All Posts in Category: Ireland Work Injuries

National Museum Fall Results in €67,000 Compensation Award for Tourist

A personal injury award of almost €67,000 has been approved at the High Court in favour of an Australian tourist who injured his leg when he slipped and rolled down stone stairs at the National Museum of Ireland.

Presiding Judge Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon said the Dublin museum’s Portland stone steps had been shiny and slippery when the tourist, Warren Baldwin (70), from Revesby, New South Wales, ruptured a leg tendon in the accident. Mr Baldwin suffered significant trauma, inconvenience and expense due to the accident that occurred on June 5, 2016, on the second day of Mr Baldwin’s trip to Ireland with his wife. He fell on the third step from the bottom of the staircase he was descending in the museum.

Justice O’Hanlon ruled that the accident was caused due to negligence in not have a railing in place for a person to hold onto the entire way down the seven-step staircase. The steps date to 1890, when the museum, located in Kildare Street building was built.

The Judge ruled that, had there been an adequate and safe handrail on the steps at the time the accident occurred, Mr Baldwin would not have sustained the injuries. She accepted the contention that because the railing stopped before the end of the staircase there was a tendency for people to move towards the centre portion. The wrought-iron bannister currently in place is topped by a wooden rail terminates at the third-last step where it joins a stone balustrade.

Legal Counsel for the National Museum of Ireland argued that the stairs did not have any defects at the time of the accident and that there was one handrail in place for people to hold onto. In addition to his they informed the judge that, out more than 470,000 people visiting the museum during 2016, Mr Baldwin was the only person who fell on the stairs.

Justice O’Hanlon awarded Mr Baldwin €66,989 as, she said, the museum failed in its duty to take reasonable care to ensure his safety.

 

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€9.9k Workplace Discrimination Compensation for Non-Irish National who was not given Holidays

A man, originally from Eastern Europe has been awarded almost €10,000 following a hearing at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) after it emerged that he was the only staff member at his company not receiving paid annual leave.

The WRC was advised that since he had begun working with the agricultural company, the man in question have received neither paid holidays nor payment in lieu. He told the WRC that he was the only non-Irish national working with the company.

The company under scrutiny did not appear to contest the claims that were being made by the man who claimed that he had suffered a work-related injury which caused him to leave his job, despite his employers arguing that incident had not occurred while he was at work. In addition to this he was not given a P45 after he left the role.

The man claimed in his submission that constantly worked for longer that 48 hours every week and would often be there long after other staff members had gone home. He said was only given paid leave once during his time at the company, during his first year in the job when he visited his home country.

The WRC adjudicator said: “He assumed that due to the plant being so busy that all the employees were treated like this, however this was not the case. In 2017 his Irish work colleague told him that if he were him, he would not continue to work for the respondent. This work colleague said that all workers are entitled to and received paid holidays. This was the first time that the complainant discovered this discrepancy in terms of less favourable employment terms.”

He told the WRC that his former employer claimed, in a meeting, that he was owed no money whatsoever. The WRC ruled that, due to the uncontested evidence regarding excessive working hours, the man was to be awarded €1,000 workplace discrimination compensation. Along with this he was also awarded €900 for the holiday pay he was not in receipt of.

Finally, the worker was awarded a sum of €8,000 for being treated differently to other workers. The adjudicator said: “I make this award taking into account the effects of the discriminatory conduct had upon the complainant, the fact that he suffered loss in terms of payment in lieu of holidays and to penalise the respondent in order that this conduct is not repeated in the future.”

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Restaurant Working Injury Settlement for Student Employed by Chinese Restaurant

A restaurant work injury compensation settlement has been agreed between a student, who was burned by hot oil and the Chinese takeaway he was employed at.

The work injury compensation case, which was being heard at the High Court, was told that the young man suffered burns when he unknowingly sat on a bucket of freshly discarded hot oil.

The High Court was told that the young man, Umesh Maharjan, was working to finance his studies in Fine Arts when he suffered the devastating injuries as the oil fell on his back and arm. Umesh experienced significant pain and sustained “grossly disfiguring” scars and wounds.

