Finger injuries can be due to many different types of accidents, including road traffic accidents, slips, trips and falls, accidents at work and sporting activities. Although they may seem relatively minor, finger injuries can prevent you from carrying out daily activities and may cause lifelong problems.
The most common finger injuries include cuts, bruises and lacerations, but more severe trauma may lead to fractures, ligament damage and amputations. Some painful and debilitating conditions, such as vibration white finger, develop over time due to repetitive tasks and exposure to vibrating machinery.
If you injured your fingers in an accident due to somebody else’s negligence, you might be able to make a finger injury claim. If your case has merit, your personal injury lawyer will offer you a no win no fee agreement so that you will incur no out-of-pocket expenses if your claim fails.
Do I have a valid finger injury claim?
To claim compensation, you must show that another person or entity was at least partially responsible for your injury. Your solicitor will check four main criteria before accepting your finger injury claim:
- The party you hold liable owed you a duty of care
- They breached their duty by acting negligently
- Their negligence led to an accident that caused your finger injury
- The accident happened within the time limit to make a claim, which is usually three years
You do not have to worry about proving a duty of care. Local councils, employers, business owners and many other individuals have a responsibility to act in a way that does not endanger your health and well-being. The duty of care is set out by relevant legislation, such as:
- The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974
- The Occupiers Liability Act 1984
- The Consumer Protection Act 1987
- The Highways Act 1980
If you were partially responsible for your accident, you might still be eligible for finger injury compensation. As long as you hold less than 50% of the blame, you could receive a reduced settlement to reflect your part of the blame.
Your finger injury claim is unlikely to be successful if you do not have evidence to show how the accident happened and that your injuries were caused by it. There are several steps you can take to build a strong case and secure compensation, such as:
- Seek medical care as soon as possible after your accident. Your medical records will show the extent of your finger injury, what treatments you received and your prognosis;
- Get the names and contact details of any witnesses to your accident. Your solicitor might contact them later for a statement about how the events unfolded;
- Take photographs or a video of the cause of your damaged finger before the accident scene is cleared;
- Take pictures of any visible injuries and keep a photographic record of your recovery process;
- If your accident was caught on CCTV or a dash cam, try to obtain a copy of the footage straightway;
- If you were injured at work or in a public place, file an accident report. Most businesses must keep an accident log book, and a signed copy of your entry will prove when and where you hurt your finger;
- Your notes about how the accident occurred and how it affected your daily life;
- If you make a finger injury claim for an accident at work, you may need to provide documents relating to health and safety training or the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE);
- Keep evidence of any losses and expenses incurred due to your finger injury.
After your solicitor has gathered all the necessary evidence, they will contact the other side and inform them of your intentions to claim finger injury compensation. If they admit liability, your solicitor will start to negotiate a settlement.
If the defendant denies responsibility for your accident, your solicitor may have to issue court proceedings. More than 95% of all claims conclude without a trial, so it is unlikely you will have to argue your claim before a judge.
What are the most common finger injuries?
Each hand has five fingers, made of three bones called the distal, middle and proximal phalanges. The thumb has only two phalanges, the proximal and distal. The phalanges are connected by interphalangeal joints that make movements like flexion and extension possible.
There are no muscles in the fingers; the flexor and extensor muscles that move them are located in the palm and forearm and connected by long tendons to the fingers. The fingers have many nerve endings, which makes them extremely sensitive to temperature, pressure, vibration and texture.
An injury to any of these structures can cause pain and discomfort and may entitle you to claim compensation. The most common causes leading to a finger injury claim include:
- Cuts and lacerations
These may seem like minor injuries, but even a simple laceration can sometimes impact the nerves, tendons and blood vessels and have a long-lasting impact on your life. Furthermore, even a small cut can lead to severe infections and sepsis if not treated properly. Severe cuts and lacerations may need stitching and leave permanent scars.
The fingers are some of the most affected body parts by burns, scalds and frostbite. Burn injuries may be due to fire, hot liquids, electric shocks or hazardous substances and range in severity from superficial wounds to severe damage that requires amputation. If you had an accident due to someone else’s negligence, you might be entitled to make a finger injury claim.
