Introduction to Compensation for Ladder Injuries at Work
A claim for compensation for ladder injuries at work can be one of the most difficult personal injury claims to compile. It has the potential to include issues surrounding your health, the negligence of your employer or other person of responsibility, your relationship with work colleagues and your long term financial security. To overlook any part of a work ladder injuries claim could result in your ladder injury at work compensation settlement being inadequate to pay for medical care or support your family.
For this reason, it is always in your best interests to seek legal advice whenever you have sustained an injury in a ladder accident at work for which you were not to blame. No two claims for ladder injuries at work compensation are identical, and inasmuch as the article below gives an overview of the procedures for making a work ladder injuries compensation claim and how much compensation you may be entitled to receive, it is no substitute for an individual assessment of your claim for work ladder injuries.
Your Health comes before a Claim for Work Ladder Injuries
Although in most cases of ladder injuries at work, common sense would prevail and an ambulance summoned or a colleague take you to the accident and emergency department of the local hospital, there are some who are so focused on their work that they attempt to work through the pain and seek medical attention later. Others believe that because they have received first aid for their ladder injuries at work they have no need to go to hospital, but there are good reasons for seeking professional medical attention at the earliest possible opportunity.
Not only is it essential for your health that you undergo a professional medical examination as soon as possible after an accident with a ladder, but it may also harm your claim for work ladder injuries if you delay a medical examination of fail to see a doctor at all. Without evidence of an injury recorded in your medical records it is impossible to claim for work ladder injuries and, if a medical examination is delayed without good reason, it could be alleged by your employer that you made the injury worse by your own lack of care – or that your injury was sustained somewhere other than at work.
Eligibility to Claim for Ladder Injuries at Work
Your eligibility to claim for ladder injuries at work depends on the diagnosis of your injury being recorded in your medical notes and that an employer — either directly or indirectly — was responsible for those injuries occurring. There are a number of ways in which an employer´s negligence can be responsible for ladder injuries at work. The following are just a few examples:-
Unfooted Ladder Accidents
Unfooted ladder accidents can result in substantial injuries when the base of a ladder slips away from the wall, causing the person working on the ladder to fall from height.
Ladders not Footed Properly
Similar catastrophic injuries can be sustained when ladders are not footed properly — for example, using a dead weight to weight down the base of the ladder which is not appropriate for the job.
Ladders not Lashed Properly
Ladders not lashed properly can cause ladder injuries at work if the ties used to secure the ladders are attached to the rungs of the ladder rather than the stiles.
Ladders not Secured Properly
Accidents most frequently happen on ladders not secured properly, but other factors such as adverse weather conditions and using the wrong ladder for the job can also result in ladder accidents at work.
Accidents from Broken Ladders
Part of an employer´s responsibility for health and safety is to prevent accidents from broken ladders by organising an inspection schedule, making sure that broken ladders are taken out of service and that ladders still in use are stored in accordance with the manufacturer´s instructions.
Step Ladder Accidents
Step ladder accidents occur most frequently according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) due to improper use (including working sideways on), working from the top steps of stepladders without hand holds, wearing inappropriate footwear and for loading up the stepladder with too much weight for too long a period of time.
The HSE believes that many ladder injuries at work are attributable to the misuse of ladders at home. Ladders at home and ladders at work are two very different tools, and the HSE goes to great lengths to provide information for employers on how risks should be assessed, training provided and supervision maintained to prevent employees developing bad habits when using ladders at work, or regressing into unsafe practices they may have used at home.
Should an employer fail in any of his responsibilities to make working at height as safe as possible or neglect to follow the guidelines and regulations for employee safety, you will be eligible to claim for ladder injuries at work if you are injured in an accident for which you were not primarily to blame.
How to Proceed with a Work Ladder Injuries Claim
If you have been diagnosed with an injury which is attributable to your employer´s negligence there are several procedures you should follow to support your work ladder injuries claim. The first, if your injuries permit, is to make a report of your work ladder accident in your employer´s “Accident Report Book”. Your report enables you to relate your version of what caused the work ladder accident and how it could have been avoided. If you are unable to write this report, somebody acting on your behalf may be able to make it for you.
Again if your injuries permit, you — or somebody on your behalf – should take photographs of the scene of your ladder at work accident and compile a list of colleagues who were either working with you at the time of your accident or who witnessed your injury and would be prepared to give evidence if necessary that your work ladder injury was attributable to your employer´s negligence.
