According to the Injuries Board of Ireland, almost 20% of personal injury claims they recieve are work injury related claims. However, whereas you may be forgiven for believing that many of these work injury claims are related to the construction industry, health and safety improvements over recent years have led to a decline in building-related work injury claims. Instead, there has been a rise in the number of accidents that occur in shops, offices and factories.
Before thinking about who is responsible for an accident at work in which you have suffered an injury, your first priority has to be to seek medical treatment. Some injuries, such as a slip or a fall, may feel as if they are nothing at all, but where your spine or head has received a knock, it could cause an injury that develops into a health issue of a far more serious nature later on. Whatever the circumstances of your accident, ensure that you make a point of visiting the accident and emergency department of your local hospital or make an appointment to visit your GP.
Initial Procedures for Work Injury Claims
Your visit to a hospital or doctor’s surgery will have been recorded in your medical history, together with details of any diagnoses made and any treatment given. You should also ensure that the accident is recorded in an “Accident Report Book” at your place of work and that you have a record of any witnesses to the accident. It helps to find out if any of your co-workers have experienced an accident similar to yours, or if you should have been given training before using a specific piece of equipment or machinery.
It is fair to say that the law in Ireland is very protective of employees, and there are strict laws in place to ensure that an employer has a duty of care to anybody who works for him. Liability for work injury claims can arise if the employer has failed to provide a safe place of work, a safe system of work or provided comprehensive training for any element of their job. However, there are two considerations that you may need to take into account if you are considering making a work injury claim –
- Was the accident entirely the fault of the employer?
- Am I actually employed by the employer?
If you believe that you or a family member has suffered any form of work related injury, you can call our free phone line on to talk to one of our experienced workplace injury solicitors for an assessment of your potential case. This free advice service is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If now is not a convenient time just fill in our contact form and we will call you back.
Contributory Negligence in Work Injury Claims
Work injury claims for compensation may be disputed where the employer believes that the employee brought their injuries upon themselves by acting in a negligent manner when aware of obvious or known risks. In a situation like this, a court hearing will be required to decide who should bear responsibility for the accident or whether liability should be divided, if it is found that the employee was partly at fault for the accident. Compensation payments for work injury claims may be reduced by a percentage to represent the level of contributory negligence it is judged was displayed by the employee.
Employment Status in Work Injury Claims
Your employment status may also have a bearing on whether you receive compensation for work injury claims. Self-employed workers or those who are engaged as sub-contractors or supplied by an agency do not enjoy the same level of protection as employed persons, and you should find out if you are in fact covered in the event of an accident at work. Being in one of these groups of workers does not necessarily disqualify you from work injury claims for compensation, but it is a field with so many grey areas that it is in your best interests to speak with a solicitor before making a work injury claim.
Employers and Work Injury Claims
As much as your employer may have sympathy for the injuries you have sustained, he is not going to be very happy about any accusation that he was responsible for the accident. Not only will the label of “negligent employer” make a bad impression, but the premiums for his employer’s liability insurance will increase, making his business less profitable. From your own perspective, it may strain the working relationship between you and your employer and possibly mean that working for this particular employer is no longer viable.
Because of these potential problems you may be tempted to accept an early settlement of work injury claims compensation or some other kind of “off the books” payment in lieu. It is not advisable to accept the offer of an immediate cash sum without speaking to a solicitor first. Although your initial loyalty to your employer may be rewarded with short term gain, should the injuries you sustained later lead to a situation where you are unable to work, you may not find your employer so “generous”. Employers and, to a certain degree, their insurance companies are keen to prevent work injury claims from going to court due to the high costs involved. Although the image of an employer pointing a grubby finger at the Book of Quantum while you lay bleeding heavily on the floor may not quite be an accurate picture, you need to be assured that any compensation you receive in settlement of a work injury claim is both fair and adequate.
Non-Accident Work Injury Claims
Many of the places in which we work present danger to our persons every day. No matter if you work in construction, on a farm, in a shop, office or factory, you are entitled to make a work injury claim if you have suffered an injury at work for which you were not entirely to blame. The injury does not even have to be caused by an accident. There are many “occupational” injuries which develop over a period of time and the Health & Safety Executive produce employer´s guidelines for employees using computers to prevent repetitive strain injury, neck injuries, eyestrain and overuse injuries of the upper limbs.
Workers in manufacturing may suffer from HAVS (Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome) brought on by many years of working with machines that vibrate heavily. It is estimated that one in ten people who have worked regularly with drills, chainsaws and grinding machinery will develop “White Finger” – a complaint caused by putting pressure on the small nerves and blood vessels in the fingers which will ultimately lead to losing the sense of touch.
Psychological trauma also falls within the category of personal injury when it comes to making work injury claims. If bullying or harassment at work is so great that it causes your physical or psychological health to be affected, you may be entitled to make a claim for compensation against your employer – who at all times retains a “duty of care” to his employees.
Every injury sustained by employees at work affects people in different ways. As each work injury claim is unique, it is best to talk with a specialist personal injury solicitor before contacting the Injuries Board of Ireland or accepting any offer of early settlement from your employer or his representatives.
If you would like to have an informal discussion to see how using a solicitor in your circumstance would be of benefit to you, please do not hesitate to get in touch by calling our free phone line on , or simply fill in our contact form to request we call you back at a convenient time.