- Finger fractures
Finger fractures often occur because of crush injuries, where the finger is caught between two objects. They may also be due to falling on an outstretched hand, machinery accidents or sporting activities. Treatment varies based on the severity and location of the fracture and may range from immobilisation in a cast or splint to surgery.
- Puncture wounds
Dog bites are relatively common injuries, and the most bitten body parts are the hands and fingers. The puncture wound caused by a dog bite can lead to infections, and you may also need a tetanus shot. It may also cause nerve and tendon damage and lead to long-term disability. If you were attacked by a dog through no fault of your own, you might be able to claim finger injury compensation.
- Finger sprains
Finger sprains are common injuries that occur when you stretch or tear a ligament, most commonly due to a fall. Symptoms include acute pain, swelling, stiffness and tenderness. A mild sprain can often be treated at home, but a severely torn ligament may require surgery and take at least six weeks to heal.
- Finger dislocations
Finger dislocations occur when the phalanges are no longer together and are out of alignment with the joint. Symptoms include pain, inability to move the finger, swelling, bruising and deformity. Many dislocations are due to sports injuries, falls or blows to the finger. If another person was responsible for your accident, you might be able to make a finger injury claim.
- Vibration white finger (VWF)
Vibration white finger is an industrial injury triggered by extensive use of vibrating hand-held machinery. This can affect the nerves, joints, connective tissue and blood vessels of the fingers, causing numbness or tingling. As the condition progresses, it may cause whitening of the affected fingers and loss of grip strength.
There is currently no cure for vibration white finger, but it can be prevented by following good work practices and using adequate PPE. If you developed VWF because your employer failed to follow the health and safety guidelines, you might be entitled to make a vibration white finger claim.
- Repetitive strain injuries (RSI)
Finger RSI is caused by the overuse or improper use of the muscles and tendons in the hand and fingers. Computer users, cooks, cleaners, musicians and construction workers are some of the occupations at increased risk for RSI.
Finger RSI may lead to trigger finger, a condition that causes your fingers to get stuck in a bent position. Symptoms include shooting pain, stiffness, swelling and tenderness around the joints. There are various treatments for RSI, such as splints, anti-inflammatory medication and steroid injections.
- Finger amputations
Finger amputations are severe injuries that may significantly affect your ability to perform daily activities such as driving, cooking or working. Many accidents may lead to the amputation of one or more fingers, including road traffic accidents, severe burns and machinery accidents. If another person was responsible for your trauma by acting negligently, you might be able to claim finger injury compensation.
What accidents are most likely to cause a finger injury?
Finger injuries range from minor cuts and lacerations to severe fractures and amputations. Even a mild injury can affect your ability to perform daily activities and may result in pain, suffering and financial losses. If another person was responsible for your harm, you might be able to claim compensation.
The most common accidents leading to a finger injury claim include:
Numerous hazards in the workplace can lead to a finger injury, including machinery accidents, electric shocks, dangerous substances and forklift trucks. Injuries may range from cuts and burns to severe crush trauma and amputations. You may also develop repetitive strain injuries due to overuse and lack of suitable PPE. If your employer failed to comply with the health and safety legislation, causing your accident, you might be entitled to claim finger injury compensation.
Falling on your hand after a slip or trip can cause several finger injuries such as a sprain, fracture or dislocation. Common causes for slip and trip accidents include uneven pavements and poor housekeeping. Employers, local councils and private business owners have a duty to take all reasonable measures to keep public premises well-maintained and safe for visitors. Failing to do so would make them liable in a finger injury claim.
When you are involved in a road traffic accident, the first instinct is to raise your hands and put them in front of you to protect yourself. This can result in broken fingers, ligament tears or lacerations from broken glass or other flying debris. Severe accidents may result in critical crush injuries and even traumatic finger amputations.
- School and playground accidents
Children are prone to accidents and need constant supervision at school and play areas. Besides acute pain, finger injuries in children may lead to inability to play or engage in school activities, scarring, deformity and permanent disability. If your child had an accident due to lack of supervision, faulty equipment or poor maintenance, you might be able to make a finger injury claim.
