Medical workers should be fully aware of the risks associated with needlestick injuries which can occur when used sharp objects such as a scalpel or syringe break the skin. However, if you have sustained a needlestick injury, whether as a medical professional or someone else, and it’s due to the negligence of another person, you may be able to file a needlestick injury claim to compensate you for any physical injuries and any psychological impact you have suffered as a result.
This guide about needlestick injury claims will show you when that might be possible and how the claims process work.
To find out more about needlestick injury compensation claims, please read on. Alternatively, you can call us right away on 0800 652 1345 if you’d like to discuss your claim today.
What’s a needlestick injury?
A needlestick injury, also known as a sharps injury or percutaneous injury, is an injury caused by accidentally puncturing the skin with a needle or other sharp object that has been used to give an injection or draw blood.
Usually, such injuries are minor but there is a serious risk of infection if the object was contaminated with a blood-borne disease such as hepatitis. While you might brush off a needlestick injury as a risk associated with your job, we believe you should consider claiming compensation for any injuries if your employer could’ve done something to prevent your suffering.
Problems caused by needlestick injuries
Many needlestick injuries cause nothing more than bleeding and bruising with some discomfort. However, many bloodborne viruses can be transmitted by sharps. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the most worrying are:
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
Other conditions such as Epstein-Barr virus and cytomegalovirus (CMV) can also be contracted by needlestick injuries.
NHS information states that Hepatitis C can survive in dried blood patches on objects for several weeks. It’s therefore important to always visit your GP for blood tests if you’ve suffered a needlestick injury.
What should I do if I’ve suffered a needlestick injury?
If you suffer a puncture wound from a used needle, the NHS suggests you should immediately:
- Hold the wound under running water to encourage it to bleed.
- Wash the wound with plenty of water and soap but do not scrub it.
- Do not suck the blood from the wound.
- Use a waterproof dressing or plaster on the wound once it has fully dried out.
The next thing to do is to book an urgent GP appointment or speak to NHS 111 as you may need medication to reduce the risk of infection. If your doctor believes there is a risk of contracting a disease, they’ll send samples of your blood away for tests.
Before the results are returned, your doctor may prescribe medications to prevent HIV, a hepatitis B vaccination or antibiotics to cure infections.
What if I’ve contracted a disease from a needle?
If you’ve contracted a disease from a needlestick injury, it is likely to have a massive impact on your life. In some cases, your health may be affected for the rest of your life and prevent you from doing many of the things you need to do or used to enjoy. This suffering is what one of our solicitors could help you claim compensation for along with any physical pain and suffering.
It is important to point out that you could be compensated for a needlestick injury even if your tests come back negative. That’s because of the anxiety and stress that you might suffer while waiting for your test results.
Who is commonly at risk of a sharps injury?
The most common scenario for sharps injuries is in medical or care settings when a syringe or scalpel breaks the skin of more than one person. However, other workers are at risk of needlestick injuries on a daily basis including:
- Police officers.
- Council workers.
- Prison officers.
- Refuse collectors.
- Dentists and staff.
- Social workers.
Away from needlestick punctures caused by medical equipment, other industries face similar risks where contaminated equipment with sharp edges can pierce the skin.
To find out if you have a valid needlestick injury claim, please speak to our team today.
Can I claim compensation for a needlestick injury?
If you believe that someone else’s negligence caused you to suffer a needlestick injury, it will be necessary to determine whether or not your injury was a result of their negligence. As such, a solicitor would assess whether:
- Your employer’s negligence meant they breached their duty of care towards your safety; and
- That negligence caused an incident where you suffered a needlestick injury; and
- You suffered physically or mentally (or both) because of your injury.
Duty of care at work can be established by laws such as the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 or the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 amongst others. You needn’t be too concerned by this if you do decide to claim as your solicitor will verify this as part of your initial consultation.
If you’d like us to assess whether you could be compensated for a needlestick injury, please call 0800 652 1345 today.
Negligence leading to needlestick injury compensation
As described above, you must prove that the defendant in your claim (usually your employer) caused your needlestick injury through negligence. This can mean something they did to cause your accident or something they failed to do to prevent it.
As such, compensation for needlestick injuries may be possible if your accident was caused by:
- Insufficient training on the use of needles, syringes or other sharp objects.
- Insufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as safety gloves.
- Being told to work on your own with a patient who was known to be aggressive.
- A lack of sharps bins in clinical areas.
- Insufficient safety procedures on the disposal of sharps.
- Overflowing sharps bins because they weren’t emptied regularly.
- Failure to consider vaccinations for tetanus or hepatitis B for particularly risky roles.
If you’ve suffered a needlestick injury at work because of your employer’s negligence, you are well within your rights to seek legal advice about your options. Importantly, your employer cannot take action against you for making an honest claim. Therefore, you cannot be fired, demoted, disciplined or blocked from promotion as a consequence of a personal injury claim.
