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Compensation Claims Against the State Up by Almost a Fifth

Posted: October 21st, 2017

A recent report issued by the State Claims Agency has shown that there was a rise in the cost of compensation claims taken against the State, bringing the overall cost of these compensation actions to almost €2.2 billion last year.

This is equivalent to 22% increase on the 2016 figures according to the agency responsible for legal actions taken against the State.  The total number of cases encountered throughout 2016 was 8,900 up to the end of the year, up from 6,000 in 2015.

Main Factors Behind the Increase in Compensation Paid Out by the State

  1. The Department of Education settled/paid out legal compensation claims for an estimated €50 million.
  2. €1.9 billion of the €2.2 billion overall State compensation paid out was by Tusla and the Health Service Executive (HSE).
  3. Any individual who is successful in a legal action is now entitled to a higher pay out following a Supreme Court ruling to make up for falling returns on the cash awarded.
  4. The Department of Justice and Defence paid out State compensation claims worth around €175 million compared to €27 million of compensation claims for the Department of Health.

The State Claims Agency, part of the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), was established to address the continual increases in compensation actions being made against the State.

Séamus McCarthy Comptroller and Auditor General for the NTMA commented on the increase of 22% saying “The number of claims under management has increased significantly since 2011”.

Six-figure Settlement for Family of Worker

Posted: January 26th, 2016

A compensation settlement of €500,000 has been approved in court for the widow of a man who was killed in a work accident.

Declan Byrne was killed in a tragic accident that occurred on the 30th April 2008. Aged just thirty-one,Mr Byrne was at work on the Connacht Sportsground, assisting in the construction of a new gym. Whilst attempting to realign a 1.4 tonne steel beam, the beam fell and gravely injured Mr Byrne, resulting in his death. An investigation ensued into the circumstances of the accident, after which charges were brought against Mr Byrne’s employers, CDM Steel Ltd for breaches of the 2005 Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act.

When the case was heard in the Galway Circuit Criminal Court in November 2013, the construction company was acquitted of the charges. The court had heard evidence that Mr Byrne had made the decision to use scaffolding and a bottle jack, choosing this method over a crane, as the blockwork of the new construction had already been almost completed. The judge overseeing the case did comment on the “appalling lack of communication” on the construction site, mentioning that there was also a lack of supervision.

After the announcement that her husband’s employers had been acquitted, Dolores Byrne, from Ballyhaunis in Mayo, made a work accident claim against CDM Steel Ltd following. The widow claimed that, despite their acquittal, the company was liable for her husband’s accident and death. She also brought charges against Portent Developments Ltd (the main contractor for the site), Rugby Football Union’s Connacht division and the owners of the sports goring, the Irish Rugby Football Union.

The parties denied any liability in Mr Byrne’s death, claiming that the fact he jeopardised himself by using the method he did for moving the beam was evidence that he regard for his own safety. The case proceeded to the High Court in Dublin, where Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told that a €500,000 compensation settlement had been offered to the widow for her compensation claim

Mr Justice Cross said that, though he was happy to approve the settlement, it “nothing can replace” what Mrs Byrne and her two children had lost. He offered his condolences to the family before approving the six-figure settlement.

Man Compensated by Family Firm for Brain Injuries

Posted: September 6th, 2015

A man, who sustained severe injuries to his brain after he fell off a ladder whilst at work, has received a seven-figure settlement of compensation for his injuries.

Michael Brady, aged forty-seven from Monasterevin in Co. Kildare, had just begun working at his family’s construction firm, Philip Brady Building Contractors Ltd in Naas, when the accident occurred. On the 22nd March 2011, Michael was working with his father, Philip Brady Senior (who, though related to the owner of the firm, does not own it himself), when he was asked to remove overgrown vegetation from a gutter. To do this, he was required to climb up a sixteen-foot ladder.

Philip briefly left Michael working atop of the ladder, but when he returned he found his son unresponsive on the ground. The emergency services were called and Michael was rushed to hospital, where he underwent an emergency brain operation. Since the accident, Michael has had many more surgeries to both repair the damage to his brain and face. Despite these procedures, Michael has been reliant on twenty-four hour care since his accident and has suffered from impaired vision.

