Electrical Injury at Work
If you or a family member has been injured while working as an electrician, contact our electrical injury at work solicitors as early as possible to pursue a claim.
Electrical shock is one of the leading causes of work-related injury, comprising 7% of all workplace fatalities.
What is an electrical injury?
Electrical injury occurs when the body experiences levels of current that will alter the electrophysiological function or cause tissue damage.
In general tissue damage depends on the strength of the electrical field, the frequency and duration of current flow, and the tissue type that has been exposed. Most common injuries result from contact with commercial electrical power sources in the home and the workplace.
Nerves and muscles communicate via small electrical pulses. An abnormal electrical current can directly stimulate nerves and muscles.
When direct muscle stimulation occurs, the brain is no longer in control of the muscle and the person being shocked cannot move the hand away from the power source. This is known as a ‘not let go’ phenomenon.
Even when the injury does not involve any visible tissue damage, electrical trauma survivors may be left with significant consequences.
Even brief electrical shocks may result in permanent damage to components of the nervous system, resulting in subtle abnormalities or persistent pain. The impact of electrical shock on brain function can be immediate or delayed depending on the path of the current.
Accidents in the Workplace Compensation
Unfortunately, safe working practices are not always followed, resulting in serious accidents and leaving workers with catastrophic injuries or illnesses that can result in loss of income or even life.
You may be eligible for compensation if your employer is found to be negligent or liable for your injuries.
This can be direct, such as an injury to yourself, or indirect, the grief you feel after a bereavement caused by someone else’s negligence.
If you have been involved in an accident or suffered an injury at the hands of another person, and if you have any questions surrounding the claim process, speak with one of our experienced personal injury claim solicitors, call (Free Phone) 1800 844 104 or complete our online enquiry form.
Electrical injury claim application process in Ireland
1. Contact our accidents in the workplace solicitor:
Our accidents in the workplace solicitors are experts in advising clients on how to make these claims. Many people use a solicitor to aid with this application process as a lot of paperwork and filing are required, and our expert team is on hand to make the process as smooth as possible.
2. The PIAB Application:
The next step is to make an application to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB). If your personal injury claim concerns anything other than medical negligence, some assaults, and some cases of entirely psychological injury, then your claim can be brought through PIAB. Examples of claims that PIAB covers include:
- Workplace injury
- Road traffic accidents
- Catastrophic injury
- Accidents in public places
3. Submitting information and documents to PIAB:
Your solicitor will obtain evidence, medical reports, and other expert reports required. And submits these documents to the Board for Assessment.
4. Consent to assess the claim:
Once the application is made, PIAB issue a formal notification of claim to the defendant(s). The defendant(s) must indicate within 90 days whether or not they consent or not to the assessment of the claim. If the defendant consents, then PIAB will proceed to assess the claim. If they decline to have the case assessed, the PIAB will issue an Authorisation to allow the claimant to issue court proceedings.
5. Claim assessment time:
If PIAB is assessing the claim, this will usually take about 9 months. They will then issue their Assessment of your claim, this amount reflects general and special damages awarded in respect of your claim. If the Assessment is accepted by both parties, the PIAB will issue an Order to Pay. The Order to Pay has the same status as an Order of the Court, and must be discharged by the defendant(s) within 10 days. A settlement cheque will then be issued to the claimant.
If the Assessment is rejected by either party, an Authorisation will be granted by PIAB to bring court proceedings.
How much compensation can I receive for an electrical injury in Ireland?
How much compensation you receive for an accident in the workplace is dictated by two legally binding documents known as:
The “Book of Quantum” and
The recently published Personal Injuries Guidelines by the Judicial Council of Ireland.
The Book of Quantum dictates how much compensation you are owed if your Authorisation was received from PIAB prior to the 21st of April 2021. In all other cases, compensation in respect of general damages is assessed with the aid of the Judicial council’s Personal Injuries Guidelines.
The Book of Quantum sets out general guidelines as to the amounts that may be awarded or assessed in Personal Injury Claims. The guidelines are divided into sections depending on what category of injury was suffered, e.g., head injuries, neck injuries, back injuries and spinal fractures, upper limb injuries, lower limb injuries, and body and internal organs. The Book of Quantum sets out 4 steps to assess what compensation is appropriate for the suffered injury. These steps are as follows:
- Identify the category of injury
- Assess the severity of the injury (through medical reports and records)
- Research the value range
- Consider the effect of multiple injuries
The Personal Injuries Guidelines were adopted by The Judicial Council on the 6th of March 2021. Similar to the Book of Quantum, this legal document sets out guidelines for assessing compensation in respect of general damages. The general principles for this assessment centre on three criteria:
- Awards of damages must be fair and reasonable to both the claimant and the defendant(s)
- Awards must be proportionate to the injuries sustained
- Awards must be compared on a scale of injuries that are both of a lesser and greater magnitude
One of the most substantial differences brought about by this update is that the average level of damages awarded has been reduced. The new guidelines have, however, provided more detail and more explanation for claimants, which is overall a welcomed change to the process of making a personal injury claim.
