When you work for an employer, irrespective of your occupation, he has a legal obligation under regulations laid down in various Health, Safety and Welfare at Work Acts to provide a safe environment for you to work in. His responsibilities include making a risk assessment of any job you are required to undertake, provide adequate training to enable you to do the job safely and ensure any tools or equipment that you use in the execution of the task are maintained to an appropriate standard.
Where he fails to fulfil his obligations, and you suffer an injury due to his lack of care, you are entitled to claim workplace injury compensation against your employer. Understandably, a number of people may feel reluctant to claim against somebody that they may have been working with for a long period of time. However, it is usually the employer´s insurance company that is responsible for paying any award of compensation, and by using a solicitor to assist you with making a claim for workplace injury compensation, you can ensure that you receive a fair level of compensation and avoid the potential for an awkward workplace confrontation.
The most serious injuries lead to workplace fatalities and most frequently happen on construction sites and in the farming industry. However, there are thousands of accidents occurring every year due to negligent employers – varying from the most common trips, slips and falls to those which develop over a period of time, such as repetitive strain injuries, loss of hearing and bursitis. There are other workplace injuries which are not so tangible, yet are an employer´s responsibility to prevent. This would include illnesses due to victimisation, stress related diseases caused by bullying or an oppressive work load and accidents which are attributable to the victim being fatigued.
Whatever type of injury you sustain, your primary concern should be that of your health. In the event of a serious injury, it would be obvious that an ambulance would be called or somebody would escort you to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. But when your wrists start to ache after a day´s work or you cannot hear your children as clearly as you used to, it may be down to carpal tunnel syndrome or an aural threshold shift rather than old age, and it is advised to see a doctor as soon as possible.
Claiming Compensation for Workplace Injury
Once you have received appropriate medical attention, you should seek counsel from a specialist personal injury claims solicitor, familiar with workplace injuries and claiming compensation against negligent employers. A solicitor will be able to make a preliminary assessment of your entitlement to claim compensation for your workplace injury, advise you whether you have a case which is worth your while to pursue and instruct you on the correct course of action to follow to ensure that you receive a fair settlement.
The first stage of this process is the completion and submission of the Injuries Board Ireland application form. It is important that the form is completed comprehensively and with absolute attention to detail, as it is the basis on which the Injuries Board Ireland will make their assessment of the value of your compensation claim. This form can be completed online or by hand, and has to be sent with supporting documents, including your medical notes, a copy of any report made in your employer´s “Accident Report Book” and any receipts which prove you have experienced out-of-pocket costs during the period in which you were receiving medical treatment.
Workplace Injury Compensation and the Injuries Board Ireland
Even if you are familiar with the completion of online forms, you should still consult a solicitor before attempting to fill out the Injuries Board Ireland application form. There are a number of circumstances in which you may have sustained a workplace injury for which there are not sufficient fields on the application form, and frequently it is necessary to submit your form with an accompanying letter to elaborate on these missing elements. Your solicitor will advise you what to include and omit, and can even take over the responsibility of submitting the form on your behalf if you are still suffering from the trauma of your injury, and unable to complete it yourself.
Once the Injuries Board Ireland has received your application, a copy is sent to the defendant (in this case your employer) to seek his agreement that he was indeed negligent in causing your injuries. Should he decline to accept responsibility, the Injuries Board Ireland will issue an “authorisation” allowing you – with the assistance of your solicitor – to pursue your claim for workplace injury compensation through the courts. Usually, an employer will acknowledge his lack of care and the Injuries Board Ireland will ask you to attend an independent medical examination. Once the results of this are received, they will make an assessment of your claim for workplace injury compensation and inform you and your employer of their decision.
How Workplace Injury Compensation is Calculated
Workplace injury compensation, when assessed by the Injuries Board Ireland, is based on two elements – the “Book of Quantum” which determines the general damages based on the type and severity of the injury you have sustained, and “special” damages, which include out-of-pocket expenses, potential loss of earnings and an allowance for any ongoing medical costs. The “Book of Quantum” is a very useful guide, but is not comprehensive in areas such as industrial diseases and illnesses which are acquired over a period of time. It is ineffectual altogether when dealing with non-anatomical injuries, such as repetitive strain injury and hand-arm vibration syndrome, for which there may be no discernable injury.
