Is it possible to claim compensation for a work injury due to mistake of another worker? My leg was broken when a pallet fell which was incorrectly stacked by a colleague. Who would be the respondent in my claim?
Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor
Editor in Chief
It is possible to claim compensation for a work injury due to a mistake of another worker if the actions of that worker have caused you to be injured at work. In such cases, a claim for compensation will need to be made against your employer, and not against the work colleague who caused the accident. In your case, although your employer was not directly responsible for the mistake and did not personally stack the pallet incorrectly, it is your employer who is ultimately responsible for the accident as your employer has a legal responsibility to ensure that the workplace is safe at all times, and the actions of the staff fall under this legal responsibility.
Employers must ensure that all employees are provided with the necessary training to enable them to perform their working duties safely and so as not to place themselves or other employees at risk of sustaining an injury. Not only must training be provided, but staff must be appropriately supervised and the work which is completed must be checked. If your colleague was incompetent or careless, his negligence will be classed as negligence on the part of your employer for placing other workers at an unacceptable risk of injury. A claim for compensation for a work injury due to a mistake of another worker should therefore be possible, and your employer’s liability insurance policy should cover your compensation.
Since you sustained a serious injury at work which would have resulted in more than 3 consecutive days out of work, your employer is obliged to report the accident to the Health and Safety Authority. It is also likely that his insurance company will have been notified about the accident. Since it is unlikely that your employer would be able to deny liability for your injuries and successfully defend a claim, your employer’s insurance company may offer you compensation for your injuries even before a claim for a work injury due to a mistake of another worker is made through the Injuries Board.
In situations such as yours it is not unusual for an employer’s insurance company to contact the claimant directly and attempt to settle the claim for a work injury due to a mistake of another worker without the involvement of the Injuries Board. While there are advantages to the claimant by accepting such an offer – such as receiving an early payment of compensation – you should not accept any offer of compensation without first seeking legal advice. The amount of compensation offered by insurance companies are typically low, and claiming compensation for work injury due to a mistake of another worker through the Injuries Board is likely to result in a higher work injury compensation award being made.