Most ladder at work injuries should be reported by your employer to the HSE under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) and it could be possible that the HSE will launch an investigation into your work ladder injuries claim. It cannot be relied upon that the HSE will investigate a solitary ladder at work accident, so it is advisable to discuss the circumstances of your injuries with a solicitor as soon as you have received medical treatment.
Procedures for a Ladder Injuries at Work Claim
How smoothly the procedures go for a ladder injuries at work claim is going to depend on your employer and his insurance company accepting liability for your injuries and then agreeing to your solicitor´s assessment of how much compensation for ladder injuries at work you are entitled to receive.
Once your injury and your employer´s negligence are confirmed, your solicitor will send a Letter of Claim to your employer, who has twenty-days in which to initially reply to the letter and then a further three months to accept or deny his liability for your work ladder accident.
Once liability for your ladder injuries at work is accepted, your solicitor will calculate how much compensation for work ladder injuries you are entitled to and present an offer of settlement to your employer´s insurance company. If the offer of settlement is accepted, you should receive your ladder injuries at work compensation without any further delays but, if the amount of compensation cannot be agreed upon, it may be necessary to resolve your claim for work ladder injuries in court.
If your employer denies that his lack of care was responsible for your injuries, it is likely that your solicitor will issue court proceedings immediately. Frequently the issuing of court proceedings is sufficient to encourage negotiation and, as your employer will be under pressure from his Employer´s Liability insurance company to avoid court action, both parties may be able to avoid litigation and agree a ladder injury compensation settlement.
In the majority of ladder injuries at work claims court action is unnecessary. Most employers are genuinely distressed that their lack of care has resulted in an injury and cooperate with HSE investigations and enquiries from your solicitor. However, insurance companies may put pressure on an employer to delay or deny liability for a ladder injuries at work claim for their own benefit and this can affect the relationship between you and your employer.
How Much Work Ladder Injuries Compensation Will I Get?
Substantial settlements of work ladder injuries compensation often make the headlines in the trade papers and mainstream press, but each claim for ladder injuries at work is assessed on its individual merits and comprised of four main categories.
General Damages for Physical Injury
General damages for physical injury account for the pain and suffering you experienced at the time of your work ladder accident and during your recovery. Although there is no measure to register pain, your solicitor will base this element of how much compensation for ladder injuries at work on historical settlements and your medical reports.
General Damages for Psychological Injury
Ladder accidents at work can result in significant psychological injuries if you have sustained a post traumatic stress disorder or fear of heights. Depression can often occur in patients who have to remain immobile for long periods of time, and anxiety over whether you will be able to work again – and how you will support your family — will be taken into account in general damages for psychological injury.
General Damages for Loss of Amenity
How much your ladder accident at work affects your quality of life is accounted for in general damages for “loss of amenity”. Loss of amenity refers to day-today activities you are unable to accomplish due to the pain from your work ladder injury. Any deterioration in your quality of life — including being unable to participate in social events and hobbies — can be included in a claim for ladder injuries at work.
Special Damages for Financial Loss
Special damages are the element of any compensation claim which recovers expenses you may have incurred in seeking medical treatment or in engaging help to care for you in your home. As loss of wages is included in special damages compensation for ladder injuries at work, this part of your work ladder injuries compensation claim could be the largest of them all if you are unable to work again because of your injuries.
How Contributory Negligence can affect Ladder Injuries at Work Compensation
The total amount of compensation for ladder injuries at work can be affected by any blame attributable to your own actions or inactions which have caused the work ladder accident or if you failed to seek immediate medical treatment. Known as contributory negligence if you are found — for example – to be 25 percent at fault for your accident or injuries, you will receive 75 percent of your compensation settlement and, should you be considered to be more than 50 percent responsible for your accident or injuries, it may not be viable to pursue a claim for ladder injuries at work at all.
You can be considered partially responsible for your injuries due to your contributory negligence if:-
- You failed to follow instructions given to you by a person in authority with responsibility for your health and safety
- You failed to use health and safety equipment provided for you to prevent the risk of a ladder at work injury
- You failed to visit a hospital or doctor as soon as possible after you were injured and there was an unjustifiable delay in receiving professional treatment for your injuries
Depending on the nature of your ladder accident at work, there may be other examples of how contributory negligence can negatively affect a claim for work ladder injuries. If you feel that you might have been involved in the cause of the accident or the severity of your injuries, you should advise the solicitor handling your claim when you first discuss your eligibility to claim for ladder injuries at work.
