Category: Injury at Work Ireland

If you sustain an injury at work in Ireland for which you are not wholly to blame, you may be entitled to claim compensation. Many work injuries in Ireland are avoidable, and when an employer´s lack of care has resulted in a loss, an injury or the deterioration of an existing condition, you should speak with a solicitor about making a compensation claim. One of the major benefits of seeking professional legal advice is that the Injuries Board application for assessment provides little opportunity for you to express how your injury has affected your quality of life – are area which could substantially increase how much compensation for an injury at work in Ireland you are entitled to receive. Therefore you are invited to discuss the circumstances of your injury at work in Ireland with an experienced solicitor on our freephone Solicitors Advisory Panel.

Farmyard Fall Injury Compensation Claim Settled at Hearing

A man who lost his senses of taste and smell in a farmyard accident has settled his farmyard fall injury compensation claim at a hearing of the High Court.

Con Oxley from Cullahill in County Laois was preparing to install light fittings at a barn on a farm in nearby Ballacolla when, on 11 August 2008, a plank suspended between two boxes cracked as he stepped onto it.

Con fell 2.5 metres (eight feet) onto the floor of the barn owned by farmer Mark Quigley, hitting his head on the floor of the barn and suffering brain damage. In addition to losing his senses of taste and smell in the accident, Con lost partial sight in his left eye.

After seeking legal advice, Con made a farmyard fall injury compensation claim against Quigley – alleging that the planks he had been provided with to navigate the barn had been unsuitable for the job and that Quigley had failed to provide any form of intermediate support beneath the planks to ensure his safety.

Quigley denied that he was responsible for Con´s injuries and the Injuries Board issued an authorisation so that Con could pursue his farmyard fall injury compensation claim through the courts. However, before a date for a hearing could be set, liability was agreed on a 50/50 basis – with Con agreeing to a €300,000 compensation settlement without an admission of liability from Quigley.

At the High Court, Mr Justice Kevin Cross said the agreement was a good one in the circumstances. Had Con´s farmyard fall injury compensation claim gone to a full hearing, the judge said, Con´s contributory negligence for failing to inspect the planks would have been called into question. Judge Cross approved the settlement and closed the case.

Daughter Successful in Claim for Death due to Exposure to Asbestos

The daughter of a man who died from mesothelioma cancer has successfully made a claim for death due to exposure to asbestos against two companies who previously employed her father.  

In December 2013, seventy-three year old Peter McCormack from Whickham in Tyne and Wear died from mesothelioma cancer – eighteen months after being diagnosed with the disease. Before he passed away, Peter had started a compensation claim for exposure to asbestos against two of his previous employers, and this was carried on by his daughter Elke after his death.

In the claim for death due to exposure to asbestos, it was alleged that the two employers failed to protect Peter from inhaling asbestos dust and fibres in the workplace, and it was due to the employers´ negligence that he developed the disease and died so quickly after it had been diagnosed.

In the claim against EON UK – for whom Peter worked as an apprentice and mechanical fitter – it was claimed that Peter worked alongside laggers who mixed up asbestos without any protection before applying it to pipes and other fittings.

The claim for death due to exposure to asbestos also named OSG Ship Management as being negligent, as Peter had worked as an engineer aboard the company´s ships – repairing pipes that had been lagged with asbestos. It was also alleged that there was asbestos dust on surfaces of the ships which, when disturbed, entered the atmosphere and was inhaled by company´s employees.

After a prolonged period of negotiation, the claim for death due to exposure to asbestos was eventually resolved, with insurers for the two companies agreeing to a six-figure settlement. The settlement will be shared by Elke and her sister Natalie, who said: “Hopefully, this settlement will highlight to employers the need to protect people from exposure to asbestos, so other families do not have to watch their loved ones deteriorate so quickly.”

Elke commented “My dad was always an extremely active man, spending his time mountaineering, walking and cycling, but after his diagnosis his health deteriorated rapidly and was unable to do the things he enjoyed so much. The diagnosis also caused him severe distress and anxiety for his future”.

Compensation for Fatal Farm Accident Agreed before Court Hearing

A family´s claim for compensation for a fatal farm accident was resolved shortly before a hearing into the case was about to commence at the High Court.

Seamus Miley from Dunlavin in County Wicklow – died on May 24th 2007 when a six-tonne dumper truck he was driving on the Ardenode Stud Farm in Ballymore Eustace, County Kildare overturned as it descended a steep hill.

