How to Claim Compensation for Hand Injury at Work
This article outlines some of the reasons why you might – or might not – be eligible for compensation for a hand injury at work and the procedures you should complete after injuring your hand in an accident at work to support a work injured hand claim for compensation.
As no two claims for hand injuries at work are identical, it is always in your best interests to discuss the circumstances of your work injury with a solicitor in detail at the earliest practical opportunity, even though a brief explanation of how to claim for hand damage at work is also included in this article.
Your first priority should always be your health and you should seek medical treatment from a professional for your injured hand, if you have not already done so. No amount of work injured hand compensation will ever make up for a long term health issue which could have been prevented by prompt medical attention and, to support your claim for injuring your hand at work, you will need a doctor to complete the Injuries Board Medical Assessment Form B.
Claims for Hand Injuries at Work and the Duty of Care of Employers
In order to qualify to claim compensation for hand injury at work, you must have sustained a hand injury which could have been avoided had your employer – or another 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 work.
An employer´s “duty of care” covers all his or her responsibilities to prevent a hand injury from being sustained wherever possible, and would include performing risk assessments to identify foreseeable hazards, providing training and supervision, and supplying personal protective equipment where necessary to eradicate the risk of an employee injuring their hand at work.
Should an employer fail in their duty of care to remove the risk of an injury, and you subsequently suffer a hand injury as a result, you should qualify to make a work injured hand claim for compensation. However, it must be said that an employer´s duty of care is not “absolute” and, if you injure your hand in an accident at work which could not have been foreseen, claims for hand injuries at work are unlikely to be successful.
Reporting Injured Hand Work Accidents
It is vital that your injured hand work accident is recorded in your employer´s “Accident Report Book”. Although a copy of this report is not sent to the Injuries Board when applying for an assessment of compensation for a hand injury at work, reporting an injured hand work accident may initiate a Health and Safety Authority (HSA) investigation which could establish your employer´s liability in your claim for injuring your hand at work.
If liability can be established before making claims for hand injuries at work, it should speed up the Injuries Board process or may enable a solicitor acting on your behalf to negotiate a settlement of work injured hand compensation without the need for witness statements or photographic evidence of your employer´s negligence.
If your hand injury is so severe that you are unable to document your work accident – or your employer fails to give you access to the Accident Report Book – you would be advised to speak with a solicitor. Injured hand work accidents can be reported online at the HSA web site, but you will need an approval code to use the service and it may be a lot simpler for a solicitor to generate a report on your behalf and then use it in support of a work injured hand claim for compensation.
Procedures for Claiming Work Injured Hand Compensation
The most frequently used procedure for claiming work injured hand 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 hand injury. Receipts for any expenses you have incurred which are directly attributable to your hand accident at work should also be attached to your application.
The Injuries Board´s role is only to assess how much compensation for hand injury at work you are eligible for, and not to establish liability for your hand injury. Therefore, the Injuries Board will write to your employer asking for consent to proceed with an assessment of your work injured hand claim for compensation, and only continue once that consent has been received – effectively when your employer has admitted his liability for your injured hand injury.
Thereafter you may have to undergo an independent medical examination to ascertain the severity of your injured hand 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 injured hand compensation. If either your employer denies his consent for the Injuries Board to assess your claim for injuring your hand at work, or neither party agrees on how much compensation for hand injury at work you are entitled to, the Injuries Board will issue you with an authorisation to pursue your claim for injured hand at work through the courts.
Contributory Negligence and Claim for Injured Hand at Work
One of the reasons why consent to assess your claim for injured hand at work may be withheld from the Injuries Board is if you are considered to have been partly responsible for the cause of the injured hand accident at work or the extent or severity of your injury. The Injuries Board will only assess claims for hand injuries at work in which total liability is admitted and, if you have contributed to your hand injury, the Injuries Board will have no option but to issue you with an authorisation to pursue your work injured hand claim for compensation in court.
Court action may be a last resort when making a claim for injuring your hand at work, as it may also be possible to negotiate a settlement with your employer´s liability insurers where you accept a percentage responsibility for your injured hand and that percentage is then deducted from how much compensation for a hand injury at work your claim is settled for. Negotiating the value of work injured hand compensation directly with an insurance company without legal representation is not a good idea
One element of contributory negligence which is sometimes overlooked is if you contributed to the extent of your hand injury by failing to seek prompt professional medical attention. Some people who injure a hand at work foolishly attempt to work through the pain – making their injury worse and jeopardising their entitlement to compensation for hand injury at work. If this has happened to you, you should discuss the issue with a solicitor to find out whether you still have a claim for an injured hand at work which is worth your while to pursue.
Unsolicited Offers of Compensation from Insurance Companies
If you receive a direct approach from an insurance company with an unsolicited offer of work injured hand compensation you should always speak with a solicitor. Insurance companies are often made aware of injured hand work accidents 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 injuring your hand at work.
The purpose of the insurance company´s approach is to reduce how much compensation for hand 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. Even if you are concerned about your short-term finances, you should refrain from accepting an insurance company´s unsolicited offer of compensation for your hand injury until you have discussed your claim for injured hand at work with a solicitor.
By their approach, the insurance company has effectively admitted your employer´s liability for your injured hand 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 injured hand claim for compensation – organising interim payments until the claim is resolved if necessary.
Do I Need a Solicitor to Claim Compensation for a Hand Injury at Work?
You do not need a solicitor in order to make claims for hand injuries at work, but it is more often than not in your best interests 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 injured hand at work, a solicitor has the experience to ensure you receive your full entitlement to work injured hand compensation – whether your claim for injuring your hand at work 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 injured hand claim for compensation if you have sustained a hand injury in a work accident for which you were not entirely to blame, and provide you with answers to any questions you may have in regard to your eligibility to claim compensation for a hand injury at work. As it is often in your best interest to have evidence gathered to substantiate your claim for injured hand at work while it is still fresh, it is recommended that you speak with a solicitor about the circumstances of your hand injury in a work accident without delay.