Compensation for curtailment of career after knife accident in abattoir

Sam Seaford | Jan 2023

Accidents involving knives are common among people who work in food and catering industries.  But stabbing or slicing injuries can be particularly serious in an abattoir where the knives are larger than usual and the carcasses are difficult to handle, as they are large and often moving.

Personal Injury expert Sam Seaford, recently negotiated £380,000 in compensation for an abattoir worker whose career was prematurely curtailed in an accident where he had not been provided with the appropriate personal protective equipment.  All employers have a duty under health & safety laws to do all they reasonably can to keep their workers safe and, amongst other things, abattoir workers should be provided with chainmail arm protectors.

Our client had not been provided with any arm protection, and while he was preparing a large cow carcass his knife got caught. As he applied more pressure, the knife slipped out of the carcass, and he stabbed himself in his left forearm very deeply.

There was immediate pain and profuse bleeding.  Fortunately, his colleagues helped and applied a torniquet before he was taken via ambulance to hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery.  On examination it became clear that his ulnar artery had been severed and there was damage to the ulnar nerve and underlying tendons.

His employer admitted liability on the basis that no adequate PPE was provided, but it took some time to agree the amount of compensation with the employer’s insurer due to the complexity of the injury.

It was necessary for the slaughterman to undertake physical and occupational therapy to see how well he would recover. As part of the settlement, we secured a package of treatment with a spinal cord stimulator to give him the best chance of a speedy recovery.  This is essentially an electrical unit inserted into the spinal column that sends pulses through the nervous system in an attempt to ‘trick’ it by masking a pain signal.

Unfortunately, the seriousness of the injury and nerve damage meant that he was unable to achieve a complete rehabilitation. He developed a clawing of his left hand, and he experienced significant amounts of pain, with discomfort and numbness at the site of the wound and in some of his fingers. He described his left arm as ‘next to useless,’ and even simple tasks like DIY or gardening had become impossible.

An expert in pain management was instructed to prepare a report.  Such evidence was vital in terms of support for our client’s claim of high pain levels but also assisted with setting out an appropriate treatment plan to treat the same.  Funding for this treatment was obtained as part of this settlement as a future loss.

The other main financial issue to consider was loss of earnings and any impact on his pension, because it was not clear what, if anything, he would be able to do for work up to retirement age (he was 48 at the time of the accident).  His only experience was of working as a butcher slaughterman, which requires both hands to hold the meat as well as cut.  He was severely limited in what he could do for work, as he could not do any manual job that involved bi-lateral hand movement and, as English was not his first language, office or clerical work was not an option.

His inability to work and earn a living independently also affected him psychologically, especially when he had to register as disabled with the DWP.

All of these issues – pain, suffering, treatment, past and future lost income and pension – were taken into account when negotiating the compensation. Alongside this, it was important to protect his benefits from means testing on the basis a large lump sum payment such as this can have an impact on someone’s eligibility for benefits.  Our client required advice with respect to setting up a Personal Injury Trust to avoid disruption in this regard.

Contact us

To find out more about how our Personal Injury team may be able to help you claim compensation following an accident that was not your fault, please contact Sam Seaford on 01908 689375 or via email at to arrange a free and no obligation initial consultation.

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.


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Sam Seaford, Partner

Sam Seaford | Partner

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