Wednesday, 17 April 2013

How a small accident at work can have huge repercussions

Have you have ever sustained an injury that didn’t receive proper medical attention? Perhaps afterwards it became a larger problem, turning a little accident into a disaster. 

Legally, receiving damages for the pain you suffered from this type of accident can cause two issues: first, that the injury was initially only minor, and perhaps you ignored it or didn’t officially declare the incident. Secondly, it can take a long time for minor injuries to become major issues – you may have forgotten the initial incident or previously settled a minor injury claim without realising the long term damage. 

A case study – small accident, big problems 

In our case study, 34 year old Peter, an office worker in Bristol, was carrying out some routine filing, when a box that was incorrectly left on a shelf fell, striking him on the shoulder. 

After the initial shock and pain involved in the accident wore off, Peter carried on working with a small amount of pain in his shoulder. At the time he simply associated the pain with the feeling of being hit and didn’t officially report the accident to the company’s Health and Safety Officer. However he did mention the incident to his manager as he was unhappy with the way the box had been left. 

Three months later, Peter found that he was still having serious pain in his shoulder. The bruising had healed weeks ago and he could see no visible reason why the pain should be continuing. After some nagging from his wife, Peter went to see the doctor about the discomfort in his shoulder. The doctor diagnosed the injury as being a combination of trapped nerves, tissue damage and a minor fracture of the shoulder. 

Peter had to have surgery in order to fix his shoulder. The operation came across some slight difficulty, as the injuries had already began to heal and needed to be corrected. After a successful operation, Peter was required to wear a sling for 6 weeks and rest his arm, during this time he was not able to return to work. He also had to take part in physiotherapy twice a week for up to 24 months to regain full movement of his shoulder. 

How Peter was affected by the injuries

One of the biggest problems Peter faced with this injury was the financial implications involved, as he was the main earner in his family and during the time of his accident, his wife was on maternity leave with their second child. What’s more, the surgery had to be carried out at a private hospital due to the long waiting lists for NHS treatment. Peter found himself with a mountain of medical bills that he simply couldn’t afford. Because the injury happened months before the surgery, Peter was unsure as to whether he would be able to claim compensation to help cover the cost of his medical expenses. 

Making a claim

Luckily for Peter, it is possible to make a compensation claim up to three years after an accident. Plus, because his manager mentioned the accident to the Health and Safety Officer who added it into the company’s log book, Peter had a good foundation to make a claim. He was awarded a settlement that helped to cover all of his medical costs and loss of earnings. 

If you have received a minor injury at work that turned into a much bigger problem then you may be entitled to compensation. Peter was extremely fortunate that he told his manager who told HSE and his injury was recorded; always make sure that if you’re injured at work you report it, regardless of how minor it may seem at the time. Make a claim as quickly as possible, this way you can recall the circumstances of the accident clearly and you can seek early legal advice from compensation lawyers.

Am I industrially deaf? - How to find out if you are

Did you know that it takes about 15 years for people to realise that they are going deaf? For many people, the delay is due to a refusal to admit the problem. 

Others simply don’t realise they have a problem with their hearing, while others work in loud environments so they have become used to not being able to hear very well. Here’s how to evaluate whether you’re suffering from hearing loss:

Test yourself online

On the Action for Hearing website, you can undertake a fast, simple and easy hearing check online. The online test only takes around 5 minutes and can give a good indication of where you stand in terms of the average hearing for your age and gender. It’s important to note that this is not a full hearing assessment, only a hearing test designed to show whether you may suffer from hearing loss and encourage you to take action. 

One of the biggest issues associated with becoming deaf is the inability to correctly hear when there is background noise – this test measures you hearing levels against this ‘speech in-noise’ by saying three numbers with you need to record. The better you do at the test the more difficult it becomes in order to find your limits. If you feel as though you may have hearing issues in one ear then this test can help you find out as it assess each ear individually. 

Ask yourself some questions

If you do not wish to take the online hearing test, you can answer a series of questions that can help identify whether you may have hearing issues. Be sure to be entirely honest with yourself, or answer with a partner. The questions are as follows: 

1. Do you sometimes have difficulty understanding what people are saying on the phone, radio or TV?

2. Do you feel that people aren’t speaking clearly or are mumbling?

3. Do you constantly ask people to talk louder or repeat what they have said?

4. Is it difficult to follow a conversation in a noisy restaurant, crowded room or with background noise?

5. Do people get annoyed because you constantly misunderstand what they say?

If you have answered yes to two or more of these questions, it is likely that you may suffer from hearing loss. To get a complete evaluation of your hearing you need to see a GP or audiologist who will carry out a complete assessment of your hearing and tell you the likely cause of your hearing loss – whether it’s old age, working in a noisy environment, loud music or physical trauma.