A native of Kathmandu, Nepal, Mr Maharjan was working at the Rathnew Chinese Takeaway in County Wicklow in order to support his time in University. Mr Maharjan (29), who lives at Dock Road, Limerick, submitted his restaurant employee injury compensation action against Rathnew Restaurant and Takeaway Ltd as a result of the accident in which he was burned with hot oil on August 21, 2015.

Senior Counsel Declan Doyle, legal representative for Mr Maharjan, told the High Court that he was taking a break at the back of the takeaway in an area where plastic buckets were kept for storage. A different member of the restaurant staff had placed a bucket of hot cooking oil from a deep-fat fryer there, unbeknownst to Mr Maharjan, and he sat on top of upon it. When he did so the lid shifted and he (Mr Maharajan) fell backwards and the oil fell all over his back and left arm.

Due to the accident Mr Maharjan suffered significant injuries and burns that will stay with him for the rest of his life. His colleagues came to help him when the accident occurred and used water to cool the areas of his body that were burned before taking him to hospital.

Justice Michael Hanna was told by legal representatives that the issue of liability had been withdrawn and the case was before the court for assessment of damages. Mr Doyle SC told that Justice Hanna that the case had been settled and could be dismissed.

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Landlord who Refused Rent Allowance Payment from Family Ordered to Pay €14,000

Following denying a family the opportunity pay a percentage of their rent through rent allowance for a 15-month period, a landlord has been ordered to pay them €14,000 in compensation.

Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) adjudication officer Ewa Sobanska issued a ruling stating that the landlord must pay €7,000 to each parent as she found the discrimination “to be at the more serious end of the scale”. She  added that she was awarding the compensation after taking into account the financial suffering, stress, inconvenience and financial and emotional pressures sustained by the married couple due to the landlord’s refusal to participate in the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme.

The married couple had initially asked the landlord to allow them pay rent allowance through HAP in May 2017. Hap is a scheme where landlords must register to allow their tenants participate. However, the couple have alleged that in March 2018 they received a letter from their landlord with the words “there is your HAP” written on the envelope. Upon opening it they discovered that it was an eviction letter.

The couple had agreed to a long-term rent deal of €950 monthly in December 2015 with the landlord.

The couple – who have four children aged 13, nine, six and two – were having difficulty is paying the rent and asked the landlord in May 2017 about availing of HAP and he replied: “We can talk but it’s most unlikely that I will be doing HAP.”

Following this, in January 2017, the couple sent on to the landlord correspondence from the agency Threshold advising that “a landlord must accept HAP and to refuse this is considered discrimination”.

After the ‘termination’ letter that the landlord sent in March 2017, he (the landlord) wrote to the couple to inform them that he did not refuse to facilitate the HAP assistance application but could not do so due to not having a Tax Clearance Certificate. He further stated that he had been making attempts to address this and the request for HAP assistance “has absolutely nothing to do with ending your tenancy”.

The landlord has been given 42 days in which to make the €14,000 compensation payment to the couple in question.

 

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€105,000 Workplace Accident Compensation Award for Former Supermarket Worker Following Cold Room Injury

€105,000 Workplace Accident Compensation Award for Former Supermarket Worker Following Cold Room Injury

The Court of Appeal (CoA) has upheld a €105,000 workplace accident award for a former part-time supermarket employee who suffered an injury when she fell while driving a pallet truck holding stock.

Pamela Phoenix, a 37-year-old female now living in Canada, and formerly of McDonnell Drive, Athy, Co Kildare, took the legal accident against Dunnes Stores in relation to the accident that occurred on September 18, 2006. Ms Phoenix was attempting to move the pallet truck backwards in a cold room when she slipped and fell heavily on her bottom and back.

Ms Phoenix was awarded her €105,929 workplace accident compensation in the High Court in 2016 after that court accepted that she suffered chronic back pain and depressive symptomatology due to the accident. By October 2007 she had gained a considerable amount of weight. The judge stated that he felt she was a credible witness who did not exaggerate the extent of her injuries.

The workplace compensation award was appealed by Dunnes. They argued that the cold room accident compensation award was excessive and disproportionate.