The accident meant that Michael was not able to represent himself in legal proceedings, so his father, Philip Senior, made a claim for work injury compensation against the contractors. In his legal action, Philip alleged that the ladder provided to Michael was not suitable for the work required and that it did not have the adequate safety mechanisms to prevent an accident such as Michael’s.

Though Philip Brady Building Contractors Ltd initially denied liability for the injuries Michael sustained, they eventually offered Michael a compensation settlement of €1.5 million. This offer was made very shortly before the scheduled High Court hearing, and after hearing details of the case, the judge approved the settlement and proceeded to close the case.

Big Jump in Workplace Injury Compensation Settlements

Posted: April 3rd, 2015

The Injuries Board Annual Review for 2014 has revealed a substantial increase in the average value of workplace injury compensation settlements.

Although the Injuries Board Annual Review for 2014 indicated a general stabilisation in the number of workplace injury claims, the average value of workplace injury settlements increased by almost 12% from €28,886 in 2013 to €32,134 in 2014.

One exceptional employer liability claim – which resulted in an assessment of €972,898 – was partially responsible for increasing the average value of workplace injury compensation settlements, which over the course of the year totalled €20.1 million.

The Injuries Board figures do not account for any workplace injury compensation settlements that were resolved by negotiation prior to the Injuries Board completing its assessment, or any workplace injury claims in which liability was contested and the claim had to be resolved in court.

31,576 applications for assessment were received by the Injuries Board last year (including motor liability and public liability claims) and, after the Injuries Board had completed its assessments, 12,420 settlements were accepted (39%).

The acceptance rate is significantly higher than the previous year due to a large volume of applications being received towards the end of 2013 which were only resolved last year. Nonetheless, Patricia Byron – the Chief Executive of the Injuries Board was satisfied with the performance of her organisation over 2014. She said:

“While the volume of new claims stabilized last year, the increase in the number of awards made by the Board is a clear indication that more respondents, typically insurers, are opting to engage with our low cost claims resolution service and recognize the real value of avoiding unnecessary and costly litigation where uncontested claims are concerned”.

Ms Byron continued: “2014 was an important year for us as we marked a decade in operation. As a result of our journey, personal injury compensation is now delivered in 7 months and at a processing cost of 6.7%, compared to almost 3 years and a cost of 58% for litigated claims. With over €1 billion in savings delivered to date and a ten year track record behind us, the benefits of non-adversarial claims resolution are unequivocal.”

Settlements of Workplace Injury Claims Delayed by New Compensation Process

Posted: July 28th, 2014

From 1st August, settlements of workplace injury claims could be delayed by up to three months due to the introduction of the DSP´s “Recovery of Certain Benefits and Assistance Scheme”.

The “Recovery of Certain Benefits and Assistance Scheme” is a new initiative from the Department of Social Protection (DSP) – due to be introduced on Friday 1st August – which will enable the Department to recover specific welfare benefits from plaintiffs´ settlements of workplace injury claims.

Although the new scheme will likely only affect the most seriously injured plaintiffs (due to the categories of benefits that are included in new scheme), employers´ insurance companies will have to apply to the DSP for a statement indicating whether or not the injured employee has received any of the following benefits due to their workplace injury over the previous five years:

  • Disability Allowance
  • Invalidity Pension
  • Injury Benefit
  • Illness Benefit
  • Partial Capacity Benefit
  • Incapacity Supplement

The employer´s insurance company will then deduct any applicable welfare benefits that have been received, send a repayment to the DSP, and the balance to the plaintiff – but only once the insurer has received a certificate of repayment, and this is the issue which could result in settlements of workplace injury claims being delayed.

The DSP has four weeks in which to supply the employer´s insurance company with the statement of welfare benefits paid; after which the speed at which the settlement will be made to the plaintiff depends on the efficiency of the insurance company to send the repayment, and the time it takes for the DSP to reply. With the new processes in place from next month, settlements of workplace injury claims could be delayed by up to three months.

Plaintiffs and prospective plaintiffs should note that the repayment of welfare benefits is not the plaintiff´s responsibility, nor does the receipt of welfare benefits disqualify a plaintiff from claiming workplace injury compensation.

If you are unsure about the new procedures relating to the settlement of workplace injury claims, how to check that deductions from your compensation settlement are accurate – and the appeals procedure if they are found to be incorrect – it is recommended that you consult with a workplace injury solicitor at the first practical opportunity.