What is industrial deafness?

Industrial deafness could affect over a million workers in the UK who operate in loud workplaces without the necessary safety equipment. There are a huge range of different jobs where industrial deafness could be a problem, everything from working in a nightclub to operating a pneumatic drill.

If your hearing loss is a result of industrial deafness you may be entitled to compensation. If you work in a loud environment and your employer failed to provide you with suitable protective equipment, or ensure that the legal limits on noise exposure are not exceeded, then you could be entitled to compensation to help pay for medical costs.

Types of construction accidents - The most common building site injuries

Construction sites can be a very dangerous place to work, especially if the proper health and safety measures aren’t in place. In 2012, it was recorded that 49 construction workers in the UK died as the result of a workplace accident and many more were seriously injured. 

When proper precautions are being enforced, construction sites can be much less hazardous. Here are some of the common accidents that occur on the work site and an idea of the amount of compensation you might expect to receive.

Common accidents

The main accidents that occur on construction sites are ones that are typically associated with manual labour and working with heavy machinery. There are many injuries that can happen which are not the fault of a third party, for example pulling a muscle or hitting your fingers with a hammer. As these incidents are of your own doing you probably won’t be able to claim compensation. However, construction site accidents that could be the fault of a third party include:

  • Slips and trips 
  • Falls from height 
  • Crush injuries 
  • Struck by falling objects
  • Electrocution/ Explosions 
The injuries that are sustained during these accidents range from mild injuries like grazes and bruising, to more serious damage such as broken bones, being paralysed and even limb amputation. Most of these accidents can be avoided but in the unfortunate cases when they do happen, you could be entitled to compensation.

Falls / Hit by falling objects

Although wearing protective equipment, like hard hats, can help to prevent some of the damage caused by falling objects they do not guarantee that you won’t sustain serious head injury. There are many ways in which you could sustain a brain injury on a construction site, the most common way this happens is by falling from height or being struck by falling objects. 

If the accident was no fault of your own then you may be able to claim for compensation to help cover your medical bills, loss of earnings and other expenses which may occur. The compensation you are likely to receive for being injured at work isn’t the same for every incident as it is based on your situation and the damage caused by the injury. 

Typically, head injury compensation can range from £1,500- £280,000; it is important to note that the larger the pay out, the worse the injury is likely to be, with the large amounts being paid out to help cover lifelong medical treatment.

Crush injuries

Breaking ribs while on the construction site is quite a common complaint, as it is the usual result of sustaining injuries when you’ve been crushed by vehicles or machinery. Seriously broken ribs can prevent you from working, as it can often be painful to move and breathe. Compensation for this injury typically range from around £1,800 - £2,500, however if your back was also injured during the accident then you’re looking at more compensation as these injuries are generally more damaging. 

How badly your back is damaged alters the amount of compensation you could receive; broken spines tend to get more compensation than muscle damage as they take much longer to heal. Crush injuries can inflict a huge variation of injuries from damage to internal organs, degloving injuries, broken spinal cords and even limb amputation, which means that the compensation you’re entitled to ranges from the hundreds to the hundreds of thousands depending on your injuries.

Limb injuries

Probably the most common accidents on a construction site are limb injuries, which can be the result of almost any situation. Hands in particular can be easily injured in the workplace as they can become crushed when trying to move heavy objects or damaged when operating unsafe equipment or machinery. 

Arms and legs can also become hurt in many ways, they are often damaged when falling from heights, burned as the result of electrocution or even wounded by malfunctioning machinery. Limb injuries can range from broken digits and sprains to serious fractures and sometimes even amputation. Due to the difference in severity, compensation can value anywhere from £600 to over £200,000, with the more serious injuries being awarded the larger claims.

Claiming compensation

Your employer has a responsibility to protect you from the hazards of the workplace by instilling health and safety measures into every area of the construction site. It’s well known that construction sites can be a dangerous place to work but the employer needs to make every effort in making it a safer place to work. 

If your accident has occurred due to the failure of your employer to meet their legal duty to adhere to the health and safety standards, then you could be entitled to compensation. If your employer has neglected aspects of health and safety that becomes a legal case in its own right, it is important to address problems and report any unsafe areas to your manager so there is a record of it in case of an accident.