How much needlestick injury compensation can I claim?
As we’ve alluded to, a needlestick injury can result in diseases that could affect you for the rest of your life. Thus, any compensation should consider the suffering you’ve already dealt with plus any that will continue into the future. General damages can be sought to cover any physical and/ or psychiatric injury while special damages could compensate you for any financial impact.
That means that if your claim for a needlestick injury is won, the settlement could account for:
- Your physical pain and suffering.
- Stress, fear, depression and other forms of mental harm.
- Medical expenses.
- Loss of amenity – to cover any loss of enjoyment of your normal hobbies and activities.
- The cost of a carer if somebody is needed to support you while you’re ill.
- The cost of buying personal items like clothing to replace those damaged during the accident.
- Travel costs.
- Loss of earnings and future losses if your injuries mean you can’t work for any period of time.
- Home adaptations and vehicle modifications to better improve quality of life if you’re left with a life-changing condition.
As you can’t ask for more compensation once the claim’s been settled successfully, it’s important to include all aspects of suffering in your claim. If you work with one of our solicitors, they’ll try to ensure everything is included so you receive the maximum needlestick injury compensation possible.
How does a solicitor place a value on my pain and suffering?
So that your solicitor is able to properly calculate your level of pain and suffering for your needlestick injury claim, your injuries may be reviewed by an independent medical expert. This isn’t anything to worry about though. Your solicitor will book an appointment on your behalf (usually locally) where a specialist will review your medical records and discuss your injuries with you.
After they’ve examined you, the specialist will write a report to set out your prognosis. This will help your solicitor to calculate how much compensation for a needlestick injury you could be entitled to.
Providing proof for a needlestick injury claim
When you seek damages for a needlestick injury, you’ll need to demonstrate why your employer was to blame for the accident, the injuries you’ve sustained and how they have affected you.
The types of proof that can help do this include:
- Accident report forms. If you suffer a needlestick injury at work, you should report it to your manager. Legally, you’ll have access to the accident report form they create and this can help to prove when and where you were injured.
- Medical records. As discussed already, needlestick injuries should always be assessed by a medical professional. If needed, any medical notes and test results could be obtained to prove the impact on your health.
- Witness statements. If anybody else saw you suffer the needlestick injury, they might be asked to provide a statement of what they saw.
- Photographic proof. You should take pictures of any visible injuries throughout your recovery. Additionally, pictures of the accident scene (before it is cleared up) could help you to demonstrate what happened.
- Security camera footage. If your accident happened in view of a CCTV camera, you’re entitled to ask for a copy of the relevant footage if it is still available.
In addition to the above, you should write down as much as you can remember about the incident as soon as possible. Also, keep track of any expenses you’ve paid out that were related to your injuries. This will make it easier for you to recall the impact of the needlestick injury when you speak to your solicitor.
Needlestick injury claim time limits
There is a 3-year time limit for needlestick injury claims. This limitation period will normally start from the date you were injured or the date you received your blood test results back.
In cases where children have been injured by a needle or sharp, the 3-year period starts when they turn 18 years old. However, a process exists to enable an approved litigation friend (see here) to file a claim on the child’s behalf before their 18th birthday.
The same process can be used if the injured individual is an adult but isn’t physically or mentally capable of dealing with a claim for themself.
As there is a fair bit to do before your claim is filed (collecting proof, arranging medical assessments etc), it’s a good idea to seek legal advice as soon as possible rather than trying to rush the needlestick injury claims process.
When could I expect to see an outcome?
If your employer accepts liability early on and you’ve already recovered, you could be compensated in around 6 months or so.
If you’ve been diagnosed with an illness as a result of the needlestick injury, claims may take longer if your prognosis isn’t fully understood yet. In these cases, interim payments may be possible before the claim is settled to help you with any financial issues caused by your injuries.
No Win, No Fee claims
The stress of dealing with a needlestick injury is more than enough to deal with. So, to reduce the stress levels and financial risks associated with hiring a solicitor, those on our panel will provide a No Win, No Fee service.
Without any upfront payment of legal fees, your solicitor will manage all aspects of the claims process for you. As a result, you won’t need to talk to your employer about the claim directly and you won’t face any complex medical or legal questions.
If your needlestick injury claim is won, your solicitor will deduct a success fee from your settlement to cover their costs. This fee is capped at no more than 25% and will be clearly listed in your contract. If the claim fails, you won’t be asked to pay any legal fees whatsoever.
Start a needlestick injury claim today
Please call our team on 0800 652 1345 if you believe that you should be compensated for a needlestick injury. Whatever happens, you’ll receive free advice during your no-obligation initial consultation. If a solicitor from our panel represents you, they’ll manage the claim on a No Win, No Fee basis so you won’t need to pay them unless you receive a compensation payout.
For any immediate questions you might have on needlestick injury claims, you can arrange a consultation here or ask an advisor through the live chat service.