An investigation into the accident found that the roll bar in the dumper truck was defective and should have saved Seamus´ life. Seamus´ widow – Anne – claimed compensation for the fatal farm accident on behalf of her family and a separate compensation claim for nervous shock against Seamus´ employer and several other companies connected with the design and supply of the dumper truck.

The allegations of negligence were denied by each of the defendants, who contested that Seamus had been the architect of his own misfortune by driving the truck at excessive speed. No agreement could be reached on the outcome of the case and it proceeded to court, where it was scheduled to be heard by Ms Justice Mary Irvine.

However, before the court case could get underway, Judge Irvine was told that Anne and the Miley family had agreed to a settlement of compensation for the fatal farm accident amounting to €700,000. Judge Irvine was also informed that Anne had resolved her compensation claim for nervous shock for €100,000. The judge approved the settlements, sympathising that the family had to come to court in such tragic circumstances.

Dunnes Employee Awarded Canteen Slip and Fall Injury Compensation

An employee of Dunnes Stores in Clonmel has been awarded €82,750 canteen slip and fall injury compensation after a hearing at the High Court.

Twenty-nine year old Dorota Michalowska had been clearing tables in the canteen of her local Dunnes Store in Clonmel, County Tipperary, when – on July 14th 2011 – as she was pushing a trolley laden with dirty dishes towards the kitchen, she slipped on a frozen chip on the floor and fell awkwardly – sustaining a soft tissue injury in her knee.

Dorota´s left her immobilised for six months – and unable to work for thirty-five weeks – and after undergoing therapy to reduce her incapacity Dorota sought legal advice from a solicitor and made a claim for canteen slip and fall injury compensation against Dunnes Stores.

Dunnes Stores denied its liability for Dorota´s soft tissue injury – arguing that she had been preparing much of the food in the canteen throughout the day and, as it was most likely that her negligence was responsible for the frozen chip being on the floor, Dorota had been the author of her own misfortune.

Dorota´s claim for canteen slip and fall injury compensation was heard by Ms Justice Mary Irvine at the High Court, and after hearing evidence from both parties, Judge Irvine ruled Dorota´s favour on the grounds that had Dorota dropped the frozen chip herself – and then gone around the canteen loading her trolley with dirty dishes – the chips would have defrosted by the time Dorota slipped on them and injured her knee.

The judge noted that Dorota had two colleagues working in the canteen with her on the day of the accident and “on the balance of probabilities” in was more than likely that one of Dorota´s colleagues had dropped the chip and either not seen the hazard or neglected to pick it up. Consequently Judge Irvine ruled, Dunnes Stores were liable for Dorota´s injuries due to the negligence of its staff.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine awarded Dorota €82,750 canteen slip and fall injury compensation – commenting that it was likely Dorota would suffer from arthritis in her later life, and that the compensation settlement included a payment of €20,000 to account for Dorota´s future pain and suffering.

Man Receives Brain Injury Compensation after Fall from Roof

The High Court has approved a settlement of brain injury compensation after a fall from the roof of a house left a fifty-year-old man with permanent brain damage.

Paul O´Brien was working on the roof of a house in Bray on 18th July 2012 – his first paid employment since he lost his construction job in 2008 – when he went to descend from the roof as it started raining.

Paul attempted to exit the roof from a ladder which had been propped up against the side of the building; but, as he stepped onto it, the ladder slipped on the wooden decking it had been placed on, and Paul fell to the ground.

As a result of his accident, Paul suffered a significant head trauma and now has limited short-term memory. Through his wife – Sandra O´Brien of Glenealy in County Wicklow – Paul made a claim for brain injury compensation after a fall from a roof against his employer – Sean Lyons of Clondalkin, Dublin.

Paul claimed in his action that Lyons had failed to provide a safe environment in which to work and had been negligent by failing to provide suitable scaffolding or fall protection to enable him to work safely.

It was also claimed that the ladder provided was unfit for the purpose of descending from the roof safely, that it had not been fastened to the building, and that the combination of an unsuitable, unfastened ladder and the wet wooden decking on which it had been placed resulted in a dangerous hazard.

An out-of-court settlement of brain injury compensation after a fall from a roof was negotiated by Sandra and Paul´s legal representatives; but, because of the nature of Paul´s injury, it had to be first approved by a judge.

Consequently, the details of the accident were related to Ms Justice Mary Irvine at the High Court, who also heard that Sandra had taken a two-year sabbatical from her job to care for her husband.

The judge was told that the €1.5 million settlement of brain injury compensation after a fall from the roof of roofer´s fall from height injury compensation had been agreed out-of-court and that the family were willing to accept it.

