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Finger amputated by our letterbox...
27

fizzpops · 09/09/2009 22:04

We have just received a letter from a firm of solicitors telling us that we are being held responsible for an accident that occurred at our house when someone was hand delivering a letter.

Basically the top of the person's finger was amputated, the finger was fractured and there is 'possible nerve damage'.

We had some warning around the time that the accident happened as her employer told my husband but that was the last we heard till now, almost a month later.

We saw no evidence of an accident - no blood, skin etc. There have never been any previous accidents and although the edge of the letterbox flap is quite keen, in proper use (as it has been used by numerous people for four years), it shouldn't present a hazard.

We opened the letter too late to contact our insurers so not sure if we have cover but we have never been in this situation before and have no idea of what we might be liable for and how long this may go on for.

Obviously we will be contacting our insurers as soon as possible.

Any thoughts from anyone would be greatly appreciated.

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ElectricElephant · 09/09/2009 22:07

wow, that sounds awful..

I would suggest that they have to prove the letterbox itself is dangerous, if it's been in use by your postman for 4 years, then I doubt that will be possible. I am not a legal bod though, so only a guess.

Hope you reach a resolution soon

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Milliways · 09/09/2009 22:07

Ouch!

How can they prove it was your letterbox if no witnesses?

Have you changed the box, or was it there when you moved in?

Hopefully your insurers will be of assistance tomorrow.

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wonderingwondering · 09/09/2009 22:09

Your home insurance should include occupiers' liability, which should cover it. They will defend the claim for you (i.e. do all the work, and pay the costs) and you'll probably have very little to do with it.

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mazzystartled · 09/09/2009 22:09

Shouldn't her employer's insurance cover this?

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fizzpops · 09/09/2009 22:10

There were witnesses as the person called out for help and an ambulance was called.

We changed the door and all associated locks/ letterbox/ doorknob four years ago.

Thanks for the good wishes it is the last thing we need at the moment.

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fizzpops · 09/09/2009 22:11

I mean the solicitor's letter is the last thing we need - not the good wishes!

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Milliways · 09/09/2009 22:11

There are lots of cases online (I just googled) of people being sued after people delivering junk mail injured themselves!

Some questions here

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wonderingwondering · 09/09/2009 22:12

Mazzy, the EL insurers would pursue the householder if she has a dangerous letter box. But in reality it will be one insurer (the employer's) suing another insurer (the hosueholder's buildings & contents insurer).

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VulpusinaWilfsuit · 09/09/2009 22:12

Sorry to be both dim and gruesome but surely it opens inwards? So said amputated joint would have ended up on your side? So you'd have known about it?

Unless, of course, you had a particularly carnivorous pet, hoover or, god forbid, child?



Sorry. Macabre humour no help in the circs, I'm sure. I hope you sort it out. Sounds like a wind-up or scam to me though: I bet there'll be another letter soon asking you to settle in advance of legal proceedings.

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Milliways · 09/09/2009 22:15

Similar case to yours

£16000 paid here!

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drlove8 · 09/09/2009 22:15

so where did the fingertip go?

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NorbertDentressangle · 09/09/2009 22:19

Good god -theres a thread title you don't find on MN everyday .

It seems strange that they claiming such severe injuries yet there wasn't even any blood or evidence on the door or letterbox afterwards?

I would be questioning how legit this is.

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ClaireDeLoon · 09/09/2009 22:22

Crazy, absolutely crazy. How can there have been no blood? I hope that nothing comes of this for you and the insurers sort it out.

Maybe we should all put warnings on our doors 'letterbox may bite, use at own risk'

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hatesponge · 09/09/2009 22:24

You will almost cetrtainly be covered for this & assuming you are, your insurers will deal with it all - just give them as much info as you can when you speak to them, particularly mentioning there was no blood, tissue etc. They may need to send someone out to inspect the letterbox as well!

In my experience, probably 2/3 of these type of claims, if not more, dont really come to anything - or result in a token payment to the injured person by the insurers without admission of liability, simply to dispose of the claim on economic grounds.

