Chesterfield builder sues after losing three fingers in wood chipper

James Ford, who lost three fingers in a wood chipper accident, outside High Court.
James Ford, who lost three fingers in a wood chipper accident, outside High Court.
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A Chesterfield builder who lost three fingers when he put his hand into a wood chipper while cutting back trees for a businessman is suing for six-figure damages.

James Ford, 39, lost the middle fingers of his left hand in the horrific accident at James Silverstone’s home, in May 2011.

He had been asked by Mr Silverstone to cut back some trees on his nine-acre property, off Station Road, Sutton-cum-Lound, Retford, London’s High Court heard.

But, claims Mr Ford, of St Leonards Drive, Chesterfield, he was not told how to use Mr Silverstone’s wood chipper properly, leading to the nasty accident.

On Monday, he told a judge in graphic details how he was left screaming in agony after suffering the amputation while unblocking the machine.

“I took a few handfuls out with my left hand and, as I turned back, my hand was close to it,” he told the court. “I went forward. I thought I had tripped. My hand went in and everything went quiet.

“I pulled my hand out and obviously that finger was off, that finger was off, and that one was hanging on. I screamed and walked to the house to phone Mr Silverstone.”

Mr Ford’s barrister, Daniel Bennett, said it is his case that he was given negligent instructions on how to use the machine by Mr Silverstone.

They had worked together on the machine on previous occasions and Mr Silverstone had unblocked the machine without turning it off, he claimed.

If such instructions were given, it was a ‘gross misuse’ of the machine, leading to a foreseeable risk of a serious accident, Mr Bennett continued.

Contesting the claim, Mr Silverstone’s barrister, James Candlin, said he never instructed Mr Ford to use the wood chipper at all.

“He asserts that there wasn’t any discussion between you as to your using the chipper on this occasion,” said the barrister.

“He denied discussing it at all.”

Mr Ford is claiming for the injury he sustained and the post traumatic stress disorder which he struggled with afterwards.

He said the disability has had an impact on his working life, as he is not able to do many of the things he used to.

It has also left him self-conscious, particularly at social events when children stare and ask questions about his hand.

He hopes to win substantila damages, in part to fund prosthetics, including one to help him hold and swing a golf club.

Mr Silverstone’s lawyers deny that he was in any way to blame for the accident.

The hearing, before Judge Nigel Wilkinson QC, continues.