Mr Justice Gerard Hogan, speaking on behalf of the three-judge Court of Appeal, upheld the workplace compensation award saying while it was probably in the upper range of what is appropriate, given the role of an appeallate court in other case law, the Court of Appeal cannot take any action.

Following the accident Ms Phoenix was rushed by ambulance to St Lukes’ hospital in Kilkenny. Her X-rays came back clear and she was discharged with some pain-killing medication. In the days following the accident she had to use crutches to get around.

She had difficulty re-assuming the same workload that she had managed before the accident and changed jobs to a role with Elverys. In 2007, still suffering from a considerable amount of back pain, she lost that role. She also has difficulty in continuing her studies at Maynooth University and became very psychologically vulnerable, eventually suffering from depressions when she became pregnant and suffered a miscarriage in 2008. She eventually moved to Canada in 2013 where she married and had a baby boy in 2016.

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Personal Injury Compensation Payout Details Must Be Made Public: PIC

The Personal Injuries Commission (PIC) has called for injury data held by insurance companies to be collated and published.

In its first report from the PIC recommended that data relating to the incidence of ‘whiplash’ and other soft tissue injuries should be made available to the public.

Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns chairs the Commission which was set up to address the rising cost of motor insurance premiums. Justice Kearns said that such data should be made available from insurers so that it can form part of the National Claims Information Database which is being developed by the Central Bank of Ireland at present.

The report finds that the figures being awarded for whiplash claims should correlate to the severity of the injury, with a standardised grading scheme set up to achieve this. It states there needs to be more transparency in relation to payouts for whiplash injuries as levels of general damages are not included in legislation. Award levels are determined ultimately by judicial decisions.

LEGAL FIRMS UNHAPPY WITH REPORT

Separately lawyers that deal with in personal injury compensation cases have hit out at  Personal Injuries Commission’s first recommendations to the Government.

Associate solicitor at Cantillons Solicitors Jody Cantillon, stated: “Firstly, the basis for the Personal Injuries Commission seems to us to be flawed in that the rise in insurance premiums has nothing at all to do with personal injuries litigation.

In relation to the report itself, Mr Cantillon remarked: “We are surprised at the Commission’s ‘recommendation’ that the sums awarded in whiplash claims should be linked to the severity of the condition. This is already the case, so there is nothing new there.

He added “We would have grave concerns about a standardised approach to the diagnosis, treatment and reporting of soft tissue injuries. No one person or injury is the same. The impact that a back injury might have on a new mother is different to the impact such an injury might have on a young man. A standardised approach would not take sufficient consideration of the individuals circumstances.

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State Compensation Claims Costs Increased to €2.2bn during 2016

Compensation claims taken against the Health Service Executive (HSE) and child protection agency Tusla accounted for €1.9 billion of the €2.2 billion total paid out by the State in 2016 according to a report recently released by the State Claims Agency. This is an increase of 22 per cent.

The agency reported that the complete cost, at the end of 2016, of outstanding compensation claims against the State had risen 22 per cent to €2.2 billion.

Séamus McCarthy Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) stated that “the number of claims under management has increased significantly since 2011”. The State Claims Agency manages legal actions taken against the State. The body’s most recent set of accounts also shows that the number and cost of legal actions involving public bodies have been rising steadily in recent years.

Compensation awards and legal costs past out by the agency paid out in 2016 amounted to €256.2 million, roughly 20 per cent up on the 2015 figures. Additionally the figures released show an increase in the number of legal actions pending against the State of almost 3,000 from the 2011 figures. In 2011 there were 6,000 actions taken, compared to 8,900 in 2016.

Claims against the Department of Health accounted for €27 million. Cases against the Department of Education had an estimated bill of €50 million. Other government departments and bodies were responsible for compensation cases worth €27 million.

The State Claims Agency was established by the Irish Government in 2001 as a reaction to the surge in numbers of compensation claims being taken against the State. The body is part of the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), the body that borrows funds for the Government and helps manage the State’s finances.

The body mainly deals with compensation claims involving personal injury, clinical negligence and property damage taken against State bodies.

