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Compensation for injuries
Injuries occur in various places including the home, workplace, roadways, public buildings, private buildings and recreational facilities. They may also result from criminal conduct.
When are people liable?
Generally, where people (including individuals, companies, businesses, the State) are shown to be negligent they may be held liable for a civil wrong. To be liable they must owe a duty of care to another person; they must breach that duty; and some injury or loss must result.
• If you are the cause of your own injury you have no remedy unless you have an insurance policy to cover your injuries.
• If an injury is caused by a defective appliance, shoddy installation or bad workmanship, you may have a claim.
• If an injury is caused by some outside source such as a neighbour’s falling tree or defective wall you may have a claim.
Workplaces include factories, offices and even open areas. Employers owe their employees a duty of care to provide:
• A safe work environment
• All necessary safety equipment
• A safe system of work
Employees have a duty to use the safety equipment provided, to maintain a safe working environment and a safe system of work. They should bring to the attention of the employer any unsafe, dangerous or hazardous work conditions. Employees also have the right to refuse to work in unsafe, dangerous or hazardous conditions or in the absence of necessary safety equipment.
If employees continue to work in unsafe conditions they may be held to have assumed the risk or contributed to their injuries. It is all a question of acting reasonably. Employers and employees must act reasonably when it comes to having a safe work place.
If you are in an unsafe place of work or you’re injured you may:
• Make a complaint under any grievance procedure
• Make a report to your union representative
• Make a report to the Factories Inspectorate
• Make a report to the Safety Council
• Make a claim for Workmen’s Compensation
• Bring a claim in court
Public or private buildings
An owner or occupier of premises also owes a duty of care to all lawful users of the premises.
Among breaches which may allow you to bring a claim under this heading include:
• Wet floor without warning signs
• Slippery surfaces
• Falling items
• Unsafe storage
• Falls caused by steps without railings
Before you can bring a claim you must:
• Write or have a lawyer write a claim letter
• Gather the important evidence such as all expenses, bills, receipts, medical reports, follow-up reports, loss of income, expert evidence; contact any witnesses
• Think through the details of your claim including exactly how it happened
• You should also seek the advice of a lawyer.
Generally, you have four years to bring a claim from the date when the injury was caused or first arose. Next week we will look at compensation for injuries to victims of crime.
This column is not legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should consult a legal adviser.
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