A fishing enthusiast from West Sussex who lost a finger in a workplace accident has received £190,000 in compensation to help fund a prosthesis that has “opened up a whole new world”, thanks to the joint work of Thompsons Solicitors and Pace Rehabilitation.

Unite member Paul Branch, 61, from Crawley, had to have his left index finger amputated after it was caught in a band saw at work in October 2018.

Mr Branch, who was working for Crawley Metal Supplies, also suffered nerve damage to his middle finger on the same hand.
As a result of the life-changing injury, the then 56-year-old was unable to return to work for over two months. He contacted his trade union, Unite, who put him in touch with social justice law firm, Thompsons Solicitors.

For more than 100 years, Thompsons Solicitors has represented the injured and mistreated – such as Mr Branch – never employers or insurers. Thompsons’ serious injury team signposted Mr Branch to Pace Rehabilitation, the UK’s largest independent provider of amputee rehabilitation services, to help him along his road to recovery.

The insurers for Crawley Metal Supplies, despite admitting liability, attempted to settle the case quickly for £17,500. This was put forward without considering the time needed for Mr Branch to fully heal, and before the long-term implications of his injuries were known.

His lawyers fought for higher compensation, due to the severity of the physical injuries and the psychiatric trauma Mr Branch suffered, resulting in him requiring numerous sessions of therapy. Thompsons subsequently went on to settle his case for £190,000, which included over £100,000 for costs of prosthetics for the rest of his life.

Thompsons was also able to secure a significant interim payment which allowed Mr Branch to purchase a series of prostheses from Pace. Following a clinical assessment, Pace prosthetist Jamie Gillespie recommended the provision of a silicone cosmetic finger digit, a silicone protective cap and a Naked Prosthetics MCP Driver.

Thanks to his state-of-the-art prosthetics, Mr Branch has been able to get back into fishing and gardening – hobbies he thought were a thing of the past after his traumatic injury.

Mr Branch, who is now working full-time for another company as a labourer, said: “Thompsons and Pace have been incredible throughout this whole experience. I can’t praise them enough. More than anything, it’s been the psychological lift they’ve been able to give me. I was feeling very down after the accident, but their support has really given me a new lease of life.

“I was dreading the legal process with its distinct, complex language, but Thompsons made it so easy for me to understand.

“They kept me well-informed during the entirety of my compensation claim – they never stopped in their desire to help me get my compensation and some much-needed closure.

“I can’t thank my solicitor Kam Singh enough. He recommended getting in contact with Pace, who have proved a real lifeline for me. The team at Pace have been so good to me. They’ve helped opened up a whole new world with their prosthetics finger device. I can pretty much carry out tasks as before – something I thought wouldn’t be possible.”

Kam Singh, senior lawyer in Thompsons’ serious injuries team, said: "This was an avoidable accident on the part of Mr Branch’s employer which caused him to suffer such traumatic injuries.

“There is nothing that can ever fully repair the damage caused to his life, but we are pleased that we were able to secure a good compensation settlement. It now means Mr Branch can use these prosthetics for the rest of his life, without any worries of replacement costs. It just goes to show how vital union membership is – ensuring he received his compensation in full without any deductions.

“Although he will still face challenges as a result of the physical and psychological effects of his injury, Pace's team have provided a great opportunity for him to move forward with confidence.”