Workplace Hand Injuries: The Role Of A Plastic Surgeon Expert Witness

How Plastic Surgeon Expert Witnesses Can Play Their Part

The human hand is unique in its ability to grip as well as manipulate itself to pick up small objects sets our bodies apart from other animals. Lashed together with tendons, nerves, and bones, the hand is a complex structure, which means that if it is damaged, it can be difficult to make a prognosis as to the long term affect of the injury.

This is especially true of workplace hand injuries that occur through contact with machinery, severe burns, or objects falling on the hand and crushing it. In these types of cases, a Plastic Surgeon Expert Witness can provide evidence for the Claimant or Defendant to assist the Court with determining liability and quantum.

The Prevalence of Hand Injuries in the Workplace

Hand injuries are among the most frequent types of workplace accidents in England, often resulting from machinery-related incidents. These accidents can occur in various industrial settings, including manufacturing plants, construction sites, and even office environments with equipment like paper shredders and printers. Injuries range from minor cuts and bruises to severe damage, such as crushed fingers or hand amputations.

What are the main causes of workplace hand injuries?

Expert evidence can provide clarity as to whether workplace negligence, practices and/or health and safety breaches caused injury to the Claimant’s hand. Some of the most common causes of hand injuries at work include:

  • Inadequate training of workers in the safe operation of machinery. Many accidents happen because workers are not properly instructed on how to use equipment safely or lack adequate supervision.
  • Machinery malfunctions due to lack of maintenance or faulty parts, leading to unexpected injuries when the equipment suddenly starts or stops working.
  • Lack of appropriate safety features, like guards or emergency stop buttons, or incorrect fitting or use of such features.
  • Failure to perform regular maintenance on machinery resulting in risky conditions that increase the risk of accidents.
  • Workers bypassing safety protocols or removing safety guards to increase productivity, putting themselves and others at greater risk.
  • Unsafe storage of equipment, leading to items falling or slipping and subsequently crushing the hand or fingers. 
Workplace Hand Injuries: The Role of A Plastic Surgeon Expert Witness

What types of hand injuries require plastic surgery?

Hand injuries can range from minor cuts and abrasions to severe trauma, including fractures, nerve damage, and tissue loss. Plastic surgery is often necessary in cases involving:

  • Deep cuts or lacerations which affect multiple layers of tissue.
  • Crush injuries resulting in significant tissue damage, fractures, or amputations. Plastic surgeons work alongside orthopaedic and hand specialists to rebuild damaged structures, including bones, tendons, and blood vessels.
  • Thermal or chemical burns to the hand resulting in extensive tissue damage. Skin grafts and tissue flaps are used to cover and heal burn wounds, improving both function and appearance.
  • Damage to nerves and tendons resulting in loss of sensation and impaired hand function. Microsurgery techniques allow plastic surgeons to repair and reconnect these delicate structures, restoring function.

The above illustrates the extensive technical knowledge required by plastic surgeons who specialise in hand injuries. When called upon as expert witnesses, this expertise is communicated to the Court, providing it with a depth of information it could not receive through any other means.

Consequences of hand injuries

Hand injuries can have profound and lasting consequences on the Claimant and their families. Claimants often experience intense pain and may require extensive medical treatment, rehabilitation, and surgery. In severe cases, they may face permanent disability. In addition, the psychological toll of a hand injury can also be significant, leading to anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in some cases.

Alongside the physical and psychological challenges, a workplace hand injury can bring, Claimants often suffer severe financial strain when trying to cope with the burden of medical bills, lost wages, and if the injury is serious/catastrophic, loss of career and pension. A Plastic Surgeon Expert Witness can assist the Court with working out quantum by providing a prognosis and an opinion on whether the Claimant will be able to work at a pre-accident level in the future.

What is the role of a Plastic Surgeon Expert Witness in a workplace hand injury claim?

Expert evidence plays a crucial role for both parties in establishing (or defending) liability and assessing damages. Plastic Surgeon Expert Witnesses help the Court understand complex medical and technical aspects of the case. 

In hand injury cases, an expert witness can review the Claimant’s medical records and images of the hand to give an opinion on the extent of physical injuries, required treatments, surgeries, and expected outcomes. If the expert is providing evidence on behalf of the defence, they can also examine the process and procedures used in the treatment as a means of establishing that the grounds for negligence, i.e., a duty of care was owed, the duty was breached, and the breach resulted in the injury, has not been proven on the balance of probabilities.

How Expert Court Reports can help

We have two highly experienced Plastic Surgeon Expert Witnesses who can provide evidence in personal injury and medical negligence cases involving hand injuries.

If you want to learn more about how our Plastic Surgeon Expert Witnesses can assist you, please call us on 01865 587865, email office@expertcourtreports.co.uk, or request a call by completing our online form.