Work Injury Compensation
Introduction to Work Injury Compensation
Work injury compensation claims have their own unique problems attached to them. Whereas you are fully entitled to claim work injury compensation after being injured in an accident for which your employer was to blame, many victims of work related injury are reluctant to make a work injury claim for fear of how this might affect future employment prospects or a long standing personal relationship with an employer.
Most employers will be horrified that one of their employees has sustained an injury due to their lack of care, but will be “guided” by their public liability insurance companies to dispute liability whenever possible and refrain from making admissions of responsibility. At a time when businesses are struggling in the current economic climate, an employer may have to adhere to the “advice” given to him by an insurance company – allowing a business decision to over-rule his own personal feelings.
Work Injury Compensation and the Law
There are many different laws concerning health and safety in the workplace – each designed to provide company employees with a safe environment in which to work. Your employer is governed by the regulations in these laws and among the many areas of his responsibilities are risk assessment before a task is undertaken, the provision of personal protective equipment and the training on how to correctly use it, and the monitoring and supervision of his staff.
Should your employer fail in any of his responsibilities towards you as an employee, and you sustain an injury as a result, your employment status cannot be affected if you make a work injury compensation claim. Sacking, suspending or preventing an employee from being promoted because they have made a work injury claim is against Irish Employment Law and, if your employer takes any negative action against you, he could be fined by an employment tribunal.
Your Health Comes before Work Injury Compensation
There are many different types of injury that can be sustained in the workplace – from the immediate trauma of falling from scaffolding to developing an occupational disease over many years. There are also psychological injuries which can be sustained in the workplace if you are bullied, harassed or over-stressed and an employer has a duty of care to prevent all of these events from occurring.
Your first consideration if you have a physical accident is to have a medical examination immediately. In the most severe cases, and ambulance would be summoned and you would be taken to hospital but, even when you feel that you have sustained only minor injuries, you should still seek a medical opinion. Some injuries may not manifest immediately, and you could aggravate a condition by continuing to work through the pain.
Work Injury Compensation Procedures
Once you have been diagnosed with a work related injury, you should inform your employer and have them make a record of your injury in their “Accident Report Book”. Whenever possible, you should also collect details of colleagues who would support your work injury compensation claim or who know of other occurrences, similar to yours, which have caused a work injury. This information will be relevant irrespective of whether you are making a claim for work injury compensation after sustaining a manual handling injury, suffering from a repetitive strain injury or had been victimised because of your race.
Thereafter, it is in your best interests to discuss your work injury compensation claim with a solicitor. By using a solicitor to assist you with your work injury claim, you remove the potential of an awkward workplace confrontation when you return to work, and can also establish at an early stage how much work injury compensation you could be entitled to – valuable information that will help you make important decisions later in the work injury compensation process.
Applying for Work Injury Compensation
Applications for work injury compensation are initially made to the Injuries Board Ireland. You will need to submit a medical form from your doctor and a copy of the entry in the “Accident Report Book” with your application and, on receipt, the Injuries Board Ireland will acknowledge your application for work injury compensation and seek consent from your employer to proceed with the assessment. Once this consent has been received, the Injuries Board Ireland may require that you attend a further medical examination to assess the extent of your injuries and how long it may take you to recover from them.
Thereafter, they will assess your injuries against the Book of Quantum – a publication which lists injuries and awards values of work injury compensation according to the severity of the injury and the length of time it may take to heal – and issue you and your employer with a Notice of Assessment. This “Notice” advises you of how much work injury compensation the Injuries Board Ireland feels you should receive, and if both parties agree on the amount, they then issue a Notice to Pay instructing your employer to settle the work injury compensation claim.
Work Injury Compensation and Litigation
Should your employer deny their liability for your injury, or claim that you contributed to the injury through your own negligence; the Injuries Board Ireland will decline to assess your work injury claim. Instead they will issue you with an authorisation to pursue your claim through the courts. This may also happen if either you or your employer disputes how much work injury compensation has been assessed by the Injuries Board Ireland. In these instances, you will need legal representation – although if you have already contacted a solicitor and used his assistance during your application for work injury compensation, he will be up to speed with your work injury claim.
Courts look down on work injury compensation claims where liability is not in doubt and only the amount of work injury compensation is in dispute, and your solicitor will try to negotiate an adequate settlement with the legal representatives of your employer’s insurance company. He will also attempt to resolve issues surrounding liability in order to avoid litigation through the court system, although he will still use this method of obtaining an appropriate work injury compensation settlement if every other approach fails.
Work Injury Compensation and Special Damages
One of the areas in which it is important that you seek professional legal advice is the special damages to which you are entitled. Special damages are the “out of pocket” expenses you incur due to your injury and, for the majority of people making a work injury compensation claim, special damages may amount to the cost of a few trips to hospital or the cost of specialised treatment. For others however, they may have to cover the cost of adapting your home for wheelchair access or compensate for a lifetime of lost earnings when the extent of your injury means that you may never work again.
In some claims for work injury compensation, special damages can amount to more than the general damages you receive for the initial injury. This is an important consideration if you are directly approached by your employer’s insurance company with an offer of early settlement of your work injury claim. Offers by insurance companies are usually designed to accommodate their own financial interests, rather than yours, but their approach is not necessarily a bad thing as it will open the door for your solicitor to negotiate a fair and adequate work injury compensation settlement – sometimes even before the Injuries Board Ireland has made their assessment.
Work Injury Compensation Summary
Work injury compensation claims have to be handled very delicately at a time when emotions may be running high and there are unnecessary disputes over liability. You should focus on giving priority to your health and instruct a solicitor to act on your behalf as soon as treatment has been administered. A solicitor will assist you in making a comprehensive work injury claim and advise you how much work injury compensation you should receive – important factors if you want to receive your maximum entitlement of work injury compensation. Should issues arise over who is liable for your injury, or how much one party is willing to pay, your solicitor will be able to resolve any problems through negotiation or litigation.
One point not mentioned above is the Statute of Limitations – the length of time in which you are allowed to make a work injury compensation claim after you have been diagnosed with a work injury. This is limited to two years from the “date of knowledge” of an injury (not necessarily the date on which it happened) and although it may appear like a long time, you should not delay in contacting a solicitor. Some claims for work injury compensation may take a lot of investigation in order for a solicitor to construct the strongest possible work injury claim on your behalf.