People who work in dangerous professions are at risk of being involved in an accident in the workplace that could leave them seriously injured, but if you work in an office, you too could sustain a personal injury and if you do, you could be entitled to file for compensation even if you are partly or fully responsible for the accident happening.
However, just because you are involved in an accident in the workplace that leaves you injured, whether your injury is minor or more severe, it does not necessarily mean you can claim compensation because you must be able to prove that the incident occurred through no fault of your own. With this said, there are instances where you may be able to file for compensation even if you were partly or fully responsible for the accident and these are detailed in this article. To find out more, please read on.
What Happens When I am Responsible or Partly Responsible for the Accident?
Accidents can happen through error on the part of an employee whether an incident happens because they lost control of a forklift truck which collided with another work colleague leaving them injured or because an employee was not given sufficient training to work on specialist equipment and machinery which resulted in an incident that left them injured.
If, however, you were tasked to drive a forklift and had not been given the correct certified training to do so which meant you had not gained the necessary qualifications whether RTITB, ITSAAR, ALLMI, NPORS or AITT, and you caused an accident that left you injured, you could be entitled to file for compensation against a negligent employer and the same can be said if you were responsible for an accident because you were not trained to use specific machinery or equipment in the workplace. The reason being that all employers have a duty of care towards you and must ensure you are fully qualified to carry out specific jobs in the workplace. Employers by law must also abide by all Health and Safety regulations.
How is Blame Established for a Work-related Accident?
All employees and employers must by law adhere to regulations as set out by the Health & Safety at Work Act. As such, employers must do their best to ensure the workplace is safe and employees must ensure they act responsibly which means they do not put other workers or colleagues at risk of being injured through any sort of reckless behaviour. Employers must ensure that you as an employee are given sufficient training to do your job, work machinery or equipment and they must provide the necessary protective work wear for the job you are employed to do and this applies to all employees in the workplace. This includes full time, part time and other staff that may be employed on a temporary basis.
If you were not given sufficient training or an employer did not provide the right protective wear for you to carry out your job and you were involved in an accident that left you injured and which prevented you from working, you could be entitled to file for compensation providing you can prove that the accident occurred because you were not sufficiently trained or given the proper protective work wear to carry out your job.
If you were trained to use a machine or specialist equipment and you caused an accident because your employer failed to maintain the equipment you were working on in good working order, you could also be entitled to file for compensation should you suffer an injury that prevents you from working. The reason being that your employer could be held negligent in their duty to keep you safe by correctly servicing and maintaining workplace machinery and equipment as set out by the manufacturers guidelines. However, because work-related personal injury claims of this nature tend to be complex affairs, it is best to seek legal advice as soon as possible, bearing in mind there is a 3 year time limit attached to this type of claim which although sounds like a long time, the amount of evidence and proof you would need to gather can be a long drawn out process.
Situations Where You Would Be Entitled to Compensation if You Caused the Accident
If your employer tells you to work in an area other than your normal work activity and you have no experience in your new role which leads to you being involved in an accident that leaves you injured, you may be entitled to file a personal injury claim for compensation against your employer whether you sustained a minor or more severe injury that prevents you from working for any length of time.
Your employer must provide you with a safe environment to work in. They must also ensure the following:
- That you are given sufficient training for the job you are tasked to do
- That you have enough experience to carry out a job, work on specialised equipment and machinery
- That you have the necessary qualifications and experience to operate machinery in the workplace
- That you abide by an employer’s best practices and procedures
- That you adhere to all Health and Safety regulation while carrying out your duties in the workplace
- That you are given the correct protective wear when carrying out your job
- That you work on correctly maintained equipment and machinery that is in good working order
If an employer fails in any of the above and you suffer any sort of injury, you could be entitled to file a personal injury claim against them. However, it is always better to seek legal advice so a personal injury solicitor can assess your claim and establish whether you have a strong enough case against your employer for your claim to be successful, even if you were partly or fully responsible for the incident occurring.
Instances When It is Hard to Establish Liability
There are instances where it can be harder to prove liability which is especially true when it comes to work-related illnesses and diseases. This includes mesothelioma and lung cancer both of which are asbestos related diseases that employees may develop when working in certain work environments. The reason being that there is typically some doubt as to who should be held responsible for the fact you may have contracted an asbestos related disorder or disease like mesothelioma.
It could be because your job involved working with asbestos or because asbestos was used by a company or a workshop situated close to your place of employment. The problem then arises when trying to identify who may be held responsible more especially as the symptoms of an asbestos related disease can typically manifest a few years further down the line.
Another issue that can blur liability in personal injury claims that involve accidents at work is referred to as “contributory negligence” and although less clear cut in work-related accidents that leave you injured, a judge would assess whether you, as an employee, “acted reasonably” when taking a “risk” while carrying out a job. A court would also take into consideration the following:
- Your age
- Your experience
There would be different standards applied to an employee with more experience and who is older than a younger employee who has less experience at carrying out a specific job. With this said, should an employee show a “reckless disregard” when it comes to their safety, ignoring an employer’s best practices and procedures, a court could well rule that “contributory negligence” played a key role in the fact an accident occurred. If this is the case, the amount of compensation you may be awarded could be greatly reduced as stated in Section 1 of the Law Reform (Contributory Negligence) Act 1945.
Getting Legal Help When You Caused a Work-related Accident
As previously touched upon, work-related personal injury claims can be complex legal affairs more especially if you were partly or fully responsible for an accident that left you injured. However, if you feel that you could be entitled to file for compensation, discussing your case with a legal expert would establish whether you have grounds to do so.
There is a time limit of 3 years associated with personal injury claims and as such it is best to seek legal advice as early as possible to reduce the risk of running out of time. A solicitor who specialises in this type of claim would assess whether you have grounds to file a claim against your employer because they were negligent in their duty of care and would typically offer you an initial free consultation to do so.
Once a solicitor has heard your case and believes you have a strong reason to file for compensation, they would offer to work with you on a No Win No Fee basis, taking all the financial worries of funding legal representation off the table. Working with a solicitor who is well-versed in work-related personal injury law also ensures you do not fall foul of the strict time limit.
You would sign a Conditional Fee Agreement with the firm of solicitors you choose to work with which sets out the agreed percentage in a binding legal contract. However, you would only have to pay the agreed fee when a court rules in your favour. The amount you pay for your legal representation would be deducted directly from the amount you are awarded by the court. In short, you would never be “out of pocket” at any stage of the process.