Judge Irvine approved Paul´s settlement – commenting that had the case gone to court, Paul´s contributory negligence may have been a factor in the amount of the settlement. The judge then closed the hearing, saying that she sympathised with the O’Brien family.

Chef Injured in Work Team Building Activity Resolves Claim Out of Court

A hotel chef, injured in a work team building activity, has resolved his compensation claim for a broken wrist out of court.

Cathal Kavanagh (54) from Ongar in Dublin – an executive chef at the four star Carton House Spa and Golf Hotel in Maynooth, County Kildare – attended a team-building day in October 2006 organised by his employer at the Riverbank Arts Centre in Newbridge.

During the day, Cathal and other managers from the hotel were asked to participate in various activities; including a relay race in which the managers were divided into two teams and then asked to hop forwards and then run backwards to pass the baton to the next team member.

During the relay race, Cathal slipped and he broke his wrist when he fell. After speaking with a solicitor, Cathal made a compensation claim for being injured in a work team building activity against his employer, the Riverbank Arts Centre and the company that had organised the team building day – JikiJela Ltd of Tubbercurry, County Sligo.

Cathal alleged in his compensation claim for being injured in a work team building activity that the three defendants had been negligent by failing to ensure that the activities were safe or that there was any risk on an injury occurring. The three allegedly negligent parties denied their liability for Cathal´s slip and fall injury and an Authorisation was issued by the Injuries Board for Cathal´s claim to be heard at the Circuit Civil Court.

However, when re-convening after the lunch break on the first day of the hearing, Ms Justice Mary Irvine was told that Cathal had resolved his claim for being injured in a work team building activity and that the case could now be struck out.

Fall from Ladder Injury Compensation Awarded to Former Argos Employee

A former employee of Argos in Waterford has been awarded fall from ladder injury compensation amounting to €25,000 after a hearing at the Circuit Civil Court.

Forty-two year old Nicola Starmer was working as a front-of-house sales assistant at the Great George´s Street branch of Argos in February 2007, when she went into the store´s stockroom to fetch goods that had been purchased by a customer.

As the purchase she needed to retrieve from the stockroom was located on a high shelf, Nicola – from Ballynakill Downs in Waterford – used a ladder in order to reach it. However, as Nicola was descending the ladder, she fell backwards and put out her hand to break her fall.

At the time Nicola was unaware that she had sustained an injury in the accident; but, as the day progressed, she started to feel pain in her right wrist. She visited the Accident department of the local hospital, where an x-ray which revealed she had dislocated her wrist.

Doctors inserted pins into Nicola´s wrist to stabilise the injury, and she was discharged from hospital in plaster cast to protect her wrist while it healed. Unfortunately she was unable to return to her temporary job at Argos because of her injury.

Nicola explained the circumstances of her injury to a solicitor and made a claim for fall from ladder injury compensation against Argos. Argos contested its liability for her injuries and the Injuries Board issued an Authorisation for the claim to be heard at the Circuit Civil Court.

At the hearing, Argos disputed Nicola´s claim for fall from ladder injury compensation on the grounds that Nicola had been trained in ladder safety and that the company should not be held responsible for her injuries.

However, Nicola´s solicitor told Mr Justice Raymond Groake that the ladder safety training was comprised of a DVD presentation rather than a practical demonstration and, furthermore, that Nicola had never been given any training with regard to working in the stockroom as she had been employed as a front-of-house sales assistant.

Judge Groarke also heard that Nicola had only attempted to fetch the goods that had been purchased by the customer because the store was short-staffed and there was nobody else available. He found in Nicola´s favour and awarded her €25,000 in fall from ladder injury compensation.

Steep Rise in Compensation Claims for Burns and Scalds at Work

The Injuries Board has released figures which show a steep rise in compensation claims for burns and scalds at work between 2011 and 2012.

Stephen Watkins – the Director of Corporate Services at the Injuries Board – has published a press release on the Injuries Board website in which he describes the increase in compensation claims for burns and scalds at work as “worrying”.

He points to figures from 2011 and 2012 in which the number of accepted Injuries Board assessments in relation to burns and scalds in the workplace rose from twenty-eight to forty-two, with a total assessment value of €1.33 million and an average compensation award of €19,066.

