How to Claim Compensation for Chemical Injury at Work
This article explains some of the reasons why you might – or might not – qualify for compensation for chemical injury at work and the procedures you should follow after sustaining an injury from chemicals in an accident at work to support a work chemical injury compensation claim.
A brief explanation of how to claim for work chemical injuries is also included; however, as all claims for chemical work accidents are unique, it is always in your best interests to discuss the specific circumstances of your work injury with a solicitor at the first practical opportunity.
Your first priority should always be your health and, if you have not already done so, you should seek professional medical treatment for the injury you sustained from chemicals. No amount of work injury from chemicals compensation will ever be a substitute for a long term health issue which could have been avoided by timely medical attention and, to support your claim for accident with chemicals in the workplace, you will need a doctor to complete the Injuries Board Medical Assessment Form B.
Claims for Chemical Work Accidents and the Duty of Care of Employers
In order to be eligible to claim compensation for chemical injury at work, you must have sustained a chemical injury which could have been prevented had your employer – or other person with responsibility for your health and safety – fulfilled his or her duty of care to provide you with a safe environment in which to perform your work duties.
An employer´s “duty of care” covers all his or her responsibilities to make sure a chemical injury is avoided wherever possible, and would include performing risk assessments to identify foreseeable hazards, providing training and supervision, and supplying personal protective equipment where necessary to eliminate the risk of an employee being injured by chemicals in the workplace.
Should an employer fail in their duty of care to eliminate the risk of an injury, and you subsequently sustain an injury from chemicals as a result, you should be entitled to make a work chemical injury compensation claim. It should be noted, however, that an employer´s duty of care is not “absolute” and, if you are injured in an accident at work which could not have been foreseen, claims for chemical work accidents are unlikely to be successful.
Procedures for Claiming Work Injury from Chemicals Compensation
The procedure that is most frequently used for claiming work injury from chemicals compensation is to submit an application for assessment to the Injuries Board. Your application can be completed on a paper form or online, but must be submitted with a medical practitioner´s report detailing your chemical-related injury. Receipts for any expenses you have incurred which are directly attributable to your chemical accident at work should also be attached to your application.
The Injuries Board´s role is only to assess how much compensation for chemical injury at work you are entitled to, and not establish liability for the injury you sustained. Therefore, the Injuries Board will write to your employer asking for consent to proceed with an assessment of your work chemical injury compensation claim, and only continue once that consent has been received – effectively when your employer has admitted his liability for your chemical injury.
Thereafter you may have to undergo an independent medical examination to ascertain the severity of your injury from chemicals and the Injuries Board will then send you and your employer a “Notice of Assessment” which – if both you and your employer agree to – is followed by an “Order to Pay” work injury from chemicals compensation. If either your employer denies his consent for the Injuries Board to assess your claim for accident with chemicals in the workplace, or neither party agrees on how much compensation for chemical injury at work you are entitled to, the Injuries Board will issue you with an authorisation to pursue your claim for work chemical injuries through the courts.
Contributory Negligence and Work Chemical Accidents
One of the reasons why consent to assess your claim for work chemical injuries may be withheld from the Injuries Board is if you are considered to have been partly responsible for the cause of the chemical accident at work or the extent of your injury. The Injuries Board will only assess claims for chemical work accidents in which total liability is admitted and, if you have contributed to your chemical injury, the Injuries Board will have no option but to issue you with an authorisation to pursue your work chemical injury compensation claim in court.
Court action may be a last resort when making a claim for accident with chemicals in the workplace, as it may also be possible to negotiate a settlement with your employer´s liability insurers where you accept a percentage responsibility for your chemical injury and that percentage is then deducted from how much compensation for chemical injury at work your claim is settled for. Negotiating the value of work injury from chemicals compensation directly with an insurance company is not recommended without legal representation.
One factor of contributory negligence which is sometimes overlooked is if you contributed to the extent of your chemical injury by failing to seek immediate professional medical treatment. Some people who sustain injuries from chemicals at work foolishly attempt to work through the pain – making their injury worse and jeopardising their entitlement to compensation for chemical injury at work. If this has happened to you, you should speak with a solicitor about whether you still have a valid claim for work chemical injuries which is worth your while to pursue.
Unsolicited Offers of Chemical Accident Compensation from Insurance Companies
You would always be well advised to speak with a solicitor if you receive a direct approach from an insurance company with an unsolicited offer of work injury from chemicals compensation. Insurance companies are often made aware of work accidents with chemicals when a report is made in the employer´s “Accident Report Book”, and may make an approach even before you have considered making a claim for accident with chemicals in the workplace.
The purpose of the insurance company´s approach is to reduce the amount of compensation for chemical injury at work they will have to pay you and, by tempting plaintiffs with an offer which would result in a quick settlement, they are successful enough times to keep on trying these approaches. Until you have discussed your claim for work chemical injuries with a solicitor, you should refrain from accepting insurance company´s unsolicited offer of compensation – even if you are concerned about your short-term finances,
By their approach, the insurance company has effectively admitted your employer´s liability for your chemical accident injury, and your solicitor will be able to engage in direct negotiations with the insurance company to obtain a full and satisfactory settlement of your work chemical injury compensation claim – arranging for interim payments until the claim is resolved if necessary.
How the Statute of Limitations Affects a Work Chemical Injury Compensation Claim
The Courts and Civil Liability Act 2004 set a limitation period of two years for making claims for chemical work accidents from the “Date of Knowledge” on which the chemical injury is diagnosed. There are very few scenarios in which a plaintiff would be unaware that they have suffered an injury in a chemical accident at work and therefore the two year limitation period for making a work chemical injury compensation claim would usually start on the day of your accident.
Two years may seem ample time in which to submit a claim for work chemical injuries to the Injuries Board for assessment but, if liability for your chemical injury is denied, or you are waiting for the results of an HSA investigation to confirm your employer´s liability in a claim for accident with chemicals in the workplace, the time can slip quickly by.
If the full extent of your chemical injury is not known, or due to complications it is taking a long time to recover from your workplace accident and impossible to calculate how much work injury from chemicals compensation you are entitled to, it is possible to “stop the clock” on your claim for compensation for chemical Injury at work. You will need the agreement of your employer´s insurance company to do this – assuming your employer has admitted liability for your chemical injury – and this is something which is once again best done with the assistance of a personal injury* solicitor.
You Need a Solicitor to Confirm You Have a Valid Claim
You do not need a solicitor in order to make claims for chemical work accidents, but you would be well advised to do so. In addition to acting as a go-between between yourself and your employer, and dealing with any complications that arise while making a claim for work chemical injuries, a solicitor has the experience to ensure you receive your full entitlement to work injury from chemicals compensation – whether your claim for accident with chemicals in the workplace is resolved via the Injuries Board, by negotiation with your employer´s insurers or through court action.
Most solicitors will offer a free assessment of your work chemical injury compensation claim if you have sustained a chemical injury in work accident for which you were not entirely at fault, and provide you with answers to any questions you may have in regard to your eligibility to claim compensation for chemical Injury at work. As it is often in your best interest to have evidence assembled in support of your claim for work chemical injuries while it is still fresh, it is recommended that you speak with a solicitor about the circumstances of your chemical injury in a work accident without delay.