Welding Injury Compensation
It is possible to claim welding injury compensation in the UK if you have been injured in a welding accident which was caused by third party negligence. Oxyacetylene torches used for welding and metal cutting operate at approximately 3,500 degrees centigrade. They can become highly dangerous when not properly maintained or used incorrectly and when used without adequate personal protection in a poorly ventilated work environment.
However it is often not the temperature of an oxyacetylene torch that causes a welder to be injured, but the intense UV light that is emitted when welding. Such intense light can cause burning of a different kind, with the retinas of the eyes easily sustaining permanently damage from the intense light. When welding masks are damaged or the arc is viewed without a protective mask in place, the intense light can all too easily cause permanent eye damage and blindness.
Any use of highly flammable gasses under pressure is dangerous, and damage to gas cylinders, tubes or welding torches can cause devastating injuries to be sustained when a welding accident occurs. Welding fumes can also result in serious injuries being sustained, with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) linked to exposure to welding fumes. Welders are also at an increased risk of developing lobar pneumonia from welding fumes according to the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council (IIAC).
If you have been injured in a welding accident and the accident was not entirely your fault, or developed a work related welding illness due to your work environment, you could be eligible to make a claim for welding injury compensation and should seek professional legal advice from a personal injury solicitor about doing so.
When Welding Injury Compensation is Typically Awarded
Welding injury compensation is not only applicable to welders. Non-welders can also claim welding injury compensation when they have been injured by fumes, UV radiation or the intense heat from welding torches, hot metals which have been recently welded or from hot metal slag and flying particles. Welding injury compensation is most frequently awarded in the UK for the following injuries:
- Lung diseases such as COPD and lobar pneumonia from welding fumes
- Burns from hot metal and welding torches
- Injuries sustained in fires caused by sparks from welding torches
- Injuries sustained in oxyacetylene gas explosions
- Blindness and eye injuries caused by UV radiation
- Eye injuries from flying particles such as metal slag
- Injuries sustained from fumes, vapour or chemicals used in welding
- Welder’s flash and arc eye (Photokeratitis)
When an injury has been sustained or an industrial disease has been contracted due to the negligence of an employer or other third party, and the accident should have been foreseeable and preventable, it should be possible to make a welding injury compensation claim. Provided that a duty of care existed to protect a worker and this was breached, and the breach in a duty of care resulted in an injury being sustained, a claim for welding injury compensation will be possible and should have a good chance of success.
Employer Liability Claims for Welding Injury Compensation
Welding accidents are often attributed to failures by an employer to reduce risks to employees. An employer is bound by the Health and Safety at Work Etc Act (1974) to take all reasonable steps to reduce the chance of accidents in the workplace occurring and is duty bound to conduct risk assessments, provide appropriate safety equipment and to ensure that all equipment is properly maintained.
When lapses in standards occur which result in injuries being sustained to workers, it is deemed to be a failure in a duty of care and employer liability claims can be made for welding injury compensation. Employer liability claims can also be made when an employer has failed to protect other workers, such as by ensuring that there is adequate ventilation to allow welding fumes to escape and that protective screens are installed to prevent hot metal fragments and sparks from causing injuries or starting fires.
Adequate training needs to be provided and an employer must ensure that workers are capable of following instructions and performing a job correctly. When an incapable employee is given a task or when training has been substandard and a welding accident has occurred, it may also be possible to claim welding injury compensation and legal advice should be sought about doing so.
Welding Injury Compensation and Contributory Negligence
Welding is a dangerous profession and the risk of injury can never be totally eliminated. Accidents are always possible, especially when there is a lapse in concentration by a welder or when health and safety equipment has not been used correctly. Just as employers have responsibilities to protect their workers, employees too have a duty to ensure that they take all reasonable steps to prevent accidents from occurring. When an employee contributes to the cause of an accident or the severity of their injuries sustained, it is termed contributory negligence. Contributory negligence can see a reduction in how much compensation for a welding injury is paid to an employee to take any personal negligence into account.
Claiming Welding Injury Compensation for Loss of Earnings
Many accident victims need to make claims for welding injury compensation to recover loss of earnings in addition to recovering expenses which have been incurred as a result of a welding accident. Loss of earnings and expenses can be claimed as welding injury compensation special damages. Special damages are concerned with providing compensation for any financial outlay which is necessary as a result of an injury to ensure that the victim is in no worse financial position than if the accident had not occurred.
Any expense – past or future – can be included in a claim for welding injury compensation special damages provided that it is directly attributable to the accident or injury, and if it can be supported by receipts, bills or invoices. General damages are claimed separately, and these are concerned with providing recompense for pain, suffering and any loss of amenity.
Welding Injury Compensation Settlements
Insurance companies are responsible for paying compensation for a welding injury rather than the negligent third party who caused the accident, and it is the reason why insurance policies are mandatory for all employers and businesses. However insurance companies are businesses too; and they are all keen to limit losses and increase company profits. It is therefore in the interests of an insurance company to try to limit any welding injury compensation payments, and one tactic often used is termed ‘Third Party Capture’. Third party capture involves the insurance company making a reduced offer of welding injury compensation to the victim in exchange for an early settlement.
It is rarely in the best interests of the victim to accept such a payment, as making a legal claim for welding injury compensation will usually result in a much more appropriate compensation award. Early offers of welding injury compensation should always be assessed by a personal injury compensation solicitor to ensure that they are adequate and fair. The potential for under-settling of a welding injury compensation claim is high with these early compensation offers, and in many cases the compensation offered will be insufficient to cover the full extent of the injuries sustained and what could be a lifetime of medical treatment and loss of earnings.
Why Use A Personal Injury Solicitor to Claim Welding Injury Compensation?
Although it is possible in the UK to claim compensation for a welding injury without the services of a personal injury solicitor, the majority of claims are pursued with professional legal representation. Making a claim for welding injury compensation is rarely a straightforward process, and the experience and skill of a personal injury solicitor can greatly increase both the chances of success and of receiving a fair compensation settlement. Claims for welding injury compensation tend to run more smoothly when pursued by a personal injury solicitor and usually result in an out of court compensation settlement being reached before court litigation is necessary.
Many personal injury compensation solicitors can pursue welding injury compensation claims on a No Win No Fee basis. No Win No Fee is a conditional fee arrangement which will see a solicitor waive legal fees in the event that a claim is unsuccessful. Since a solicitor’s legal fees will be covered by the losing party in a successful claim, making No Win No Fee claims for compensation is usually the best choice for a welding accident victim. When you speak with a personal injury solicitor about making a claim for welding injury compensation you should ask if your claim qualifies for No Win No Fee representation.
All articles are written or edited by Eoin Campbell.