Special damages, as well as compensating for the costs incurred in visiting a medical centre to receive treatment for your injuries, should also include factors such as psychological trauma, the influence your workplace injury may have on your future employment prospects and any long term effect your injuries have had on your quality of life. Quite often these are components of a workplace injury compensation claim which are overlooked, and as the Injuries Board Ireland only has a remit to process claims rather than consider what may be best for the victim, you may regularly find that their assessment is lower than what you may have hoped to receive: you may have to apply for an authorisation to claim adequate compensation through the courts.
Litigation and Workplace Injury Compensation
Whether you disagree or not with the Injury Board Ireland´s assessment for workplace injury compensation, your employer – or, more likely, his insurance company – may also disagree with the assessment and you will have to seek litigation through the courts. In this scenario, it is extremely unlikely that you will even come face-to-face with solicitors in a court of law, as most cases declined or unresolved by the Injuries Board Ireland are agreed by negotiation between solicitors representing the two parties in dispute. In the event of a workplace injury compensation claim, it would be your solicitor and a solicitor representing the company with whom your employer has an Employers Liability Insurance policy who would negotiate.
The costs for this process, and indeed all your solicitor´s fees, are paid for by your employer´s insurance company except in exceptional circumstances. If there is going to be any up-front costs involved in making a workplace injury compensation claim, your solicitor should advise you of these at an early stage of the process. But other than a €50.00 fee that is paid to the Injuries Board Ireland when you make your application, there should be no cost to you as the claimant in a case of this nature.
Workplace Injury Compensation and Third Party Capture
“Third Party Capture” happens when your employer´s insurance company approaches you after you have sustained a workplace injury with an offer of early compensation settlement. They initially offer a lower amount of compensation than you would expect to receive from the Injuries Board Ireland´s assessment with the promise of paying it to you much sooner than the nine months it generally takes for the Injuries Board Ireland to complete their process. Inasmuch as a short term injection of cash may be welcome at a time when you may still be recovering from your injuries and unable to work, it is important to remember that an insurance company´s prime concern is to make money for themselves and not your financial wellbeing.
However, contact from your employer´s insurance company is not necessarily a bad thing. It opens the door for negotiation between your solicitor – who has a much better idea of what represents a fair and adequate settlement – and the insurance company. It gives the opportunity to you to receive your full entitlement of compensation much earlier than had you waited for the Injuries Board Ireland to make their assessment. In fact, over a third of all workplace injury compensation claims are now settled in this way, and your application for compensation to the Injuries Board Ireland will be cancelled.
Whether you have been working for an employer for a long time and built up a relationship with him, or whether you are concerned about your future job prospects within the company should you sustain a workplace injury because of his negligence, you should not be put off from making a claim for personal injury compensation. Most employers will be horrified that a member of their staff has been injured and will have no objection to you claiming against their insurance policy – any opposition is more than likely to originate from the insurance company. Therefore, rather than take on the legal department of a multi-national insurance company by yourself, it makes sense to pursue a claim for workplace injury compensation with the assistance of a solicitor.
If you would like to discuss your entitlement to claim compensation for a workplace injury, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us. Even if your application form has already been submitted to the Injuries Board Ireland, or you have already been approached by your employer´s insurance company, it is not too late for a solicitor to intervene and ensure that you receive a fair and adequate compensation settlement. The various ways of contacting us are listed on our “Contact Us” page, and please bear in mind that when you phone, write or email us, your details are completely confidential and you are under no obligation to use our services once we have spoken with you.
For free expert advice on your case you can talk to us now, by calling our free phone line on , or filling in our call back form at the bottom of this page.
What can you Expect?
When you call us, you will be put through to an expert workplace injury solicitor who is very experienced in compensation claims.
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, and if there are likely to be any costs involved.
The result of the call is advice about what you should consider doing next.
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