Can compensation for a syringe injury at work include damages for anxiety and depression? My wife has suffered severe psychological stress from the fear of contracting HIV due to a syringe injury at work. She has also been sick due to the prophylactic medication.

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

A claim for compensation for a syringe injury at work may often be made for the psychological trauma which can result from a syringe injury at work, rather than the physical injury caused by a puncture wound – although such an injury can be painful in itself.

A syringe injury at work may not result in an illness being contracted; however the fear of having been exposed to a life threatening disease is enough to cause severe psychological distress. Prophylactic medication can be effective should exposure have occurred, although this medication is not without side effects. When prophylactic medication causes sickness it can add to the worry that a disease has been contracted.

Before a claim for compensation for a syringe injury at work can be made, it is important to determine whether your wife is eligible to make a claim for a syringe injury at work. It is only possible to take legal action to recover compensation for a syringe injury at work if the accident was caused by her employer´s negligence and there was a failure in the duty of care to provide your wife with a safe environment in which to work.

If your wife is a cleaner, and had not been provided with appropriate personal protective equipment, a claim for compensation for a syringe injury at work should be possible. Similarly, if a syringe injury at work was the result of a failure by her employer to make sure that syringes were disposed of in a designated sharps bin, a claim for compensation for a syringe injury at work will also be possible.

If the syringe injury at work was the result of negligence of an employer or another third party, it is only fair that your wife recovers compensation for both her physical injury and the psychological trauma she has had to endure. However, a claim for compensation for a syringe injury at work should be discussed with a personal injury solicitor. Claims for compensation for a syringe injury at work primarily for psychological issues can be particularly complicated, and a personal injury solicitor with experience of making syringe injury claims should be consulted.

It is only be possible to claim compensation for psychological problems for known psychological disorders which have been diagnosed by a doctor. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety and depression are perhaps to be expected after a syringe injury at work, but these must be diagnosed and recorded in your wife’s medical records in order for syringe injury compensation to be awarded.

A personal injury solicitor can arrange for your wife to be assessed by a doctor experienced in dealing with these conditions and who will be able to confirm the diagnosis. All psychological and physical injuries will then be added to the medical assessment form which is submitted to the Injuries Board and will be factored into an award of compensation for a syringe injury at work.