An employer has a number of responsibilities
Employer Liability / Employer Responsibility
Employers’ responsibilities to workers have evolved over the years in the civil courts, and the employer’s duty of care to each of his employees can be reduced to five headings.
Put simply, the employer must provide:
- Safe systems of work,
- A safe place of work,
- Plant and machinery that is safe to use,
- Competent supervision and/or suitable training and,
- Care in the selection of fellow employees.
All claims involving accidents in the workplace (employer liability cases) must be submitted to Personal Injuries Assessment Board before starting legal proceedings.
Employers must ensure the minimum health and safety standards in order to prevent (as much as possible) their employees from being injured due to an accident at work.
Under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005, employers have a duty to ensure their employee’s safety, health, and welfare at work as far as is reasonably practicable.
In order to prevent workplace injuries and ill health, you are required, among other things, to
- Provide and maintain a safe workplace, machinery, and equipment
- Prevent risks from use of any article or substance and from exposure to physical agents, noise, and vibration
- Prevent any improper conduct or behavior likely to put the safety, health, and welfare of employees at risk (“horseplay” and bullying at work come within these categories)
- Provide instruction and training to employees on health and safety
- Provide protective clothing and equipment to employees (at no cost to employees)
- Appoint a competent person as the organisation’s Safety Officer
Claiming compensation for a work accident or injury
There are four main components to an injury compensation settlement.
- Compensation for General pain and damages is calculated using the Book of Quantum (a publication that lists a variety of injuries and assigns them a financial value depending on the severity of the injury)
- Compensation for the non-financial changes you had to make in your life as a result of the injury – e.g., unable to complete domestic tasks, unable to participate in leisure pursuits or enjoy social events that would be a part of your normal routine, loss of amenity – such as being unable to care for your young children or elderly, or if you’re depressed due to incapacitation.
- Compensation for any emotional trauma that you may have been diagnosed with due to the nature of the accident, how the accident had occurred, or development while you were in recovery. These are known as psychological injuries. It typically takes time to manifest and the consequences can be debilitating.
- Compensation of special damages to recover any expenses you may have incurred or may incur in the future as a result of your injury – such as loss of income, medical fees, therapy costs, pharmacy costs, using other forms of transport due to being unable to drive, and even restructuring your home if your accident has left you confined to a wheelchair.
These are generally the main examples of compensation under the four main components of an injury compensation settlement.
It is advisable to speak to a solicitor to determine which type of expenses can be recovered, and it is highly recommended to keep all receipts for anything you spend on (such as medical fees, pharmacy costs, transport costs, etc.) during the recovery of your injury at work. Having the receipts will smoothen the process of your solicitor negotiating the best and fairest possible settlement for you in all circumstances.
Claim advise for accidents in the workplace
If you decide to pursue a workplace injury claim, it is important to note that no two work compensation claims are likely to be the same, even when the injury sustained is identical. This is because of other factors such as your employment status, direct approaches from insurance companies, and sometimes, even your profession.
Therefore, it is advisable for you to speak to an experienced solicitor and seek legal advice regarding workplace injuries as soon as possible after receiving medical attention and treatment you need.
Most solicitors will offer a free initial evaluation of your situation and advise you whether you have potential legal action and whether you qualify for a successful workplace injury compensation.
After you decide that you would like to pursue a workplace injury claim with a solicitor acting on your behalf, your solicitor will advise you on the procedures you should take to support your claims and typically act on your behalf to gather relevant documents and witnesses to ensure you get the best and fairest settlement for your workplace injury while you recover.
Statute of limitations for a workplace injury claim
You have two years from the date of the accident within which to issue proceedings. If you are under 18, a separate set of rules apply, and we would recommend you contact our solicitors to discuss these. To learn more about the statute of limitation for a nerve damage claim, click here.
Choosing a solicitor for an electrical injury at work
If you have experienced injury or an accident in the workplace and have questions surrounding the incident, please contact our workplace injury solicitors at Coleman Legal to find out if you have a potential legal action against your employer. Our dedicated team has a collective experience of over 30 years, and we are ready to advise and assist you with your claim.
If you want to take legal action over an injury, you should consult our accidents in the workplace solicitors, who are members of the Law Society’s injury accreditation scheme and clinical negligence accreditation scheme.
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Accidents in the workplace claim FAQs
Is my Employer Covered with Insurance?
An employer is legally required to provide you with a safe place of work and a safe system of work. Historically agency workers were treated in an entirely different manner to those workers who were hired directly into the workforce.
Whilst the employment agency is the employer, the company is also responsible for breaches of the Safety, Health, and Welfare at Work Act, 2005.
Your right to being protected under Health and Safety Regulations are the responsibility of both the company company where you are doing the temporary work and the agency.
What is Employers Liability Insurance?