Mr Watkins describes the various ways in which workers can sustain burns and scalds at work, and listed the most frequent reasons for applications being submitted to the Injuries Board:

  • Boiling water overflowing
  • Splashes from hot liquids and sauces
  • Chemical and acid burns
  • Items of clothing catching fire
  • Scalds from faulty electrical equipment

The highest individual award over the two-year period was €106,949 – relating to burns sustained in an acid spill – but Mr Watkins commented that the highest number of compensation claims for burns and scalds at work were made by plaintiffs working in the catering trade and in cleaning.

It was also highlighted that something as simple as making a hot drink could result in an injury at work, and Mr Watkins urged both employers and employees to be aware of safety precautions when in the presence of any substance or equipment that could result in a painful burn injury.

In 2012, the Health and Safety Authority´s “Summary of Workplace Injuries” showed that female employees are three times more likely than their male counterparts to sustain burns and scalds in the workplace, due to the higher percentage of females employed in catering and cleaning.

It should also not be overlooked that, in 2012, the percentage of accepted Injuries Board assessments fell from 37.2 percent to 32.7 percent – indicating that there may have been a further 100 compensation claims for burns and scalds at work which were resolved outside of the Injuries Board process.

HSA Chief Comments on Injury Claims for Slips and Falls at Work

The Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority – Martin O´Halloran – has commented on figures released by the Injuries Board relating to injury claims for slip and falls at work.

To coincide with the European Week for Safety and Health at Work earlier this month, the Injuries Board released figures which showed that a third of all workplace-related assessments in 2012 were attributable to injury claims for slips and falls at work.

The total value of the accepted assessments for workplace injuries amounted to €22 million and Mr O´Halloran said that employers should use the European Week for Safety and Health at Work to reflect on the safety systems they have in place and not leave anything to chance.

Although acknowledging that employees often take less care at work because they are aware that employers have responsibility for their health and safety, Mr O´Halloran revealed that a quarter of workplaces inspected by the HSA in 2012 had not carried out a risk assessment to identify where slips and falls at work might occur.

Commenting on the cost to industry of injury claims for slips and falls at work, Mr O´Halloran said “Effective management of workplace safety and health not only protects workers from injury and ill-health, but also has the potential to save businesses thousands of Euros. Proper management of workplace safety and health contributes to long-term commercial success and profitability”.

Further statistics were reported on by the Injuries Board in their press release, and these included:

· The average accepted assessment of injury compensation for a workplace accident was €27,286.
· Male workers are twice as likely to sustain a workplace injury as female workers (in all workplace accidents)
· The highest number of injury claims for slips and falls at work were made by workers in the 25 to 34 age group
· One fifth of the accepted assessments of injuries caused by a slip and fall at work were for accidents which resulted in the plaintiff taking more than one month to recover from their injuries.

Report Reveals 10 Percent Increase in Compensation Claims to the Injuries Board

Claims to the Injuries Board have increased by 10 percent in the first half of the year according to a report published on the government body´s website.

The analysis of claims to the Injuries Board from January to June 2013 show that the number of applications for the assessment of compensation received by the Injuries Board increased from 14,685 in the corresponding period in 2012 to 16,162 – a rise of just over 10 percent.

The number of assessments accepted by plaintiffs also increased from 5,180 to 5,286, but this represented a significant drop in the percentage of claims to the Injuries Board which were successfully resolved (37.2 percent > 32.7 percent) and indicates that fewer claims for personal injury compensation are being resolved through the Injuries Board process.

The total value of accepted assessments and the average value of each assessment also increased (by 8 percent and 4 percent respectively); however CEO of the Injuries Board in Ireland – Patricia Byron – explained that this was due to a small number of exceptional claims to the Injuries Board – one of which resulted in the highest ever accepted Injuries Board assessment of €976,000.

Once again, claims for injuries sustained in road traffic accidents accounted for the highest proportion of claims to the Injuries Board (75.5 percent), while there was an ongoing reduction in claims for injuries at work (8.1 percent). The remainder of the requests for an assessment of injury compensation were made in respect of public liability claims – injuries sustained in places of public access and product liability claims.

Discussing the increased volume of claims to the Injuries Board and the higher level of injury compensation settlements, Ms Byron warned insurance companies not to use the Injuries Board statistics as an excuse to raise insurance premiums. She said “Given a reduction of 30 percent in the Boards processing fee to respondents [down from €850.00 to €600.00], we see no basis for insurance premium hikes at this time”.

Potential plaintiffs should that while it may still be quicker to resolve a claim for personal injury compensation through direct contact with the negligent party´s insurers, making a claim to the Injuries Board is still necessary (except in claims for medical negligence and professional negligence) in case your claim cannot be resolved by negotiation and requires court action.