) and
2. The needle pierced your skin.
For a claim to succeed, we do not have to prove that you have contracted a disease as a result of the injury.
The court will take into account a number of factors when deciding on the level of compensation that should be awarded. They recognise the anguish that needlestick injury claimants suffer from during the “limbo” period when a victim does not know if they have contracted a disease or not.
So as to further explain how the courts consider needle stick injury cases we have summarised details of a claim brought against GREATER MANCHESTER AMBULANCE SERVICE NHS TRUST in 2004 which involved a claimant, a 32-year-old woman, who received £6,000 for the psychological stress of a possible HIV infection following a needle injury sustained at work in 2000. The victim suffered fairly severe psychological trauma as the needle that pierced her skin was from an HIV positive patient.
She went on to sustain post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and nausea and underwent a six-month period of AIDS testing. Her psychological injuries were expected to resolve within 15 months of the accident.
The claimant was an ambulance worker and had been taking blood from a collapsed patient at his home when she scratched her left index finger whilst using a click pen that was defective. It was later confirmed that the patient was HIV positive and the claimant was told that there was a one in three hundred chance of developing AIDS.
The claimant brought an action against the defendant alleging that it was negligent in its health and safety duties towards its employees by providing defective equipment, which caused the accident.
As with all needle injury victims, this lady was forced to live with the uncertainty of not knowing whether she was HIV positive for six months whilst tests were being carried out. She also underwent triple therapy and was given 18 tablets a day to take for a month. She reported to the court that she felt nauseous and was admitted to hospital due to the side-effects of the medication, which included occasional vomiting.
The claimant was unable to work for three weeks and was given advice regarding bodily fluids and could not kiss her partner or two small children. She slept badly, constantly felt tense and developed post-traumatic stress disorder and depression for which she took antidepressants.
At the six-month stage, the claimant had the final AIDS test and was told it was negative.
The JS Miller team have represented nurses, doctors, and cleaners for this type of personal injury claim. If you are a member of the medical profession, you may well have the option to instruct a union appointed lawyer to pursue your claim. However, please note that we often take over claims from union lawyers due to the fact that many victims of needle stick injuries want to have the comfort, reassurance and tailored service our team provides. We strongly believe that the fact that we are a small boutique law firm results in our clients receiving better results, a higher level of compensation and an overall superior service.