Advice for clients who are injured as a result of a workplace accident
Many people believe that where they are injured at work, they have an automatic right to compensation. This is not the case and from our experience, the vast majority of cases involving employer’s liability are contested.
An injured employee will be entitled to compensation only where they can prove fault, or negligence, on the part of their employer and further, where they can establish that they suffered an injury due to this negligence.
Employers’ duties largely fall within the following categories:
- Duty to provide a safe system of work
- Duty to provide competent co-workers
- Duty to provide safe equipment
- Duty to provide a safe place of work
In most cases; an employer’s negligence may be established by a failure to comply with one, or more, of these duties.
It is vitally important that an employee who has been injured as a result of a workplace accident, seeks legal advice urgently, where possible. Cases are won, or lost, in the preparation.
A Solicitor experienced in the area of personal injuries law will gather the necessary information to ensure the best possible outcome for their client. They will work closely with a team of experts from other professions, to include engineers and doctors, to ensure that the story of the accident is portrayed accurately and correctly.
Early intervention from your Solicitor is necessary to ensure that important evidence is preserved pending inspection by the relevant personnel, at a later stage. This may prove vita. For example, if the cause of the injury was due to a defective machine, it would be imperative that an Engineer be instructed to carry out an inspection of the machine in question at an early stage, before the machine has been repaired.
Many injured employees never seek legal advice because they are led to believe that they have no entitlement to compensation because to some extent, the accident was caused by their own actions. For example, perhaps they failed to call for the assistance of a co-worker to lift a heavy load, or they failed to employ the proper manual handling techniques when lifting and subsequently, they suffered a back injury. It is so important that legal advice is sought in such situations, because even if the injured employee bears some responsibility for the misfortune that befell them, that does not necessarily mean that their claim for compensation will fail. An experienced personal injuries Solicitor will advise you regarding the strengths of your case following an initial consultation.
The legal procedure regarding accidents involving employer’s liability is the same as that involved in any other personal injuries case.
A person has two years from the date of injury to lodge an application with the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB). Notwithstanding this two-year time limit, it is important not to leave it to the last minute to instruct your Solicitor, because as well as for the reasons referred to above, your application to PIAB will need to be accompanied by a medical report detailing your injuries, condition and prognosis and it can take some time for such a report to be prepared.
When calculating this two-year period in respect of workplace injuries, the situation can be somewhat complicated. Obviously, where the injury is acute in nature and arises as a result of an accident, it will be easy to calculate this two-year period. However, employees regularly present to us complaining of injuries which have worsened over a period of time due to an unsafe system of work; for example, a factory worker, who performs a repetitive type of task without appropriate rest breaks might begin to experience a nagging shoulder pain which deteriorates over time, before ultimately being diagnosed with a rotator cuff injury. The two-year period for the initiating of a personal injuries claim in those circumstances is deemed to run from the date when the injury was deemed to have become ‘significant’. There is no legal definition for when an injury becomes significant and accordingly, it is essential that legal advice is sought as a matter of priority in such cases.
Once the necessary medico-legal report has been obtained, an application will be made to PIAB. PIAB has three months to decide whether to assess damages. If the claim is assessed, generally speaking, the assessment period takes a further nine months. During this time, a claimant will be seen by doctor(s) instructed by PIAB and will be required to furnish details of ‘out of pocket expenses’, to include GP visit fees, surgery costs, loss of earnings details etc. PIAB will issue an assessment of damages which they believe represents fair compensation for the injuries suffered. If this assessment is accepted by both parties, an Order to Pay issues and the employer pays the injured party the amount specified in the Order to Pay.
If the assessment of damages is rejected by either party, an Authorisation will issue and court proceedings can be issued thereafter. Court proceedings will obviously also be necessary to progress an injured employee’s case where PIAB decline to make an assessment of damages at the outset.
If you have been injured as a result of workplace accident, please contact Cantillons Solicitors to arrange a consultation with one of our experienced litigation Solicitors, who can advise you further.
“In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.”
Jody is a Partner in our Litigation Department.
Having graduated from University College Cork in 2009, Jody completed his apprenticeship with a top litigation defence firm in Cork City and qualified as a Solicitor in 2014.
Prior to joining Cantillons Solicitors in 2016, Jody worked for a leading Dublin firm, specialising in the area of commercial litigation and dispute resolution. There he gained valuable experience in defending and prosecuting high end, large scale commercial disputes before the Commercial Court.