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A Complete Guide to Bringing a Workplace Accident Claim

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If you have been injured in the workplace, forced to take time off work due to your injury, and incurred personal and financial costs as a result, you are likely to be wondering what compensation you may be entitled to and how to go about securing it. In the following guide, we review the key steps involved in bringing a successful claim, and the importance of seeking expert legal counsel throughout the process.

Key steps required to bring your claim

The number of steps required to bring a successful workplace accident claim depends on whether you and your employer can reach an agreement out of court. If you can reach an agreement without court intervention, there are seven key steps to follow. For claims pursued via the courts, there are eight or nine key steps. These are as follows.

  1. Seek medical attention – Immediately after the accident, it’s crucial to seek medical attention to ensure that any injuries are properly treated and documented. This medical record will serve as evidence in your claim.
  2. Report the accident – Notify your employer about the accident as soon as possible. They are required to record the incident in the workplace accident report book. Failing to report the accident promptly could affect the success of your claim.
  3. Document the accident – Gather as much evidence as possible. This can include taking photographs of the accident scene, obtaining witness statements, and keeping a record of any related expenses, such as medical bills and lost wages.
  4. Consult a solicitor – Engage a solicitor who specialises in personal injury and accident at work claims. They can provide guidance on the process, help gather necessary evidence, and ensure that your claim is filed correctly and within the legal time limits.
  5. File a claim with the Injuries Resolution Board (formerly PIAB) – Most personal injury claims must first be submitted to the Injuries Board. You can submit an application online or by post, including details of the accident, injuries, and supporting documents. The board assesses claims and can provide an independent assessment of the compensation due.
  6. Injuries Resolution Board assessment – The board will review the evidence and may request further medical assessments. They will then issue an assessment of the amount of compensation they believe is appropriate.
  7. Accept or reject the Injuries Resolution Board assessment – Both you and your employer (or their insurance company) can either accept or reject the board’s assessment. If both parties accept, the compensation is paid, and the claim is settled. If either party rejects the assessment, you may proceed to court.
  8. Proceeding to court – If the Injuries Resolution Board’s assessment is rejected, you will need to pursue your claim through the courts. Your solicitor will handle the legal process, which involves submitting a formal legal claim and potentially going to trial if a settlement is not reached beforehand.
  9. Settlement or court judgment – The majority of cases are settled out of court, but if your case goes to trial, the court will hear the evidence and make a judgment on the compensation you should receive.

Below we have documented further detailed considerations regarding each of these key steps.

Seeking medical attention

Medical records are essential for bringing successful workplace accident claims. These records serve as crucial evidence to support the claim and help in the assessment of compensation by the Injuries Resolution Board, previously known as the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB), or the courts.

It is important to remember that at a later stage in the process your medical records may be required should the case proceed to trial. Therefore it is important that all of your injuries are documented accurately. It is also sensible to keep copies of any reports from X-rays, MRIs etc. as any medical professional retained by the Board will wish to see these.

If the injury has caused psychological effects, reports from psychologists or psychiatrists detailing the mental health impact and treatments recommended are essential. Reports that outline any anticipated future medical treatments or surgeries and assessments of how the injury affects daily activities and work-related tasks, including potential long-term disabilities, are crucial.

Comprehensive records from your GP are also needed, providing an overview of your health before and after the accident, helping to distinguish pre-existing conditions from injury-related issues.

These medical records are critical in establishing the extent of the injuries, the treatments required, and the impact it has had on your life. They form the basis for calculating the appropriate amount of compensation for medical expenses, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and other related costs. When submitting a claim to the Injuries Resolution Board, a medical report from the treating doctor is a mandatory requirement. If the case proceeds to court, all medical records will be necessary to substantiate the claim and support the evidence presented.

Reporting the accident

When an accident occurs in the workplace, it is essential that you notify your employer as soon as possible. Initially, you should inform your supervisor or manager, either verbally or in writing. Subsequently, a written report detailing the incident must be prepared. This report should include the date, time, and location of the accident, a detailed description of the incident, names of any witnesses, a description of the injury sustained, and any immediate actions taken following the accident. It is important that all the information in the Incident Report Form is accurate and complete before you sign it. If there are any errors, you should insert your own notes in relation to this. If any portion of the report is blank, you should ask that it is completed before you sign it or draw a line through that section to avoid information being inserted after you sign the form. Naturally, you cannot amend another person’s witness statement, but you can insert your own comments countering an inaccuracy that they have provided.

If you have had to take time off work due to your injury, you will need to provide your employer with the medical report from the doctor who first treated your injury. Remember, your employer also has a duty to report the accident if it results in your being unable to perform normal work duties for three consecutive days after the accident (excluding the day of the accident).

Your employer’s obligations following your report

Specific types of workplace incidents must be reported to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) as mandated by the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005. These incidents include fatalities, where any accident resulting in the death of an employee must be reported immediately, and serious injuries, which incapacitate an employee from performing their normal work for more than three consecutive days. Serious injuries encompass fractures, amputations, loss of sight (temporary or permanent), serious burns, and any injury leading to unconsciousness or requiring resuscitation. Additionally, dangerous occurrences that might not result in injury but have significant harm potential, such as the collapse or overturning of scaffolding, failure of pressure systems, explosions or fires causing structural damage, unintended release of a biological agent, building collapses, and incidents involving overhead cranes or lifting equipment, must also be reported.

