Is it possible to claim compensation for lighting injuries at work for a fall in the office car park? There is poor lighting on the stairs and I fell and fractured my ankle. My boss told me that the car park is not his responsibility and I cannot claim compensation.

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

Question:

Is it possible to claim compensation for lighting injuries at work for a fall in the office car park? There is poor lighting on the stairs and I fell and fractured my ankle. My boss told me that the car park is not his responsibility and I cannot claim compensation.

Answer:

In order for a claim for compensation for lighting injuries at work to be successful, you must be able to determine that the accident which caused you to be injured was the result of third party negligence. You must also be able to clearly demonstrate that the accident was the direct result of poor lighting on the steps, and was not primarily caused by carelessness on your own part.

Third party negligence means that your accident was due to somebody else´s lack of care and that your accident could have been avoided has better care been taken. In order for there to be negligence, the third party in question must have owed you a duty of care and breached this duty of care causing you to come to harm.

If the lighting was insufficient above the steps and the light levels made climbing or descending the steps hazardous, this certainly constitutes negligence. Steps and stairs are a potential hazard and must be appropriately lit to avoid accidents. Your employer has a legal responsibility to perform a risk assessment in the workplace, which must include all communal areas both inside and outside the building. The office car park and its access route must similarly feature in the risk assessment and inadequate lighting should have been noted and corrected. Failure to perform a risk assessment and take appropriate action would constitute grounds for making a claim for compensation for lighting injuries at work if you were injured as a direct result.

However an employer cannot be expected to respond instantly to a temporary hazard or problem. If the lighting on the steps was normally sufficient and a light bulb had expired, it is not reasonable to expect for it to be replaced immediately. In order for compensation for lighting injuries at work to be claimed due to a temporary hazard, an employer must have been given a reasonable time frame in order to correct any faults with lighting or to alert staff to the danger.

It would not be possible to file a compensation claim for lighting injuries at work against your employer if the car park, steps or lighting was not directly under his control. In such cases a lighting injury claim may still be possible, although the negligent party in this scenario may be the building owner or a maintenance company. In order to determine who the negligent party is in your case and whether you have a valid claim for compensation for lighting injuries at work you should discuss the circumstances of the accident with a personal injury solicitor.