An Introduction to Claims for Lyme Disease at Work
If you have contracted Lyme disease due to the negligence of your employer, you may be eligible to make compensation claims for Lyme disease at work. Lyme disease is a notifiable disease in Ireland and, although between eight and eighteen cases are reported each year, it has been estimated by the HSE´s Health Protection Surveillance Centre that at least one hundred people suffer the symptoms of the disease each year.
The reason for the discrepancy between the number of cases reported and the HSE´s estimation is that Lyme disease most frequently manifests with flu-like symptoms. Often the body copes with these symptoms by itself. However, depending on the volume of Lyme borreliosis bacteria that enters the bloodstream, the symptoms can develop into more serious conditions such as inflammatory arthritis, facial paralysis, meningitis and heart failure.
How Lyme Disease is Contracted
Lyme disease is present in many farmyard animals, woodland creatures and rodents. It is transferred by ticks feeding on an infected animal and then biting a human. The prime time for contracting Lyme disease is during the summer months, when the ticks are more numerous and more active, and when more people take trips into the countryside to enjoy the longer days and fairer weather.
In addition to experiencing flu-like symptoms, many people bitten by an infected tick will develop a distinctive circular rash – often described as resembling a bullseye on a dartboard. The area of skin affected by the rash will be red and the edges may feel slightly raised. Naturally, if you see a rash like this on your body, your first course of action should be to seek professional medical advice.
Claims for Lyme Disease at Work
Lyme disease is a year-round threat – especially for employees who work on farms, in forests or in woodland where there is deep or overgrown vegetation, and where ticks have access to animals to feed on. Employers should make their employees aware of the risk of Lyme disease and provide personal protective equipment against tick bites – especially after an infection in the area has been notified to the HSE´s Health Protection Surveillance Centre.
In addition to advising an employee to wear long trousers and long-sleeved shirts, a regime of checking for the presence of ticks or tick bites should be introduced. Where there is a risk of contracting Lyme disease via a bite from an infected tick, an employee should also be provided with DEET and Permethrin to mitigate the risk of being bitten. When an employer fails in their duty of care to protect against the risk of injury, and an employee subsequently contracts Lyme disease, it will be possible to make claims for Lyme disease at work.
Claiming Lyme Disease Compensation from an Employer
Claims for Lyme disease at work are most often resolved via the Injuries Board process or via negotiation between your solicitor and your employer´s insurance company. Even if you choose to apply to the Injuries Board for an assessment of Lyme disease compensation, it is in your best interests to prepare your application for assessment with the help of a solicitor.
This is because the Injuries Board will only assess the level of compensation based on what has been included in Form A. If you omit to inform the Injuries Board about any element of your life that has been affected by your disease, you will not receive an appropriate settlement of your claim. With the assistance of a solicitor, you can be assured that factors such as your loss of amenity and economic loss will be included in the Injuries Board´s assessment.
Unsolicited Offers of Lyme Disease Compensation
It is sometimes the case in claims for Lyme disease at work that an employer´s insurance company will approach the injured victim directly with an offer of compensation in return for early settlement. While it may be tempting to accept the offer, insurance companies use this method – known as “third party capture” – in order to reduce their costs and without consideration being given to the long term consequences of an illness.
The long term consequences of Lyme disease are most often serious health issues. The serious health issues may result in many years of being unable to earn a salary. Therefore, if you receive an offer of compensation from an insurance company – which effectively admits your employer´s liability – it should be referred to your solicitor in order to establish whether the offer adequately reflects your illness and the economic and non-economic impact it has had on your life.
Contributory Negligence and Lyme Disease Compensation
The term contributory negligence refers to any event in which the victim may have influenced the cause or the severity of their injury. In relation to claims for Lyme disease at work, if you were provided with DEET and Permethrin but did not know which was for your skin and which was for your clothes – and you failed to ask before applying them incorrectly – you may be considered to have contributed to your injury by your own lack of care.
Another example of contributory negligence in claims for Lyme disease at work is if you were bitten by a tick and developed symptoms similar to those described above, but failed to seek professional medical attention before the symptoms developed into a more serious condition. You failure to seek professional medical attention will not disqualify you from making claims for Lyme disease at work, but it will likely affect how much compensation you receive.
Claims for Lyme Disease at Work: Summary
- Employees who contract Lyme disease during the course of their employment may be eligible to make claims for Lyme disease at work, if it can be proven that their employer failed in their duty of care to protect them from the risk of injury.
- If you develop the symptoms of Lyme disease, you should seek immediate professional medical attention. The failure to do so could have serious implications for your health and affect how much Lyme disease compensation you receive.
- Claims for Lyme disease at work are made through the Injuries Board. By using the services of a solicitor, you are more likely to receive a settlement of Lyme disease compensation appropriate to the level of injury you have sustained and the impact it has had on your quality of life.
- A solicitor can also negotiate an appropriate settlement on your behalf if you receive an unsolicited approach from your employer´s insurer with an offer of Lyme disease compensation. Insurance companies favour this approach to save themselves money and not for your benefit.
- In all claims for Lyme disease at work, it is in your best interests to discuss the circumstances of your injury and the consequences the injury has had on your quality of life at the first possible opportunity.