Occupational diseases diagnosed by a medical practitioner, including occupational dermatitis, asthma, work-related musculoskeletal disorders, infections like leptospirosis, hepatitis, tuberculosis, and respiratory diseases such as pneumoconiosis, silicosis, and asbestosis, must be reported. Workplace illnesses caused by exposure to hazardous substances, such as chemical poisoning, carcinogens, mutagens, or other toxic agents, and significant exposure to biological agents that could result in severe illness, particularly involving unintended release, also require reporting.

Employers can report incidents to the HSA through their online system, by phone, or by submitting a completed IR1 form. Timely and accurate reporting helps the HSA monitor workplace safety trends, investigate causes, and implement preventive measures, ensuring compliance with legal obligations and maintaining a safe work environment.

Documenting the accident

To support a workplace accident claim, you will need to gather various types of documentation beyond medical records. This additional evidence can strengthen your case and help demonstrate the circumstances and impact of the accident. The following documentation can help to strengthen your case and ensure you receive the full compensation owed to you for your injuries.

Incident reports

It’s important to ensure that the official workplace accident report form is completed accurately and comprehensively. This form typically includes details about the accident, witnesses, and immediate actions taken. Additionally, if the employer conducts an internal investigation, obtaining a copy of this report can be valuable as it may include findings about the cause of the accident and any corrective actions recommended or taken.

Witness statements

Collecting written statements from colleagues who witnessed the accident can significantly strengthen your claim. These statements should include details about what they saw, heard, and their perspective on the incident. Similarly, statements from supervisors or managers present at the time of the accident can provide an official account of the incident and the immediate response.

Photographic and video evidence

Photographic evidence of the accident scene is crucial. Taking photographs of the scene, including any hazards, equipment involved, and the overall environment, is particularly valuable, especially if taken immediately after the accident. If there is CCTV or other video footage capturing the accident, requesting a copy from the employer is highly advisable.

Maintenance and safety records

Obtaining records showing the maintenance history of any equipment involved in the accident can be crucial. These logs can indicate whether the equipment was properly maintained and in good working order. Additionally, collecting records of safety inspections conducted in the area where the accident occurred can highlight any previously identified hazards and the steps taken to address them.

Employment records

Providing evidence of your work schedule can demonstrate that you were on duty at the time of the accident. Including documentation of any training you received related to the job or safety procedures can show whether you were adequately prepared to handle the tasks involved.

Communications

Saving any relevant emails or other correspondence related to the accident, including communications with your employer, safety officers, or insurance companies, is important. Additionally, including any letters or notices you received regarding the accident, such as notifications of investigations or meetings to discuss the incident, can be useful.

Personal records

Maintaining a personal diary or log of events following the accident, detailing your symptoms, medical appointments, and impact on daily life and work, can help demonstrate the ongoing impact of the injury. Keeping receipts and records of any expenses incurred as a result of the accident, such as medical bills, transportation costs to medical appointments, and costs for any assistive devices or modifications needed at home, can also support your claim.

By gathering this comprehensive documentation, you can build a strong case for your compensation claim, demonstrating not only the occurrence and impact of the accident but also the employer’s role and response. If you are having difficulty obtaining documentation to support your claim, your solicitor can assist in obtaining it for you.

Consulting a solicitor

Choosing the right solicitor to help with your workplace accident claim is crucial and involves several important considerations. First, ensure the solicitor specialises in personal injury law, particularly workplace accidents, as this expertise is vital for understanding the relevant laws and procedures. Look for a solicitor with a proven track record of success in similar cases, and check client testimonials and reviews to gauge their reputation. Clear communication is essential; your solicitor should explain legal terms in a way you can understand and keep you informed about your case’s progress. Accessibility is important, so ensure the solicitor is responsive to your needs and available for consultations.

During the initial consultation, which many solicitors offer for free, assess whether the solicitor is a good fit for your needs and ask any preliminary questions you might have. It’s important that you feel comfortable with and trust the solicitor dealing with your case, as a good working relationship is important for a successful outcome. Check if the solicitor is accredited by relevant legal bodies and is a member of professional organisations, indicating a commitment to high professional standards. By considering these factors, you can select a solicitor who is well-equipped to handle your workplace accident claim effectively. At McCarthy + Co Solicitors LLP, our personal injury team consistently achieves very high scores in the Q9000 Legal Quality Standard. We’d be happy to discuss your case, completely free of charge at the initial consultation, to determine if we can help you and if we are a good fit to work with one another.

