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Bringing a Claim Following an Accident or Injury at a Christmas Work Party

Christmas work party

The Christmas work party is a time to come together and celebrate the end of another year of working together, enjoy the good food, drink, and music. Inevitably, if there is alcohol involved, there will be some regrettable incidents. However, most events pass without any serious damage beyond slight awkwardness in the office the following working day. Occasionally, much more serious incidents occur at work events that cause significant harm, injury, or distress to an employee. If you have experienced such an incident, the following FAQs may be useful to you regarding your next steps.

What should I do if I have been injured at the Christmas work party?

Obviously, your first step should be to seek immediate medical attention to address your injury. As soon as you possibly can, you will then need to report the incident to your employer. Whoever is responsible for HR matters within the company will be able to advise you on your employer’s procedures regarding workplace injuries. It’s also essential to document the incident and your injury in detail, including taking photos if possible and noting any witnesses. Depending on the severity and circumstances of the injury, you may need to seek legal counsel with an experienced personal injury solicitor, especially if the injury could lead to long-term effects or if there are questions about liability and compensation.

Can an employer fire me for an incident occurring at the Christmas work party?

Yes, an employer can potentially fire you for an incident occurring at a Christmas work party, especially if the incident violates company policies or professional standards. Work parties are generally considered extensions of the workplace, so behaviour that is inappropriate or harmful in the workplace is also unacceptable at these events. However, the specifics depend on the nature of the incident and the terms of your employment contract. It’s important to familiarise yourself with your company’s code of conduct and seek legal advice if you believe you have been unfairly dismissed following an incident. An employer cannot dismiss you for sustaining an injury without breach of company policy, or for bringing an injury claim following the incident at the party.

What should I do if another employee was the cause of my injury?

Your first step will be to report this to your employer. If they caused your injury due to violating company policies or professional standards, they may be formally reprimanded or dismissed, depending on the severity of the incident and the contents of the report that you submit to your employer. If the injury you sustained was criminal in nature, you will need to report it to the Gardaí. Subsequent criminal charges may be brought against the individual. In cases of serious injury, there may be a basis for both a personal injury claim as well as criminal proceedings against those responsible for your injury.

Can I bring a personal injury claim against my employer following an injury sustained at the work party?

Yes, you can potentially bring a personal injury claim against your employer following an injury sustained at a work party, especially if the injury resulted from your employer’s negligence or failure to provide a safe environment. The viability of such a claim depends on the specific circumstances of the incident, the nature of the injury, and any breaches of employment law. Bringing a successful claim hinges on the accurate documentation of the incident, witness testimony, and clear demonstration that your employer failed to ensure your safety.

Can I bring a claim if I was under the influence of alcohol when the injury occurred?

Yes, you can still bring a claim if you were under the influence of alcohol when the injury occurred, but it may affect the outcome. Being intoxicated can complicate the claim, as it might impact assessments of negligence and liability. The specific circumstances of the incident, such as how the alcohol was provided and whether there was any employer negligence, will be crucial factors. When an injured party may have contributed to their own injury through their own negligent actions, this is referred to in legal terms as contributory negligence. If contributory negligence is established, it can reduce or sometimes completely bar the compensation you receive for your injury. The degree to which your actions contributed to the accident will be considered by a court.

What are the most common types of injuries occurring at Christmas parties where there are grounds to bring an injury claim?

Some of the most common types of injuries leading to claims include:

  • Slips, Trips, and Falls – These can occur due to wet floors, uneven surfaces, poor lighting, or obstacles. If due to negligence in maintaining a safe environment, a claim may be possible.
  • Food Poisoning – If food provided at the party is improperly prepared or stored, leading to illness.
  • Injuries from Physical Altercations – If a fight or physical altercation occurs, especially if it can be linked to negligence in supervision or security.
  • Injuries from Activities or Entertainment – If the party involves physical activities or entertainment that is improperly managed or unsafe.
  • Alcohol-Related Injuries – These can include falls or other accidents occurring due to overconsumption of alcohol, especially if alcohol is provided by the employer without proper measures.

In each case, the potential for a claim depends on the specific circumstances, including the employer’s role and responsibility in preventing such incidents.

What responsibilities do employers have in terms of keeping their employees safe at work party events?

Employers have several responsibilities to ensure employee safety at work party events. This includes:

  • Risk Assessments – Conducting a thorough risk assessment of the party venue and activities to identify and mitigate potential hazards.
  • Safe Environment – Ensuring the venue is safe and appropriate, with adequate facilities, lighting, and clear emergency exits.
  • Alcohol Management – If alcohol is served, implementing measures to manage consumption responsibly, such as providing non-alcoholic options, serving food, and arranging transportation options.
  • Behaviour Policies – Reminding employees of the company’s code of conduct and expectations regarding behaviour, including policies on harassment and violence.
  • Supervision and Security – Providing adequate supervision and security to deal with any issues that may arise.
  • Emergency Procedures – Having clear emergency procedures in place and ensuring staff are aware of them.
  • Insurance Coverage – Ensuring appropriate insurance coverage for the event.

By fulfilling these responsibilities, employers can help prevent accidents and injuries at work-related social events. Failure to meet these responsibilities will strengthen the basis of any claim made by an employee following an injury sustained at such an event.

What should I do if I have experienced sexual harassment or assault at a Christmas party?

If you’ve experienced sexual harassment or assault at a Christmas party, prioritise your safety and well-being first. Report the incident to your employer as soon as possible, as they have a responsibility to address such issues. As with other types of injury, you will need to document details of the incident and seek witness testimony, if possible. Depending on the severity of the incident, the involvement of The Garda Síochána may be necessary. Furthermore, you may wish to seek legal counsel as early as possible to ensure your rights are protected.

Experienced injury or assault at a Christmas work event?

The McCarthy + Co team is a long-established, family-run law firm specialising in medical negligence and personal injury. If you have sustained an injury at a work event due to the negligence of a third party, you may wish to explore the potential basis you have to bring a personal injury claim. Call us on 1800 390 555 and an experienced member of staff will discuss your situation and potential next steps. You can also email info@mccarthy.ie and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is a seasoned solicitor with almost 20 years of experience, specialises in personal injury and medical negligence claims, focusing particularly on high-value compensation cases. His extensive litigation experience spans Circuit Court, High Court and Supreme Court levels. John's practice involves a diverse range of cases, from personal injury and wrongful death to property damage, defective products, professional negligence and judicial reviews.

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