Employers Liability Insurance provides cover in case an employee is injured or killed at work or develops an illness associated from their job. For instance, if an employee is injured in your warehouse and your business is found to be negligent, Employers Liability would protect your business. The standard level of cover is €13 million, again this figure can be increased if required.
The definition of an employee within insurance typically covers any individual that is hired under a contract or apprenticeship scheme once this work falls within the business description.
Contributory Negligence and Claims for Injuries
Sometimes, there can be disagreement between the employer and employee in regards to who is responsible for the accident that caused the injury (when there is doubt as to who is responsible). In this case, the court may decide or the parties may ultimately agree that both the employer and employee are liable for the employee’s injury and hence the principle of contributory negligence will apply.
Contributory negligence is the legal principle where the injured party (employee) may have possibly contributed to their own injury by acting in a negligent manner, whether through conducting work when there are obvious and known risks, improper behaviour that will endanger themselves or others, failure to report any defects in equipment or place of work that may be a danger to health and safety to themselves or others, working under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and failure to seek the appropriate medical attention within a reasonable time frame, which can exacerbate the severity of the injury.
If you have concerns regarding whether you qualify for compensation for a work injury, or whether you may have contributed to either the cause of the accident or the severity of the injury, it is advisable to speak to a solicitor.
Liability for Injuries at Work
After establishing that a physical or psychological injury has been sustained at or from work, then the liability of the injury must be determined. Liability refers to the state of being responsible for something. Injuries at work do not always have to be a result of direct or indirect action from the employer. It can also be sustained through an unsafe working environment which would be a breach of duty by the employer under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005.
For a personal injury claim to be successful, the injury sustained must result from the negligence of someone who had a duty of care to the injured party.
A breach of the act includes not providing or maintaining a safe workplace, machinery, and equipment, inadequate prevention of risks that could cause harm to the employee’s health such as exposure to physical agents, loud noises, vibration and unsafe use of any article or substance, not preventing any improper conduct or behaviour that could cause harm to employees such as bullying and sexual harassment, inadequate training and instruction for employees to do their job safely and failure to provide personal protective equipment to the employee, amongst many.
The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 strictly provides the guidelines in protecting employees. In all of the cases above, there is a lack of reasonably practicable care for the employee’s health, safety and welfare from the employer’s end. If the negligent employer fails to take necessary precautions to prevent employees from possible injury, the liability hence falls on the employer.
In the case where the employee themselves have partially contributed to the risk of their injury, then it is known as Contributory Negligence and the liability will also fall on the employee.
Electrical Injury at Work – News & Updates
A High Court action has been settled for €700,000 for a boy who electrocuted himself when he hammered a nail into an ESB pole. While playing with friends in a wooded area near his home, Kurt O’Callaghan was making a camp and decided to put up a ‘Keep Out’ sign. When he struck the nail with the hammer, he hit and cable and was thrown backward, and suffered severe burn injuries. Subsequent to these initial injuries he had multiple operations and skin grafts to burn areas on his head, neck, shoulders, and hands.
The incident which happened near his hometown of Wexford in 2008, at which time Kurt was aged just 10 years old, occurred as he climbed onto a low boundary wall to a housing estate to gain access to the ESB pole.
It was alleged that the ESB had failed to inspect the wall or the electricity pole in order to detect the allegedly dangerous nature of the wall’s proximity to the nearby electrical pole and particularly the presence of high-velocity cables.
Senior Counsel in the case, Michael Counihan, stated that there is a statutory requirement to ensure electricity poles are protected up to three metres from the ground. An electrical engineer acting for the plaintiff believed the ESB should have spotted that there was access to the pole if a person was climbing on the nearby boundary wall.
The victim of this tragedy was believed to be in his late 50’s from the Ballinasloe area of County Galway and was married with a family.
Two men working for a contractor were carrying out work on behalf of ESB networks. It is understood they were erecting a pole to carry power to a new house in the area. The victim was operating a JCB to lift a timber pole into place, and whilst doing so the pole touched overhead wires that were carrying 10,000 volts. Tragically, the man was pronounced dead at the scene.
Tragically, a young landscape gardener was killed when he picked up a damaged electrical cable when it was live. Rory Davies, 25, was working in Bantry when the fatal incident occurred in 2009.
In 2014, at a Cork Circuit Court hearing, the deceased’s employer, Paul Dyer, pleaded guilty to three health and safety offences, for which he was given a one-year suspended jail sentence.
On the day of the incident back in 2009, the deceased was working in the garden, and power from a cable plugged into a domestic shed supply was used for a power washer and a cement mixer.
The defendant paid monies to the deceased’s mother for three years following the incident and also contributed €5,000 towards the man’s funeral.
Sadly, electrical accidents and fatalities are more common than we may initially be aware. It is essential to be cautious when working with electrical equipment both in a professional capacity and in the home.
*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement. This statement is made in compliance with RE.8 of SI 518 of 2002.