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Sharps injury claims are increasing in frequency of reported injuries increase and the legal professions start to see these actions as profitable.
Average payouts to claimants have generally been low, around £2k – £5k, though in one exceptional case a junior doctor was awarded close to £1 million for distress and future lost earnings.
Increasing awareness of the distress and long-term anxiety that may follow a sharps injury event are pushing up the scale of claims. Some claimants have been caught out when required to subject to detailed psychiatric evaluation; there is, quite rightly, no probability for success for those who simply feign long-term psychiatric symptoms. However, those who do indeed have long term anxiety problems that may affect future employment opportunities are now able to claim a more realistic sum, supported by an increasing body of research evidence that properly characterises the psychiatric impact of sharps injury.
A current case in Australia exemplifies the situation, where a sharps injury – contested by the defendant – resulting in a claim of $387,400 AS doubled to $685,729 AS (£440,000 GBP) when new psychiatric evidence was brought before the court.
Sharps injury is a potentially devastating event, the impact of which goes far beyond minor physical injury and, hopefully, a possibly slight chance of associated infection.