In order to get the best possible compensation claim you should be sure to use an experienced construction accident lawyer, they have a wealth of knowledge of making claims in this area and can get you the compensation you deserve.

Agricultural Accidents - How to stay safe

Although many traditional framing practices have been streamlined in the last 50 years, it’s very well-known that farming is still one of the most dangerous occupations that a person could choose.

Whether you’re working with animals or through arable means, the combination of unpredictable animals, dangerous materials and powerful machinery means that sometimes, things can go wrong, with awful circumstances for a number of workers. And sometimes, it’s someone’s fault – perhaps a negligent senior worker or a faulty piece of machinery. That’s why many agricultural accident claims are made every year after farm workers are hurt – sometimes seriously – because of an error that someone made.

However, even though there are a huge number of agricultural accidents that occur as a result of someone’s mistake, many simply occur naturally; from being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Here’s how to stay safe, where possible, on the farm:

Always be alert

There is the old adage from the start-studded world of celebrity and entertainment that you should never work with children or animals. And while child slavery laws were thankfully outlawed in Victorian times, the wide majority of farms would be pretty unsustainable places without a good deal of four legged friends – and these loveable creatures, so paramount to the success of our farms, are pretty unpredictable, unfortunately. Therefore, it’s vital to be constantly on red alert while working on the farm with animals; sometime they are a scary noise away from jolting and potentially harming your health.

Always work in pairs

It’s often said that farming is quite a lonely pursuit, and the traditional view of the farmer or shepherd out alone in his field is an endearing one. But as the world of agriculture is such a dangerous one, with far higher injury rates than the typical office job, it’s vital to work in teams or pairs wherever at all possible, in case someone gets hurt in the line of fire. Or if you’re not able to work in pairs, be sure to instruct someone where you’re going and how long you’re going to be, otherwise you could get hurt, and waste precious minutes not getting the help you need.

Lift safely

It may seem relatively trivial after the pretty serious tips of the last two, but the most serious, debilitating injuries can occur from seemingly simple methods. And because agricultural work can include lifting quite substantial weights, it’s vital to lift properly – in a way that doesn’t hurt you.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Which are the most dangerous sports to play?

Of all the people in the developed world, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone out there who didn’t like any sports. Whether it’s the millions of people who both watch and play football every week, or the more niche aficionados of boules, water polo or gaelic football, sports captivate nearly everyone in Europe, Asia and the Americas. But despite the many pleasures involved in sport, it’s a very tangible reality that pain, and worse, serious injury is a part and parcel of even the most relaxed sports. As a result, sports injury compensation claims are a becoming increasingly common. It’s assumed that accidents can happen, but if someone is hurt on the field and it’s someone’s fault, then compensation may be claimed. But what are the most dangerous sports that a person could play? 


The glorious world of soccer is often maligned by rugby fans and others, who look at screaming, diving specimens writhing around on the floor supposedly in pain, and deign that the world’s favourite sport is one for pansies. And while that may be true in some cases, football can be an incredibly vicious sport, where ankles, knees and other vital joints and limbs are attacked by members of the opposition – leaving a player in agony and probably with a serious injury. 

Horse racing 

It may not be played by anything like as many people as football or other sports, but for those small, light jockeys who ride for a living, horse racing is an incredibly dangerous sport. Because they’re hurtling over 6ft jumps at speeds you’d expect from a modest car driving through town, and with none of the safety considerations in place, it goes without saying that horse racing is pretty dangerous. 

Bull fighting

It won’t surprise you to see bull fighting on this list. The famously Spanish sport sees a brave matador wave a red flag towards a bull, causing it to charge towards him. Then, the plucky Spaniard must dash out the way, quick, before the angry bull connects with his body. Needless to say, this makes it one of the world’s most dangerous sports. 

Ice hockey

This famous American pastime is a very dangerous sport, and not because of the potential frostbite. Like rugby and American football, this is a vicious sport, with plenty of painful fighting, but this finds its way onto the list because it’s part and parcel of the sport. What’s more, each team has a specified ‘goon’ – a man whose sole role is to fight and intimidate the other team. And even if they’re not fighting, sharp glass boots and hard sticks make it a very vicious sport. 

If you’ve been unlucky enough to get injured while playing sports, then an Employer Liability specialist lawyer can help you to get the compensation that you deserve for your sports compensation claim.

