Making a Claim Following a Workplace Accident
Workplace accident claims* are made by employees that have proven that the accident in question was a direct result of negligence at the hands of employers/employees. It must be noted that an accident may only be deemed as a workplace accident as long as the employee is legally required to be on the premises in question during the course of their working day. It is important to note whether the environment of which the accident took place was unfit or hazardous, even in the case of human error, on top of this, details of the accident must be factual, clear and concise when claiming against an employer. Before any legal proceedings are taken into consideration it is important to get your injuries assessed (both minor and major) by a medical professional.
Before bringing a claim forward, employees must not worry about their position within their place of work. You will not lose your job upon taking legal action against your employees as the job security legislation protects employees against dismissal if a claim is brought forward after a workplace injury.
Most well-advised employers already have something called employers liability insurance plans in case of employee accidents occurring. This means that the employer’s insurance companies take over and look at the case from an early stage, which can be beneficial for both parties involved and takes away the more ‘personal’ elements surrounding the legal proceedings and incident in question.
Communicating and Reporting the Accident
It is important to notify your manager at work that an accident has occurred. You must inform your manager of the injuries that you have suffered and the cause of the accident. Be calm and collected when having a discussion with your manager as it is important that details with regards to the event that have taken place are stated correctly. It is advisable to write down clearly a step by step account of the incident before discussing the accident with a manager to aid you in your communication and to clear your thoughts. It is also advisable for you to seek confirmation from your superiors that you have reported the accident, whether it is written or electronic. In reflection give your employer a chance to accept responsibility for the accident that has taken place. It is important that you and your employer have an honest breakdown and discussion of what has occurred, to assist in legal proceedings.
Once reported your employer is obliged to report the accident to the Health and Safety Authority once you have missed 3 consecutive days at work (not including the day of the accident).
Checking your Pay Entitlements
You should also take some time to check if you have any entitlement to sick pay. Check the terms and conditions of your contract. In general, employees do not have any entitlement to sick pay under Irish employment law, however, some employers will allow a certain amount of paid sick leave and this will be listed in your contract.
If you are out sick for a long period of time because of the accident, it is work checking your social welfare entitlements. You can do so on the citizen’s information website.
Employers Liability Insurance
Your employer may have taken out Employers liability insurance cover which will enable your employer to meet the cost of your workplace injury claim*.
Contact a Solicitor
It is important that you seek advice from a workplace injury solicitor*. If you do decide to continue with legal proceedings, you are not obliged to personally tell your employer. Your solicitor can write to your employer to notify them of any legal proceedings being made on your behalf. Sometimes you may be inclined to tell your employer that a solicitor will be in touch however, it is advisable to leave this to the legal representatives.
Accidents in the workplace* are usually voidable inconveniences. There are obligations on every employer in Ireland (Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005), no matter the size of the company. This ensures that the interest of employee’s health and safety at work is taken as far as possible to avoid accidents and personal injury*.
It goes without saying that the employee is expected to act responsibly within the workplace to avoid intentionally putting themselves at risk of an injury. Therefore, there must be an understanding and synergy between employees and employers to minimise hazards at work to subsequently avoid accidents in the workplace*.