Work accident claims

Work accident

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Work-related injuries or workplace accidents are defined as an incident in the course of work that leads to physical or mental trauma. Workplace accidents can have severe effects on a person’s mental, physical and financial state. 

If you have suffered an injury as an employee, you may be entitled to pursue personal injury legal action. Provided you can prove that the accident occurred as a result of an unsafe working environment. The type of work that an employee is hired to do and the industry they work in may have an impact on what kind of injury an employee sustains.

Accidents at work can happen in a variety of locations – an office, a building site, or even a farm. Virtually any premises that an employee is legally required to be during their working day.

What to do after an accident at work?

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Before making an employment-related claim, your priority should be to seek immediate medical attention. This is essential even for minor incidents. A minor injury could develop into a more significant health issue if not adequately assessed. 

Once you have had a medical assessment, there are several steps you will follow:

1. Report the accident to your superior

Before pursuing a work-related claim, you must notify your employer of the accident. They need to be aware of the injuries you suffered and the cause of the accident. It is advisable to get confirmation from your employer that you reported the accident, whether it is written or electronic.

2. Seek legal advice from a personal injury solicitor

Once you have reported the accident, then it is time to seek advice from a personal injury specialist solicitor. They will talk you through the next steps as to what is involved when making work-related claims.

If you do decide to take a personal injury claim, you are not obliged to tell your employer personally. Your solicitor can write to your employer and notify them of the claim.

Compensation for work accident claims

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If you cannot return to work after suffering an injury at work, you may be able to recoup financial and non-financial losses incurred as a result. These losses are called damages:

General Damages

Non-financial damages such as pain and suffering or physical and emotional damage following an accident at work.

Special Damages

Out of pocket expenses incurred as a result of the accident at work. For example, loss of earnings, medical bills, travel costs relating to the injury at work.

Please note that accident at work claims must be passed through the Injuries Board for assessment before proceeding to settlement or court.

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What is the responsibility of my employer

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The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 ensures every employer in Ireland has clear obligations to ensure the health and welfare at work of both full-time employees and agency staff. It does not matter if the workplace is a small shop or a large construction site. The employee is also expected to act responsibly and avoid intentionally putting themselves at risk of an injury. Both parties need to make an effort to avoid work hazards. 

Avoiding workplace accidents

Depending on the employee’s role, they can check below to determine whether the employer had complied with the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and provide the safest workplace possible.

An employer must:

  • Maintain a safe workplace, machinery and equipment.
  • Use appropriate measures to prevent risks that may come from the use of any article or substance and prevent risks from exposure to physical agents, noise and vibration.
  • Prevent any improper conduct or behaviour likely to put the safety, health and welfare of employees at risk.
  • Ensure that employees are always up to date with all health and safety measures needed for their role. An example of this would be manual handling courses.
  • Provide protective clothing and equipment to employees (at no cost to employees).
  • Appoint a competent person as the organisation’s Safety Officer.
  • Carry out a risk assessment for the workplace, which should identify potential hazards that could lead to a workplace accident.

In conclusion, employers have a legal duty to ensure safe operations are in place to protect their employees.

Where an accident at work occurs, an employer must report the accident to the Health and Safety Authority. Employers are legally obliged to report the accident if the worker cannot perform their duties for three consecutive days. Furthermore, it is worth noting that in this three-day count, the day of the accident is excluded.

Will my job security be affected?

Employees often worry they will lose their job if they bring a claim forward against their employer. This is not the case as job security legislation protects employees against dismissal if a claim is brought forward after a workplace accident.

Most prudent employers have employer liability insurance in place. The insurance will take an active role in the claim and often remove the personal element out of the process.