Man to Receive Workplace Injury Compensation for Slip and Fall from Roof

Posted: May 6th, 2014

A County Wicklow man is to receive €1.5 million injury compensation for a slip and fall from a roof after the settlement of his workplace injuries claim was approved at the High Court.

Paul O´Brien from Glenealy in County Wicklow was in the first day of a new job on 18th July 2012, after years of being unemployed due to the collapse of the construction industry. Paul had acquired a four-month contract to work on the high-pitch roof of a house in Bray and, as it started to rain, Paul went to a ladder leant up against the side of the building to descend from the roof .

However, as fifty-year-old Paul put his weight onto the ladder, it slipped on wooden decking it had been stood upon, and Paul fell to the ground – suffering a violent blunt force head trauma, due to which he suffered brain damage and now only has a short-term memory which will prevent him from ever working again.

Paul made a claim for workplace injury compensation for a slip and fall from a roof through his wife – Sandra – against the employer who had offered him the short-term contract – Sean Lyons of Clondalkin, Dublin. In his action Paul claimed that Lyons had failed to provide suitable scaffolding or work at height protection in order that he had a safe environment in which to work.

Paul also claimed that the ladder he was supplied with was in an unsafe condition, that it had not been securely tethered to the side of the building, and that the combination of an unsafe and unsecured ladder placed on slippery wooden decking had resulted in a dangerous workplace hazard.

A €1.5 million settlement of injury compensation for a slip and fall from a roof was negotiated out-of-court by Paul and Sandra´s solicitors; however because of the nature of Paul´s injury – and due to a claim being made on his behalf – the settlement had to first be approved by a judge before the claim could be closed.

Consequently, in the High Court, Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard the circumstances of Paul´s workplace accident and that Sandra had taken a two-year sabbatical from her own job to look after her husband. The judge was told that a €1.5 million settlement of injury compensation for a slip and fall from a roof had been agreed upon, and that the family were satisfied with the offer.

The judge approved the settlement – although not before commenting that it was a good one in the circumstances due to the possibility of contributory negligence being a factor if the claim had proceeded to court. The judge then closed the hearing, after expressing her sympathy for the O´Brien family.

Injuries Board Acknowledges Trend in Forklift Accidents at Work

Posted: August 6th, 2013

Analysts at the Injuries Board have identified a trend in the increasing number of forklift accidents at work.

Writing for the Injuries Board web site, Stephen Watkins – Director of Corporate Services – highlighted the fact that 2012 showed an increase in the number of forklift accidents at work despite fewer work-related accident injury claims.

He stated that the Injuries Board had assessed 40 applications for forklift accident compensation in 2012 compared to 34 throughout 2011 even though the number of Injuries Board assessments for accidents had work had fallen from 820 in 2011 to 807 last year.

The nature of the forklift accidents at work varied greatly, and ranged from being rear-ended by another vehicle while operating a forklift to being hit by pallets falling from a forklift.

Fortunately the most serious accidents resulted in no more than broken limbs, although Mr Watkins was keen to point out that the transport and storage section has traditionally the third-highest mortality rate in the workplace behind construction and agriculture.

Injuries Board assessments which were accepted in 2012 amounted to €1.3 million – a similar figure to 2011 – and, according to Mr Watkins, the Injuries Board wanted to remind those responsible for safety in workplaces in which forklift trucks were in use not to become complacent.

Pallet Accident Compensation for Slip Awarded to Women

Posted: December 20th, 2012

A woman, who suffered soft tissue damage to both ankles in a loading bay accident, is to receive €37.000 in pallet accident compensation for a slip at work.

Katrin Weiss was employed as an Operations Manager for a window frame and door manufacturer Bereco Ltd when her accident happened early last year.

While she was covering for a colleague who was absent through illness, Katrin ensuring that a delivery was dispatched on time. Most of the packed pallets for delivery had been loaded onto the truck, but a number of bundles of handles and frames remained to be shipped.

As she was reaching for these, Katrin had to walk over another pallet. The other palled had its edges concealed by a sheet of plywood and, as Katrin made her way back down, she slipped on the edge of the pallet and fell – badly injuring one ankle and suffering severe ligament damage in the other.