Filing a claim with the Injuries Resolution Board

After reporting and documenting your accident, and consulting with a solicitor, you will need to file a claim with the Injuries Resolution Board. To file your claim, the first step is to notify your employer (the respondent) of your intention to claim. It is important that you do this within one month of the accident. If you have not done so and it is more than a month since your accident you should contact your solicitor without delay so they can advise the appropriate action and take the appropriate action to protect your claim. This notification should be in writing. After notifying the respondent, you need to submit your claim to the Board, which can be done online, via email, or by post. Your application must include your personal details, a detailed description of the accident and resulting injuries, a medical report, and any relevant supporting documentation. A fee must be paid, which varies depending on the method of submission.

Once the Injuries Resolution Board receives your application, they inform the respondent, who then has 90 days to consent to the Board assessing the claim. If the respondent consents, the Board proceeds with the assessment, which typically takes up to nine months. During this time, the Board reviews medical reports and the specifics of the injury to determine an appropriate compensation amount. If the respondent does not consent, or if the claim cannot be resolved through the Board’s processes, you will receive an authorisation to take your claim to court. The Board also offers mediation services as an alternative dispute resolution method.

Whilst it is not mandatory, it is advisable to consult a solicitor prior to lodging your claim. This is particularly important if your case is complex and requires extensive supporting documentation. Your solicitor can help ensure that your claim is filed correctly, with the appropriate documentation, and within the legal time limits.

The Injuries Board’s assessment

The assessment by the Injuries Resolution Board involves gathering evidence from both parties, including medical reports from your doctor and, in some circumstances, an independent medical examination arranged by the board itself. The board may also request additional documentation or evidence, such as witness statements, incident reports, or maintenance records related to the accident, highlighting the importance of the documentation-gathering stage of the process.

The board will review the medical evidence and will request further medical assessments and details of your out of pocket expenses (special damages). You will need receipts to prove your special damages where available. Assessors involved in your case will follow the information set out in the Judicial Council’s Personal Injuries Guidelines, which provides standardised compensation amounts for various types of injuries. Once the board has completed its assessment, both you (the claimant) and your employer (the respondent) receive a Notice of Assessment outlining the determined compensation amount based on the injuries and circumstances of the case.

Accepting or rejecting the Injuries Resolution Board’s assessment

When the Injuries Resolution Board issues your Notice of Assessment, you have 28 days to decide whether to accept or reject the award. If you accept, you must confirm this in writing to the board. If you do not respond within 28 days, it is assumed that you have rejected the assessment. The respondent has 21 days to accept or reject the assessment, and if they do not reply within this period, it is taken that they have accepted the assessment.

If both parties accept the assessment, the board will issue an Order to Pay, requiring the respondent to pay the awarded amount. However, if either party rejects the assessment, the board will provide an Authorisation, allowing the claimant to take the case to court. It’s important to keep in mind that if the court awards a lower amount than the board, you will generally have to cover the respondent’s legal costs in addition to your own. This is another reason why is so vital to seek expert counsel with an experienced personal injury solicitor as early in the process as possible.

Proceeding to court

You can take your case to court if the respondent does not agree with the Injuries Resolution Board assessing the claim, does not agree with the amount of compensation, or fails to pay the agreed amount of compensation. Additionally, if you do not agree with the amount of compensation awarded by the Board, you can also pursue legal action. In these circumstances, you will need to wait for the board to provide Authorisation, then seek legal advice before proceeding.

In civil cases, the court usually awards costs to the winning party, meaning if your case is successful, the court will order the respondent to pay your legal fees. However, there are exceptions in personal injury cases. If you went to court because you disagreed with the compensation amount awarded by the board, but the respondent agreed with it, and the court awards less than that amount, you will usually still pay the respondent’s costs. Additionally, you may be ordered to pay costs if you did not comply with the board’s requests, such as failing to provide requested information or attend a medical examination. Not informing the respondent of your intention to take a personal injury case within one month of the accident could also affect your claim for legal costs.

Settlement or court judgement

In Ireland, most workplace accident claims are settled out of court. This is achieved through direct negotiations between the parties’ legal representatives or through the Injuries Resolution Board. Settlements often occur before the trial date or even hours before it is scheduled to begin.

Only a small percentage of claims proceed to court. These typically involve cases where there is significant dispute over liability, the compensation amount is not agreed upon, or complex legal or factual issues need to be resolved. In these scenarios, it is vital to consult with an experienced personal injury solicitor to maximise your chances of a successful outcome.

Require assistance bringing a workplace accident claim?

At McCarthy + Co Solicitors LLP, our personal injury team has a long and successful history of helping employees who have sustained injuries in the workplace secure appropriate compensation for their pain, suffering, and the expenses they have incurred. If you have been injured at work and you’d to speak to a qualified solicitor about your case, send us an email at info@mccarthy.ie, call us on the number on this page, or send us a message using our confidential form and we will get back to you.

Liam Crowley

Liam, with his expertise in litigation and court work, primarily supports John in handling personal injury and medical negligence claims. His passion for criminal law stems from his initial years in a bustling Dublin city centre criminal law practice, where he gained ample experience appearing before the District and Circuit Courts in the Criminal Courts of Justice and Clover Hill, in Blanchardstown and Tallaght District Courts and in High Court bail and judicial review matters.

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