Each year, the Health and Safety Authority publish a report concerning the number and type of workplace injuries that occur in Ireland. Although they are quick to point out that the total number of fatalities (2009/10 – 35) and injuries (2090/10 – 6,707) that are reported as occurring in the workplace is declining, they are also prepared to acknowledge that this is mostly due to the shift away from the more hazardous occupations of agriculture and construction into a more service-orientated economy.
However, as the general economy remains fragile, it may also be the case that employees are failing to report accidents and injuries that are sustained in the workplace for fear of what effect it may have on their employment prospects. Inasmuch as this argument is totally understandable, your employer has a duty of care towards you whilst you are working for him, and should you suffer an injury due to him neglecting this care, it will usually be his insurance company you are claiming against, rather than him personally.
Most employers would be aghast to know that their actions (or lack of them) have caused an injury to one of their staff, and will be prepared to support any injured employee in a claim for workplace injury compensation. Unfortunately, it is often their insurance companies which cause the delays in your receipt of compensation – along with some of the inadequacies of the Injuries Board Ireland application process. It is for these two reasons that it is strongly recommended that you speak with a specialised personal injury claims solicitor whenever you have sustained an injury in the workplace where your employer may have been to blame.
If you Sustain an Injury in the Workplace
If you sustain an injury in the workplace, your first consideration must be for your health. In a serious accident your employer should call an ambulance or arrange for you to go to your local accident and emergency department. In less serious cases, you should still make an appointment with your family doctor as soon as possible to have your injuries attended to – and a precautionary examination to ensure that there is no long term risk to your health.
In the event that your injuries are not caused by an accident but are due to exposure to a harmful substance or acquired through unregulated work practices, you should explain to your doctor what it is you do for a living so he is able to associate your injury with your employment. Some stress-related diseases may also be caused by working in an unsafe environment where pressure is put on you through bullying, harassment or by an inappropriate workload.
You doctor should be able to administer treatment for many of the physical injuries that can be acquired in the workplace, but in respect of injuries caused through constant vibration, noise or poor ergonomics, his advice would probably be to cease working in the environment until your injuries are healed. Your attendance at a medical centre is important if you intend to claim for workplace injury compensation, as the relevant medical records will be used to support your application for compensation to the Injuries Board Ireland.
Applying to the Injuries Board Ireland
Applying to the Injuries Board Ireland is the first stage in making a claim for compensation when you have sustained an injury in the workplace. You can call them and ask them to send you an application form, or it can be completed online. Although it looks as if it is a straightforward procedure, there are a number of areas where you may not know what information needs to be entered and what documents need to be attached to your application to support it – ideally your medical notes, a copy of the relevant entry in your employer´s “Accident Report Book”, if applicable, and any receipts to substantiate your claim for out-of-pocket expenses.
The inadequacies of the Injury Board Ireland´s application process, mentioned above, relate to the fact that there are very few places where you can explain how your injury was sustained and the impact it has had on your quality of life or future earning potential. There is nowhere on the application form where you can explain a non-anatomical injury or psychological trauma: irrespective of the depth of information provided by your doctor, you will still be required to undergo an independent medical examination once your application is received.
Much of the nine months it takes for an application for workplace injury compensation to be processed is taken up by the time allowed for your employer to respond to your initial application for compensation. Even though he may be supportive of your claim for workplace injury compensation, the process may be delayed by his insurance company wishing to make a claims assessment of their own before allowing him to respond and accept his liability for your injuries. In the event that he fails to do so, the Injuries Board Ireland will decline any further involvement and issue you with an authorisation to pursue your claim through the courts.
Pursuing a Workplace Injury Compensation Claim through the Courts
Pursuing a workplace injury compensation claim through the courts is not as intimidating as it may at first seem. It is unlikely that you will ever face your employer across a courtroom, as you will be represented by a solicitor and your employer will be represented by the legal department of his insurance company. Furthermore, where claims for compensation have not been resolved by the Injuries Board Ireland, they are more often than not settled by negotiation between the legal representatives of each party before court action is necessary.
This includes cases where your employer claims you were partly responsible for your injuries – known as contributory negligence – and a further instance of where the Injuries Board Ireland will not process an application for workplace injury compensation. The only other occasion when litigation may be required is when either party disagrees with the assessment of the Injuries Board Ireland – either you because you feel their assessment is too little for the injuries you have sustained, or your employer´s insurance company because they believe it is too much.
If You are Approached by Your Employer´s Insurance Company
If you are approached by your employer´s insurance company, it is usually with an offer of early settlement. This act is known as attempted “third party capture”, and the insurance company will offer to make a quick payment to you in return for you accepting a lower amount of compensation than you might otherwise expect. It is important you realise that insurance companies are in business for their own benefit and, although their offer may come at a time when you may be concerned about the future, your ability to return to work and to support your family, it is often an insufficient amount to cover any expenses you have already experienced.
The approach itself, however, is not necessarily a bad thing. If an insurance company is keen to put an offer on the table, it implies that they are willing to discuss terms and want to save any potential future court costs. Once a solicitor intervenes, the amount of the offer usually increases to a more appropriate level, and settlement is reached far sooner than it would have been if left to the Injuries Board Ireland. An approach by your employer´s insurance company is a positive move, but it needs to be treated with caution.
Although the number of workplace injuries appears to be declining, this is of little consolation to you if you have just had an accident which has left you immobile, in pain and traumatised. Even less severe injuries can cause a great amount of inconvenience and discomfort. Inasmuch as you may have reservations about claiming workplace injury compensation insurance against an employer, the fact that you are doing so may encourage him to correct whichever element of the work environment presents a risk to your work colleagues and prevent somebody else suffering the same fate.
The best way to ensure that you receive a fair and adequate award of compensation is to use a solicitor to compile and pursue your claim for workplace injury compensation. Even if you have already submitted your application to the Injuries Board Ireland, or it has got to the stage where you have been approached by your employer´s insurance company, it is not too late to get in touch with us and receive some practical and helpful advice on how you should proceed next.
Talk to us now by calling our free phone line on or filling in our call back form below.
When you call us, you will be put through to a solicitor who is very experienced in all workplace injury compensation matters.
What can you Expect?
We will listen to you as you tell us about your claim in complete confidence.
We can normally tell you quickly if your claim is worth pursuing, the likelihood of your succeeding, and what will be involved in the claim’s process, including how long it usually takes.
We can also tell you the general level of compensation for your workplace injury, and if there are likely to be any costs involved.
The result of the call is advice about what you should consider doing next.
Right now, the easiest next step is to call our Free Phone solicitor advice line on
If you cannot speak to us now, simply fill in the contact form below to request a call from us at any time that is convenient for you.