Why you need to know about the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme

Unlike personal accident claims, military accident claims can take one of two forms. If it can be shown that an injury or illness is the result of the military failing to protect you then you can make a civil claim – which is the type of claim most servicemen initially make. There is another type of claim that can be made though. This claim is a claim against the military itself and is done so through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme. 

What is the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme? 

This is a specialist scheme designed to compensate servicemen and women, or their families, for any injury, illness or death sustained while in service. The injury, illness or death being claimed for has to have occurred on or after 6 April 2005 and can be anything from a broken leg to an amputation or worse. The severity of the injury or illness dictates the amount of compensation awarded and any money that is awarded is completely separate from the money awarded in a civil claim. In other words, a claimant could greatly increase their total pay-out by claiming through the scheme and through a civil suit. 

What can be claimed for? 

 Any injury or illness that is incurred while in military service can be claimed for – even if it’s something like a broken ankle sustained during Adventurous Training or a broken finger from an organised inter-service athletics meet. More severe injuries will of course be more likely to warrant a pay-out but any injury or illness is worth claiming for. The death of a serviceman or woman can also be claimed for by the family of the deceased through the scheme. 

How much compensation is awarded? 

Military accident claims made through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme provide one of two types of compensation pay-out. 
  • Lump sum payments – this type of payment is made to compensate for the pain and suffering caused by an injury, illness or death while in military service. The amount of compensation awarded is proportional to the amount of pain/suffering endured and ranges from £1200 up to a maximum of £570,000. If more than one injury is sustained during an accident then each individual injury is compensated for, meaning it is worth claiming for every single injury regardless of how insignificant.
  • Guaranteed Income Payments – military accident claims that involve long term injury or illness can be awarded guaranteed income payments. This type of compensation is tax free and is paid every month from the time of discharge from the military until death. The amount awarded depends on a number of factors including how the injury or illness is predicted to affect job prospects in the future. 
 How to make a claim 

The easiest way to make a claim through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme is with the help of a specialist military accident claims solicitor. Remember, you only have 7 years from your accident to make a claim so the sooner you get the ball rolling the better. Families of those who die while in service only have 3 years to make a claim, making it vital to start a claim as soon as possible.

Monday, 25 February 2013

A Quick Guide to Industrial Injury Claims

Employees who have suffered a disability because of their work, or their work has caused them certain diseases, may be entitled to Industrial Injuries DisabilityBenefit (IIDB). Paid by the Department for Work and Pensions, the benefit is available to people who have become disabled due to an accident at work, in the course of their work or who have contracted certain industrial diseases during their time at work. 

How does IIDB assessment work?

In order to receive the IIDB, a person’s disability must be assessed by a doctor to see how strongly it affects their everyday life. This disablement will be given as a percentage but will not include any effects from a pre-existing or unrelated condition. This allows the doctor to give a level of disability that is directly related to the accident or disease that has been caused by the person’s work. The assessment carried out by a doctor could last for a fixed period or for life, depending on the extent of the disability. Should the disability caused by an accident or disease at work worsen, or when the fixed period ends, a person can be reassessed. 

Who can claim IIDB?

The Industrial Injuries Disability Benefit is only available to a person that has been assessed by a doctor and given a disablement percentage, directly attributed to their accident or disease, of at least 14%. Any disablement percentage of 14-19% will be rounded up to 20% for payment purposes. 

How much disablement benefit are you entitled to?

The amount of benefit received varies depending on the severity of the disability and the employee’s age. A starting point for consideration is that a person stated to have 100% disability due to an accident or diseased caused by work will be entitled to £158.10 a week. 

What can you used IIDB for?

Once a payment amount has been decided, the IIDB can be paid directly into a bank, Building Society or Post Office card account. It does not matter how much savings, other income or capital a person has, the IIDB can be spent as they wish. Should a person receive any means-tested income, such as income-related Housing Benefit or Pension Credit, the IIDB will be taken into account as a form of income. 

When can you claim?

Claims for the IIDB can be made at any time, regardless of whether the accident happened days or a disease was contracted years ago. However, the payment can only be backdated for three months prior to the claim date. Claimants do not need to explain why their application is late, they just need to request backdating at the time of the claim. 

What other financial help is available for work related disabilities?

Those that are entitled to the Industrial Injuries Disability Benefit may also qualify for other financial help. This help includes the Constant Attendance Allowance, Exceptionally Severe Disablement Allowance, Reduced Earnings Allowance and Retirement Allowance. People that have disabilities or diseases caused by work should contact the Department of Work and Pensions in order to find out what help they may be able to get.