Employee's sliced hand costs Westside Tavern $500,000

THE owners of Maryborough's Westside Tavern have been ordered to pay a former employee more than half a million dollars by the District Court of Queensland after the woman sliced halfway through her hand at work in 2010.

Angela Mary Simmons cut her left hand while working as a kitchen hand.

On April 20, 2010, she was cleaning the large metal drip tray for the grill.

It fell from the bench and when she reached out and tried to catch it, a sharp edge of the grill cut her hand from the webbing between her second and third fingers to halfway down her palm.

After surgery, Ms Simmons tried to return to work, but had pain when trying to use her left hand.

She also had a loss of sensation and reduced grip strength.

While she was treated for a wound infection she was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome and had decompression surgery, which provided initial relief.

However the pain and loss of sensation later returned.

The defendants, tavern owners Leigh Douglas Wanless and Leith Wanless, conceded there was a causal connection between the accident and the carpal tunnel condition and admitted liability to compensate. 

The amount of damages was in dispute.

Apart from an unsuccessful trial in a hospitality role and a few short-term engagements, Ms Simmons had not worked since the carpal tunnel surgery.

Her symptoms had worsened and she was unable to use her hand for repetitive or weight bearing tasks without pain at the time or later.

Two doctors testified, one for the plaintiff and one for the defendants.

Each found Ms Simmons' pain was causally connected to her injury and neither felt further treatment would significantly improve her condition.

Judge Fleur Kingham's decision fell on whether she believed Ms Simmons and she was satisfied Ms Simmons had been honest.

She awarded $527,462.14 compensation for general damages, special damages, past economic loss and future loss of wages.

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