If you suffered a finger injury due to a faulty product, you are entitled to claim compensation under the Consumer Protection Act 1987 (CPA). This includes cosmetic and beauty products, electrical equipment, furniture, children’s toys and gym equipment. You do not have to prove negligence to bring a claim under the CPA. You only have to show that the defendant’s product was defective and it caused you a finger injury.
There is always some risk of finger injuries while playing almost any sport. Acute trauma may cause fractures, torn ligaments and dislocations, while repetitive tasks and overuse may lead to skier’s thumb and other strain injuries. If you had an accident due to poor training, faulty equipment or dangerous ground conditions, you could claim finger injury compensation.
Delayed or incorrect treatment of infections or diabetes may lead to preventable finger amputations. Failure to diagnose and properly manage a finger fracture may also lead to prolonged ad unnecessary pain and suffering, deformity and permanent mobility issues. If a medical professional has failed to provide a reasonable standard of care, you might be able to make a medical negligence claim.
How you hurt your finger has no bearing on the compensation award for your pain and suffering. The settlement will only depend on the severity of your injury and its effect on your life, both during recovery and in the future.
Can I claim for a finger injury at work?
Workplace accidents are the most common reason for making a finger injury claim. The most common causes of finger injuries at work include:
- Machinery accidents can cause finger injuries like minor cuts and bruises or severe crushes and traumatic amputations. All workplace machinery must be safe, in good working order and operated by adequately trained staff.
- Hazardous substances such as ammonia, sulphuric acid, chlorine and mercury can cause severe chemical burn injuries that may lead to finger amputations. When working with dangerous substances, it is imperative to receive proper training and personal protective equipment.
- Manual handling often involves repetitive tasks such as carrying, lifting, using and pulling heavy loads and objects. Without good technique and adequate breaks, you may develop repetitive strain injuries such as tendinitis and trigger finger. These can be painful and limit your ability to perform daily tasks.
- Vibrating machinery such as hand drills, hammers, concrete breakers and chainsaws can damage the blood vessels and other structures like the nerves and bones in the fingers. Overexposure to such tools may cause permanent symptoms that affect your ability to work or perform simple daily tasks such as buttoning a shirt.
- Forklift trucks are the most dangerous form of workplace transport in the UK. Most accidents are due to vehicles tipping over, which may cause your fingers to be crushed between the forklift truck and another surface.
- Slips, trips and falls are the leading cause of non-fatal workplace injuries according to the HSE. Most falls are highly preventable and are caused by wet floors, unexpected obstacles left in walkways and uneven floors. Falling on your hand may lead to finger sprains, fractures, cuts and lacerations.
Under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, your employer must take all reasonable measures to protect your health and safety and minimise the risk of injury in the workplace. According to the Act, your employer may be liable to pay you finger injury compensation if they fail to provide:
- Regular risk assessments to identify risks of finger injuries
- Health and safety policies to eliminate or reduce risks
- Information to employees about good work practices to avoid injuries
- Adequate training for staff and suitable supervision
- Proper facilities for staff welfare
- A safe working environment that is adequately maintained
- Consultation with employees on health and safety practices
- Safe equipment and machinery to perform the work
- Suitable and free of charge personal protective equipment (PPE)
If your employer failed to comply with the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and other relevant legislation, you might be entitled to make a finger injury claim.
How much compensation can I claim for a finger injury?
The amount of finger injury compensation you might be entitled to receive depends to a great extent on the severity of your injury, how it affected your life and the financial losses and expenses it caused you. Your solicitor will consider all of your damages to calculate a suitable settlement.
The compensation award in a finger injury claim will cover:
Special damages awarded for economic losses, such as:
- Lost wages and loss of earning capacity
- Cost of past and future medical treatments
- Rehabilitation and physical therapy
- Cost of hiring assistance with household tasks
- Transportation costs to and from ongoing medical visits
- Home and vehicle adaptations
- Cost of prostheses
General damages cover the physical injury and the way it affected your life and include:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Physical disability and impairment
- Mental anguish and emotional trauma
- Lowered quality of life
- Loss of amenities, such as the ability to pursue a hobby
- Loss of a unique career
Special damages are out-of-pocket expenses that can be determined by adding up all of your quantifiable financial losses. Due to their subjective nature, it is not so easy to calculate a fair compensation award for general damages.