Offers of Compensation for Work Ladder Injuries
Offers of compensation for work ladder injuries are not only made to or by your solicitor during the negotiating stages of a work ladder injuries claim, but may also be made directly to you by your employer´s insurance company. This offers of settlement are known as “third party capture” and involve the insurance company making you a reduced offer of compensation for work ladder injuries in return for an early settlement.
At a time when you may have suffered debilitating injuries, and doctors have no idea about whether you will be able to work again, it may be tempting to accept an offer of compensation for work ladder injuries. However, these offers are never made with your best interests at heart and may not be sufficient to pay for ongoing medical treatment or to support your family.
If you receive an offer of compensation for work ladder injuries at any time after you have been injured in an accident for which you were not to blame, you should always refer it to your solicitor. If short-term finance is an issue for you, your solicitor can apply for interim payments of compensation to be made to you until such time as your claim for work ladder injuries is resolved.
How Long Do I Have to Make a Claim for Work Ladder Injuries?
In the UK, a claim for work ladder injuries has to be made within three years of the ”date of knowledge” that an injury has been sustained. In most claims for work ladder injuries, the date of knowledge will be the date on which you had the work ladder accident; but in a minority of cases where an injury develops much later, the three year limit does not commence until you are diagnosed with the injury.
Although three years may appear to be sufficient time in which to make a claim for work ladder injuries, issues such as a protracted HSE investigation, allegations of possible contributory negligence, the swift removal of evidence after an accident has occurred and the possibility that work colleagues may not wish to provide a testimony may delay how long it takes to compile and present a work ladder injuries claim. The potential for delay is one of the most important reasons why you should contact a ladder injury at work claims solicitor at the earliest possible opportunity.
No Win, No Fee Work Ladder Injuries Claims
Most solicitors will offer to represent you in “No Win, No Fee” work ladder injuries claims under a conditional fee agreement when they consider that your case has a good chance of winning. Under a “No Win, No Fee” agreement, should your solicitor fail to win your work ladder injuries claim, you will not have to pay him or her for the work they have put into preparing and presenting your claim. However, “No Win, No Fee” work ladder injuries claims do not always result in the services of a solicitor being totally free of charge — win or lose.
In the event that you win your work ladder injuries claim, your solicitor is permitted to charge a success fee for having taken the chance of representing you without a guarantee of payment. Although this success fee is most often paid by your employer´s insurance company along with the other legal costs, should the total of your solicitor´s legal fees, costs and his or her success fee be considered to be excessive in relation to the final settlement, you may be liable for paying some of defendant´s legal costs out of your ladder injury compensation settlement.
Should your solicitor lose your claim for work ladder injuries, although you will not have to pay your solicitor for their time, he or she might have incurred significant expenses in the preparation of your claim which are not covered by the conditional fee agreement and for which you are personally liable. You will also be liable for your employer´s legal fees should you lose your work ladder injuries claim and, inasmuch as you may already have legal expenses cover on an existing insurance policy, your solicitor will recommend that you take out extra insurance before making your claim by means of an “After the Event” insurance policy to protect you from the risk of financial exposure.
If you have been receiving benefits from the State since your accident, your solicitor will apply to the Compensation Recovery Unit of the Department for Work and Pensions for a certificate of benefits in order that he can repay the State before sending you the balance of your ladder injury compensation settlement. You might also receive less than 100 percent of your compensation for ladder injuries at work if you were made an offer of settlement during negotiations which was higher than the final amount awarded in court. In this scenario, you will be required to pay the difference to your employer´s insurance company towards their court costs.
Compensation for Ladder Injuries at Work Conclusion
Ladder injuries at work compensation claims can often take a long while to resolve due to the extent of the injuries which can be sustained in such a traumatic accident and the frequent difficulties in obtaining evidence of absolute negligence. Problems can be compounded if you have developed bad ladder habits at home which have been transferred into the workplace and contribute towards your accident and injury.
Each claim for compensation for ladder injuries at work is compiled on its own merits and how much compensation for work ladder injuries you may be entitled to receive is calculated on an individual basis. Therefore, it is in your best interests to discuss the circumstances of your work ladder accident with an experienced ladder injury at work claims solicitor at the first possible opportunity.