I am a postman and I want to claim compensation for a hand injury in a letter box. I severely cut a finger on a sharp edge of a metal letter box and could have totally severed my finger. Can I claim compensation from my employer?

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

It is highly unlikely that you will be able to claim compensation for a hand injury in a letter box against your employer’s liability insurance policy. In order for a claim for personal injury compensation to be possible, there must have been negligence, a duty of care must have been owed to you and that duty of care must have been breached resulting in an injury being sustained. In your case, it is hard to see how your employer could be liable in a claim for compensation for a hand injury in a letter box. Your employer has no control over the letterboxes on private properties, and it is unlikely that any amount of training could have prevented you from being injured.

However, it should be possible to claim compensation for a hand injury in a letter box against the property owner’s home contents insurance policy. As a postman you are invited to deliver post to the address. The letterbox must therefore not represent an excessive risk of injury to any delivery person, which is clearly not the case if the edge was sharp enough to almost sever a finger. A homeowner has a responsibility to ensure that areas of the property which can be accessed by delivery persons, including the gate, path, letter box and doorbell are safe and are unlikely to result in an injury to an innocent third party. Should an unacceptable risk of injury have existed, you will be entitled to make a claim for compensation for a hand injury in a letter box against the home insurance policy.

If you intend to make a claim against the property owner for compensation for a hand injury in a letter box, you will need to collect evidence that the letter box was dangerous and represented a risk of injury. However, no injury claim for compensation for a hand injury in a letter box will be possible if your injury was not severe enough to warrant a visit to the doctor for treatment. Although you could have suffered a much more severe injury, it is not possible to claim compensation for a close call; a letter box hand injury claim can only be made for the actual injury you sustained.

It would help your claim for compensation for a hand injury in a letter box if you could record evidence of the injury and the hazard. You should take photographs of your injury immediately, and also during the recovery process. It would help your claim if you could return to the address and take a photograph of the letterbox; however you should not place yourself in any danger by doing so. Other proof of injury should involve making a report in your employer’s ‘Accident Book’ stating the date and time when the injury occurred, the address in question and a brief description of the letter box and the location of the sharp edge. You should also speak with a personal injury solicitor about making a claim for compensation for hand injury in a letter box against the property owner to establish that you have a claim for compensation for a hand injury in a letter box which is worth your while to pursue and, if so, receive help with submitting your application for an assessment of compensation to the Injuries Board Ireland.