The Judicial College sets out compensation guidelines for different types of injuries, depending on severity. These guidelines are used by solicitors, courts and insurance companies when determining how much compensation a person should be awarded. According to them, you could receive:
- Up to £3,790 for minor injuries with complete recovery, such as simple finger fractures
- £3,150 to £4,670 for amputation or loss of a part of the little finger
- £8,640 to £12,240 for amputation of the little finger
- £3,150 to £6,260 for loss of terminal phalange of the ring finger
- £10,320 to £16,340 for severe damage to either ring or middle fingers
- £9,110 to £12, 240 for a severe injury to the index finger where grip or dexterity is permanently impaired
- Around £18,740 for the total loss of the index finger
- Around £21,810 for amputation of ring and little fingers
- Up to £3,150 for minor thumb injuries
- £3,150 to £5,410 for severe thumb dislocations
- Up to £36,740 for severe finger fractures permanently impacting dexterity and grip
- £28,310 to £43,710 for amputation or loss of the thumb
- £49,350 to £72,330 for amputation of several fingers
- £96, 160 to £109,650 for amputation or loss of all fingers
How long do I have to make a claim?
In the UK, the time limit to make a finger injury claim is usually three years after an accident. For injuries that develop over time, such as vibration white finger or repetitive strain injuries, you can bring a claim within three years from the date of knowledge.
This refers to the date on which you knew or were reasonably expected to know that you have grounds to take legal action, depending on:
- The timeline and severity of your symptoms
- Your circumstances and how these may have caused a delay
- Whether you have sought a second medical opinion after your initial diagnosis
There are a few exceptions to the three-year time limit to claim compensation, including:
- If the victim is a child, the time limit does not run until they reach 18 years of age, so a suitable adult acting as a litigation friend can claim finger injury compensation for them at any time. After becoming a legal adult, the victim has until their 21st birthday to start their own legal proceedings if a claim has not already been made on their behalf.
- If the victim lacks the mental capacity to handle their case, there is no time limit for a litigation friend to claim on their behalf. Under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, you could make a finger injury claim on behalf of an adult who suffers from:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder or severe sleep deprivation
- An intellectual disability such as autism
- A neurodegenerative condition like dementia
- A mental health disorder such as schizophrenia
- A stroke or severe brain injury
- You have two years to claim criminal injury compensation through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority if you were hurt because of a violent crime.
- If you suffered a finger injury while serving in the military, you could claim compensation through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme within seven years of your accident.
- If you suffered an injury abroad, you could still be entitled to compensation, but the time limit to claim may vary considerably from country to country.
Regardless of how long you might have to start a finger injury claim, it is always better to seek legal advice as early as possible. This will make it easier to collect evidence, speak to witnesses and build a strong claim to secure finger injury compensation.
How much will it cost to make a finger injury claim?
If you have a valid finger injury claim with a fair chance of success, your solicitor will offer you a no win no fee agreement. This means that it will not cost you anything to hire legal representation and pursue compensation.
By signing a conditional fee agreement, you will receive free support and advice from your solicitor throughout the claiming process. They will take care of all the paperwork and will negotiate on your behalf so you can focus on your recovery. Furthermore, if your case fails, you do not have to pay them anything.
As part of your no win no fee claim, your solicitor will take out After the Event (ATE) insurance on your behalf. If you lose the claim, the ATE policy provides full coverage for legal charges and disbursements incurred during litigation, including:
- The other side’s solicitor fees
- Court and counsel fees
- Travel expenses
- Costs of printing and copying
- Police and medical reports
- Barrister fees if the case goes to court
No win no fee is the preferred way of funding a personal injury claim because the claimant will not incur any out-of-pocket expenses if the case is unsuccessful. You only have to pay anything if you receive compensation for your finger injury, and your deductions include:
- The cost of the ATE insurance policy;
- A success fee that is paid to your solicitor for the risk they took by offering you a no win o fee agreement. The success fee will be thoroughly discussed before taking on your claim, and it cannot exceed 25% of your compensation for general damages and past financial losses.