Occupational Injury *
Occupation Injury claims * may be sought by an employee for injuries sustained during the course of their job. These types of work injuries can be sustained in numerous ways. When they are sustained due to a failure of an employer to implement and sustain a safe working environment, provide the adequate protection needed for an employee to do their job safely or failure to adhere to health and safety regulations, an employee may be entitled to pursue a claim.
An injury at work * can be quite traumatic and have a serious impact on a person’s life. This can be down to how reliant people are on their monthly income. If you have had a workplace injury * you may need to take considerable time off work or in some cases, would have to leave work altogether, leaving you unable to earn money to support family and yourself.
While the fear and anxiety you may feel after an accident is totally understandable, there are legal remedies in place that can help you recoup any losses you may have suffered as a result of an injury caused at work. These legal remedies can help you stabilise yourself financially so that you have one less thing to worry about and can focus solely on your recovery.
Types of Occupational Injuries *
Occupational injuries * sustained during the course of a person’s job can manifest in a number of different ways. They can be heavily dependent on the job that the person carries out. These types of injuries at work can fall into a number of different categories:
1. Physical Injuries
Physical injuries sustained during the course of somebody work can be caused by a number of different scenarios:
- Repetitive Strain Injuries *: Pain felt in muscles, tendons and nerves and are caused by repetitive movement and overuse. This type of injury usually affects the forearms, elbows, wrists, hand, neck and shoulders of the employee – but is not limited to this list.
The symptoms a person experiences can range from pains and aches, stiffness, throbbing, weakness and/or cramps. These symptoms can appear faint at first but if left untreated can eventually become constant and prevent you from carrying out your work.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Numbness, tingling, weakness caused by pressure on the median nerve in the wrist. This can be brought on by work-related movement, repetitive flexing and extending of the wrist coupled with a strong grip may bring on carpal tunnel syndrome.
2. Chemical Related Injuries
Almost all employment situations can expose an employee to dangerous chemicals. More often than not chemical-related injuries are sustained by people who work in factories or locations where dangerous chemicals are used, mined or manufactured. However, office workers can also be exposed to dangerous chemicals like cleaning products and other toxic chemicals if the office is not ventilated properly.
For those who work on a daily basis with dangerous chemicals, protective work gear should be provided by their employer. Some dangerous chemicals that can cause injury to an employee at work are:
Exposure to these and other toxic chemicals can cause injury to the employee in different ways. Whether it be from skin contact, breathing in fumes or accidentally swallowing the chemicals. Common types of injuries sustained are, rashes, burns, throat and lung injuries.
3. Biological Related Injuries
Biological agents to which employees have been exposed to in the workplace include bacteria, fungi (yeast and moulds) and parasites. While some of these agents are harmless some may cause serious injury to the employee.
Exposure to such biological agents can be found in places such as laboratories or research facilities where a person is working directly with the agent and is unintentionally exposed. Other occupations that may be exposed are hospital workers who are exposed to blood-borne viruses or hospitality worker, refuse collectors, cleaners who are injured by needles (also known as needlestick injuries) and are exposed to blood-borne pathogens such as Hepatitis B, C and HIV. Farm employees who work with animal carcases may also be exposed to animal disease which can also affect humans if the correct protective gear is not provided.
Causes of Occupation Injuries *
Most occupational injuries * happen due to the incorrect or inadequate training of employees or the absence of safety measures in the workplace. For example, injury at work * can happen in the following scenarios:
- Inadaquately trained staff – for example, repetitive strain for a warehouse worker who was not given manual handling training
- Poorly maintained equipment that leads to accident injury to employee, accidental exposure to chemical or biological agents leading to an illness or injury
- Bad ventilated work areas – fumes from toxic paint in a poorly ventilated office or work environment.
Compensation awarded for these types of injuries will heavily depend on the injury sustained and the circumstances that led to the injury. Speaking with a solicitor should be your first step. They will be able to clarify for you how best to proceed. Generally, a compensation claim * will take into account the following aspects:
- Loss of earnings due to the injury
- Future loss of earnings due to the injury
- Changes to your ability to carry out your job in the future (can you return work?)
- Medical bills, care and support needed
- Future medical bills
- Travel and accommodation costs associated with the treatment for the injury
- If the injury affects your quality of life or ability to move around your own home and special equipment or care will be needed to be installed in your home
- Psychological damages as a result of the injury
Making a Claim
Step 1: Report the Accident and Injury to your Employer
It is important to follow your employers reporting procedure when you have suffered an occupational injury *. Making them aware of the injury and giving them a chance to rectify the situation as best they can will be your first step.
Step 2: Medical Records
Seeking medical attention is of utmost to you, do not leave an injury unseen to as it may escalate into a more serious injury if you do. Aside from your own personal health, medical attention is also important to your case. It will be the proof you have of your injury and also will help determine how long you will be out of work or if you can return to work. This will be helpful in determining your losses.
Step 3: Contact an Occupational Injury Solicitor *
Contacting a solicitor will be your next step if you wish to pursue a claim. They will be able to talk you through the process with ease. A solicitor will need to know the facts of your case in order to best advise you. Therefore it is important that you have the following information at hand:
- When the injury was sustained
- How the injury was sustained, i.e., Circumstances that led to the injury
- Details of your employer
- Specifics of the injury you sustained
- How the injury has affected your working and home life
- Copies of your medical records
Step 4: Injuries Board Assessment
Almost all personal injury cases * must be assessed by the Injuries Board. An application to the injuries board will be submitted on your behalf by your solicitor. The Injuries Board will then revert back with a suggested compensation amount which will lead to one of two scenarios:
- If you and your employer agree to the suggested compensation amount then your case is settled and your employer will pay you that amount. This is known as settling outside of court.
- If you or your employer do not agree to the suggested amount then legal proceedings may be issued and your case will proceed to a court hearing.
Step 5: Negotiation
If your case moves forward to legal proceedings, do not worry, your solicitor will walk you through the process and you may be happy to hear that you may not even need to set foot into a courtroom. Many cases are settled outside of court through negotiation in settlement meetings. You may attend a settlement meeting with your solicitor. They will act on your behalf with a barrister to negotiate your settlement. If an agreement is reached at this point then your case is settled and there is no need to proceed to a court hearing.
If no agreement is reached at this point, then you will proceed to a court hearing where a Judge will make a decision on your case and your case will be settled.
Who pays your compensation *?
Many people may be worried about making an accident claim * against their employer. Our advice is not to worry about it. All employers should be protected by employers liability insurance meaning that your claim will most likely be paid by their insurance company. Therefore, in a successful case, you would not be leaving your employer with a bill they cannot afford.
Occupation Injury * Legal Time Limits
The legal time limits on how long you have to make a claim vary depending on the situation. The general rule for personal injury cases * is that the person has two years from the date of the accident or date of knowledge of the injury to make a claim. For cases of occupational injury *, it may not be as black and white as the rule suggests. You may not be aware of any injury sustained or illness contracted for some time after the incident. Contacting a solicitor to discuss your case will help you in determining how long you have left to make a claim.
Contact an Occupational Injury Solicitor *
Tracey Solicitors draw on over 30 years of experience as personal injury solicitors * and have the expertise and knowledge to help you navigate the legalities of making a claim without any of the legal jargon attached to it. Our promise is to make law accessible to all. For more information call +353 1 649 9900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us about your case.