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fizzpops · 10/09/2009 08:26

Thanks for all your replies.

I think the fact that we have seen no physical evidence is what is making it seem so bizarre.

I guess in theory she could have sustained an injury in pulling her hand backwards through the letterbox and the blood took a while to start flowing, but there wasn't even anything on the ground.

I'm assuming that it was just the extreme tip that was severed and therefore just sewn back but we have no real information.

All we can think is that she pushed the letter through the letterbox, then let the letterbox flap go without removing her hand and pulled it back thus causing the injury. Seems like a lack of common sense to me. Surely we all know how a letterbox works?

According to DH we are covered by insurance but we are double checking to make sure as our policy is only 2 months old.

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fizzpops · 10/09/2009 08:28

Btw the word 'amputated' was used by the solicitor, I was not trying to make the incident seem more serious than it was.

The word 'severed' is all mine though - maybe I should have said partially severed.

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ABetaDad · 10/09/2009 08:42

Do not under any circumstances reply to the solicitors letter. You may invalidate your nsurance by accidentally accepting liability.

Act only on your insurance company's instructions. Refer the solicitor to your insurers. Do not enter into any kind of conversation or dicussion in person, by phone by email or by letter.

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EleanoraBuntingCupcake · 10/09/2009 08:44

what sort of freak sues over thsi sort of thing? if i hurt myself on a letterbox, i would call myself a nob and hope no one ever found out!

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LynetteScavo · 10/09/2009 08:49

Why the hell are they trying to sue you?

She was tresspassing surely, if she stuck her hand inside your house.

Also why sue you, and not the letterbox manufacturer?

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ArizonaBarker · 10/09/2009 09:02

So true, EBC!

I would be thinking up a more plausable and less embarrassing reason for the injury, not taking legal action.

Good luck, OP.

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ABetaDad · 10/09/2009 09:02

Trespassers can sue. My Dad was a farmer and he had huge insurance policies to protect hiself against death and injury to trespassers, even thieves.

I suppose the OP could raise an equal and offsetting claim againt the letter box manufacturer or the firm that installed it. However, I say again, her insurance company shoud deal with this. On no account accept liability or even that the accident happened. Everything has to be proved.

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snorkie · 10/09/2009 09:05

Dd injured her finger quite badly doing a paper round with a friend this summer. The wound was really nasty and took over 3 weeks to heal to the point where she could get it wet (so no swimming on holiday), she also lost the nail which will hopefully grow back. I don't think her finger will ever look 'normal'.

Why, oh why do people have such vicious letterboxes? I don't blame the owners by the way - it's the manufacturers that are at fault imo. Several people suggested to me that we should sue over it, but I view it as an accident. Maybe though if more people did, letterbox design would change & that would stop these unnecessary incidents?

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gagamama · 10/09/2009 09:25

Just out of interest, if you have a sign saying 'no unsolicited mail' or something, would you still be potentially liable if somebody injured themselves delivering any?

I hope you get everything sorted out, OP. It sounds laughable, but must still be extremely worrying for you.

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gagamama · 10/09/2009 09:27

Re-reading the OP, I can't quite make head or tail of how a finger can be amputated and fractured. They're trying it on, surely?

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snorkie · 10/09/2009 10:09

gagamama, a crush injury caused by a closing door (or letterbox) can quite commonly cause a tip amuputation and/or fracture of a finger. I don't see why you think you can't have both. I doubt the claimant is 'trying it on' if by that you mean making up or exagerating the injury. If you mean trying to capitalise on it then yes.

OP - There was loads of blood with dd's finger, but not sure how much if any was on or around the letterbox concerned.

There should be some safety standards put in place for letterboxes - they don't need such fierce springs as some have, but I really can't see that this is the fault of someone buying and using an off-the-shelf letterbox. Unless you have modified it to make it more vicious, then surely the fault lies with the manufacturer.

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