Katrin was taken to the hospital where medical staff fixed two screws into her ankle to try and stabilise the ankle injury. Despite this, the ligaments failed to heal and Katrin had to undergo two further operations before a metal frame was implanted into her foot in December 2011 to make her mobility easier.

After seeking legal advice, Katrin filed a claim for pallet accident injury compensation for a slip on a pallet at work, claiming that in addition to her injury she had been inflicted with a five-and-a-half-inch scar on her leg, had suffered a serious loss of amenity during her recovery and had been unable to return to work for fifteen months after the accident. There is also a strong chance that Katrin will suffer a degenerative form of arthritis in the future.

Katrin claimed in her legal action that her employers had been behaved in a negligent manner by not providing her with any safety training relating to how to load the lorry properly and that she was not made aware of any risks linked with the task she had been asked to perform.

Bereco Ltd accepted their liability for Katrin’s injuries after an investigation internally and a settlement was agreed out of court in which Bereco Ltd would pay Katrin €37,000 in palled accident compensation for her slip.

Scottish Workplace Injury Claims Increase by 24 Percent

Posted: November 5th, 2012

Figures published by the Department of Work and Pensions compensation recovery unit have indicated that workplace injury claims in Scotland increased by almost a quarter in the twelve months to March 2012.

6,191 personal injury compensation claims were recorded by the Department of Work and Pensions during the year, as opposed to 4,955 throughout the previous twelve months and in spite of workplace accidents in Scotland reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) declining by almost 7 percent in the same period.

The percentage increase in workplace injury compensation claims in Scotland is six times that recorded in England and Wales and, according to a leading Scottish solicitor, could increase still further. Fear of losing their job and not getting another one – particularly in the current economic climate – may have held workers back from making compensation claims in the past he claimed but “given the preponderance of employment in agriculture and construction, plus the significant rates of accidents in this country, we would expect a lot more claims.”

Commenting on the increase of almost 50 percent in workplace deaths in Scotland, Alistair McNab – HSE head of operations in Scotland – stated: “While there has been a welcome drop in injury and ill-health in Scotland, the increase in workplace deaths proves that there is no room for complacency. It is important that efforts are concentrated on managing the risks that lead to serious harm in workplaces throughout Scotland. It is unacceptable that Scottish workers are still failing to come home from work safe”.

There are two significant factors which should be considered when comparing the number of injuries reported to the HSE against the number of workplace injury claims in Scotland. First, as unemployment continues to increasse in Scotland, the percentage decrease in workplace accidents in Scotland is much lower if measured in injuries per 100 employees.

Secondly, only reportable injuries under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) are registered by the HSE. If an employer does not inform the HSE of an incident – or it does not qualify under RIDDOR regulations – that accident and injury is not considered in the annual report.

BT Engineer Mesothelioma Compensation Case Man Dies

Posted: August 3rd, 2012

A former BT Building Contract Manager has died shortly after commencing  a BT engineer mesothelioma compensation case against his former employers.

Derek Butler (74) from Weston in Somerset was found to have mesothelioma cancer earlier this year – an industrial disease caused by exposure to asbestos. At the inquest into his death, Assistant Deputy Coroner Dr Peter Harrowing heard from consultant physician Dr Justin Pepperell, who confirmed Mr Butler had passed away as a result of malignant mesothelioma.

The court was also read a statement prepared by Derek before to his death in which the deceased explained that he had worked for British telecommunications from 1967 and, in 1980, had been promoted to the position of Building Contract Manager. His new job included the preparation and remodelling of buildings which were transferring from mechanical to electrical telephone systems.

Although Derek´s major area of responsibility was in the planning of the remodelling, his work involved on-site supervision. While on-site – the statement continued – Derek was exposed to cables coated in asbestos and, despite the presence of plastic sheets, a major volume of dust fibres were released into the atmosphere because of the scale of the project. This continued until Derek´s retired from the role in 1996.

The inquest was also told that Derek had started a claim for BT engineer mesothelioma cancer after his condition had been attributed to his exposure to asbestos while working for BT and, summing up the hearing, Assistant Deputy Coroner Dr Peter Harrowing said: “Mr Butler did not work directly with asbestos but when working with BT and working with buildings which were remodelled it was likely he was exposed to asbestos during that work. I accept the medical cause of death as being one due to industrial disease.”

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