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Injuries Board Awards Increase by 8 Percent

Injuries Board awards of compensation have increased by more than 8 percent during the first six months of the year according to a report published on the government body´s website.

Both the total number of applications for assessment (16,162) and the average value of Injuries Board awards (€22,349) increased in relation to the corresponding period in 2012, but Patricia Byron – CEO of the Injuries Board in Ireland – commented that the higher volume of claims and increased value of accepted compensation assessments did not provide an excuse for insurance companies to increase the premiums they charge.

She said that, as the Board´s processing fee for respondents had been reduced from €850.00 to €600.00, the savings made by insurance companies should counter the increased value of Injuries Board claims and added that early indications from the third quarter of 2013 show a general decline in the number of applications for assessment being received by the Injuries Board.

The highest proportion of Injuries Board awards were made for traffic accident compensation claims (75.5 percent), with claims for injuries sustained in public places (public liability claims) accounting for 16.4 percent of accepted Injuries Board assessments and the balance (8.1 percent) being made up of awards of compensation for accidents at work.

One figure understandably not highlighted by the Injuries Board is that the percentage of accepted assessments (Injuries Board awards that plaintiffs agree to) fell from 37.2 percent in 2012 to 32.7 percent in 2013 – a statistic that would indicate a higher proportion of claims for personal injury compensation are being settled outside of the Injuries Board process.

However, it should be noted that – even if you are in advanced stages of negotiating a compensation settlement with an insurance company – an application for assessment should still be submitted to the Injuries Board. If your negotiations are unsuccessful, and court action is required to resolve your claim, you (or your solicitor) will require that an Authorisation” is issued by the Injuries Board before court action can proceed.

Please also note that the Injuries Board does not accept applications for assessment when plaintiffs have sustained a loss, injury or the deterioration of an existing condition due to medical negligence, and it is always recommended that you seek the advice of a solicitor in these circumstances.

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Injury Compensation Claims for Whiplash Dropping According to Government Statistics

Figures released by the Department for Works and Pensions Compensation Recovery Unit have revealed that claims for whiplash injury compensation have fallen year-on-year by more than 4 percent.

A total of 547,405 claims for whiplash injury compensation were recorded by the Compensation Recovery Unit in 2011/2012, whereas in the previous twelve months 571,111 whiplash injury compensation claims were registered.

The fall in the volume of claims for whiplash injury compensation was noted by president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) – Karl Tonks – when he was giving evidence to a Transport Select Committee ahead of the latest amendments to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill 2012.

Mr Tonks also produced the results of a survey prepared on behalf of APIL by market research company Canadean which showed that 40 percent of people eligible to make claims for whiplash injury compensation declined to do so. The survey also revealed that 1 percent of respondents to the survey had suffered a whiplash injury in the past twelve months, while 20 percent of those had experienced a whiplash injury in the past suffered symptoms of their whiplash injury for more than twelve months.

The Government is expected to announce plans for new specialist medical panels to support improvements in the diagnosis of whiplash and to increase from 1,000 pounds to 5,000 pounds the value up to which claims can be handled by the small claims court, but Mr Tonks warned the Transport Select Committee that the Government could be embarking on a potentially damaging reform agenda.

Acknowledging that a “universal commitment was required to reduce the number of fraudulent claims for whiplash injury compensation, Mr Tonks added “But it’s even more important to stand firm against any move to put barriers in the way of the majority of people who have genuine injuries and who need to make genuine claims.” Mr Tonks presented a ten point plan to the Transport Select Committee which he hoped could be discussed with the Government.

1. Information on fraud to be freely available to all parties to help identify fraudsters

2. Claimants to be subject to a legally binding statement of truth

3. Ban insurers from paying compensation without medical evidence

4. No offers of gifts or cash to potential clients to be made by any party

5. Enforcement of future ban preventing insurers from selling claimants´ details

6. Identities of potential expert witnesses to be shared by both sides

7. New guidance to help medics identify and understand whiplash injury

8. Photo ID to be provided when attending a medical

9. Claimant´s solicitor to organise access to relevant medical records

10. Spam texting to be banned

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