If you have suffered an injury at work it’s only natural for you to wonder whether you are entitled to make a claim*. Unlike some countries where a work-related injury automatically entitles you to compensation, in Ireland it is always a matter of looking through the circumstances that caused the injury. That almost always means it is up to the injured worker to prove that their injury was as a result of the duty of care of the employer or was due to some form of negligence.
As a rule you are entitled to compensation if the incident that caused your injury was someone else’s fault. But the parameters for establishing ‘fault’ are very broad. That said, if your injury was entirely as a result of an accident that could not have been foreseen, you would not be entitled to compensation.
However, even if it doesn’t appear on the surface that you have a case to be owed recompense, it could be the case that there was some sort of negligence on the part of your employer that means your injury could have been prevented. To establish whether you could claim damagesyou need to understand a few things, starting with what you should expect from your employer.
Understand your employer’s obligations to you
Employers are bound by both common law and health and safety legislation to ensure that workers are safe. In terms of common law, it’s is an employer’s duty to provide workers with a safe place to work, correct equipment and competent co-workers. If your injury came as a result of any of these not being present, it’s likely that you could claim compensation.
Equally, Ireland’s Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 states that employers must do everything that would be considered reasonable to ensure the health and safety of their employees. This legislation is left quite heavily to interpretation, so if you feel you have a case you should get legal advice on the matter as soon as possible.
What if you have psychological injuries?
Psychological injuries fall under the same remit as physical injuries, so if you have suffered psychological injuries as a result of an injury at work you can claim compensation for this. However, one of the challenges with psychological injuries is it is harder to prove that they came exclusively as a result of your working environment.
Conditions like post-traumatic stress or clinical depression suffered as a result of a workplace accident could be shown to correspond, but psychological injuries suffered simply as a result of conditions at work are more difficult. Nevertheless, that does not mean that you have no chance at compensation, it simply means that you would require expert legal guidance to have the best possibility of getting it.
What if you weren’t following guidelines who you got injured?
One factor that often puts people off the idea of making a compensation claim is that they may not have been working as per instructions and procedures when the incident occurred. It’s important to note that Irish law is aware that humans aren’t perfect and sometimes don’t do things exactly the way they should.
You could still be eligible for compensation if your employer was negligent, even if you were doing something incorrectly. For example if you weren’t wearing a high vis jacket in an area that demanded it, your employer still needs to follow all the other regulations to ensure you are kept from harm.
How is the amount of compensation calculated?
Calculating the compensation you might be owed can be quite complicated. In principle the idea behind the level of compensation is that it should put the victim back into the same position that they would have been in if they hadn’t suffered their injuries. As this is often isn’t practically possible, the law has to take into account issues such as loss of earnings, the cost of medical treatment, a range of other costs and compensation regarding a change in a quality of life.