Introduction to Office Lifting Injury Compensation
At first glance, making a claim for office lifting injury compensation may appear as frivolous to anybody who has never sustained an injury from lifting furniture in an office. However, an office lifting injury compensation claim can concern many types of serious injury, exacerbate an existing condition or, in the worse case scenarios, be responsible for a miscarriage or the trigger to a heart attack.
Claims for office lifting injury need to be handled delicately when relationships with employers and work colleagues may be affected, but should also ensure that an adequate office lifting injury compensation settlement is achieved to account for the shortfall between a regular salary and sick pay or state benefits. If your injury results in a substantial period away from work, a suitable settlement might make the difference between being able to pay for medical treatment and support your family – or not.
Consequently, it is always in your best interests to seek professional legal advice whenever you have been injured in an office lifting accident for which you were not entirely to blame. No two claims for office lifting injury compensation are ever identical – even if the symptoms of an injury are the same – and although the article below provides general information about making a claim for office lifting injury compensation, it is no substitute for discussing the circumstances of your lifting accident with an experienced personal injury solicitor.
Your Health comes before Compensation for an Office Lifting Injury
Although it may be obvious to many that if you sustain an injury in an office lifting accident which was not your fault your health should come before compensation for an office lifting injury, some people may consider that it would be better to work through the pain and seek medical attention at a later date. Others may believe that first aid for a cut or sprain acquired when lifting office equipment constitutes medical attention – this is not the case.
Not only is it important for the good of your health that you undergo a professional medical examination at the first possible opportunity, but it may harm your office lifting injury claim if you fail to do so. Without evidence of an injury recorded in your medical records it is impossible to claim for an office lifting injury and, if a medical examination is delayed without good reason, it could be claimed by your employer that you exacerbated the injury by your own lack of care or that your injury was not sustained at work at all.
Eligibility to Claim for an Office Lifting Injury
There are many ways in which injuries can be sustained due to moving or lifting office furniture, and your eligibility to claim for an office lifting injury is going to depend on whether you had been instructed in how to move or lift chairs, computers, desks and other office furniture safely, and been provided with mechanical lifting aids where necessary. Eligibility to claim for an office lifting injury might also depend on the actions – or inactions – of your work colleagues during the moving process and whether the activity of lifting office furniture is supervised or you are left to “get on with it” under your own steam.
Musculoskeletal injuries can be caused as much by the way an object is carried as the weight of it, and lifting or moving office furniture which requires twisting or leaning carries an enhanced risk of injury. An employer should advise you of good handling techniques for lifting and, in addition to preparing a risk assessment of the hazards present in any lifting activity, an employer should also consider the suitability of the person assigned to perform the lifting task – with special consideration for the elderly, the young, those with an existing health condition and pregnant women.
Lifting Office Chair Injury Compensation
You may not think that lifting an office chair would present much risk of injury – neither would some employers; which is why the hazards of moving an office chair are sometimes overlooked in a risk assessment. Moving an office chair can usually be done by rolling a wheeled chair along a level surface without it becoming a dangerous activity; however lifting an office chair involves bending and picking up an awkwardly shaped object while holding it away from the body – a typical cause of a musculoskeletal injury which often obscures trip hazards and other obstacles which can easily be bumped into.
As a point of interest; the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have their own strict policy on when and why a chair should be moved. They also have an office injury rate per 100,000 employers which is nearly half the national average and have never had a claim made against them for compensation for a lifting office chair injury.
Lifting Office Computer Injury Compensation
Although modern computers and monitors are much lighter and slimline than they once were, moving an office computer can still present a risk of injury due to the lifting and bending actions required. Although most computer towers are now kept in cradles alongside a workstation, they still require a similar technique as lifting from the floor – an action identified by the HSE as potentially hazardous if not conducted in the correct manner. Furthermore, there are also tripping risks from detached computer cables when moving an office computer and – if you have not shut down the computer and disconnected the power supply before attempting to lift a computer – the risk of electrocution injury.
You could be entitled to claim compensation for a lifting office computer injury if you had not been advised about the risks involved in moving an office computer, provided with mechanical lifting aids when they were available and practical, or if resting places were not provided if you had to carry the computer any distance. You should also never attempt to reconnect a computer to a power supply without guidance from a trained computer engineer.
Lifting Office Desk Injury Compensation
Office desks are some of the heavier and bulkier items that may need to be moved in an office, and you should never attempt to lift or move an office desk by yourself. Any movement of an office desk should be done in the safest possible manner, over an unobstructed even surface and supervised by a competent person. The competent person should ensure that there is no risk of tripping and falling as the desk is moved and that your route to the desk´s new destination is kept clear.
Desks should be carried at a height between the shoulder and the waist, and never above head height. It takes three times as much effort to lift and carry an office desk beyond shoulder height and, should you sustain an injury from lifting or carrying a desk where the “best possible practices” have not been employed, you will be entitled to claim compensation for an office desk lifting injury.
Lifting Office Furniture Injury Compensation
If you have been asked to perform any lifting office furniture task which presents a risk of injury, you should be advised of the risks, trained on how to perform the task in the safest possible manner, provided with mechanical aids where practical and personal protective equipment where necessary. The lifting and moving of office furniture should – in most cases – be supervised and, if a lot of lifting and moving of office furniture is required, rest breaks should be provided.
If any area of an employer´s responsibility is overlooked when moving office furniture, and you sustain an injury as a result, you should be entitled to claim compensation for a lifting office furniture injury. If you have any doubts about whether you are eligible to claim for an office lifting injury, you should speak with a personal injury solicitor at the first possible opportunity.
How to Proceed with an Office Lifting Injury Claim
If you have been diagnosed with an office lifting injury which you believe to be due to your employer´s negligence there are several procedures you should follow to support your office lifting injury claim. The first, if your injuries allow, is to make a report of your office lifting accident in your employer´s “Accident Report Book”. This report enables you to tell your version of how the accident and injury occurred and why.
You should take photographs of the piece of office equipment or furniture you were moving when your lifting injury occurred and compile a list of work colleagues who were either working with you at the time or who witnessed your injury and would be prepared to testify if necessary that your injury was attributable to your employer´s negligence.
If your office lifting injury causes you to have more than seven days from work, your employer has a legal obligation to report your accident and injury to the HSE under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR). Although a solitary incident of an office lifting injury is unlikely to initiate a health and safety investigation, if there have been several cases of office lifting injury at the company the HSE might wish to look more closely at the efforts your employer has made to reduce as much as possible the risks of injury in the office.
Although the conclusions of an HSE investigation could strongly support an office lifting injury claim for compensation, you should not wait for an investigation to start and finish before speaking with an office lifting injury claims solicitor. The solicitor will be more familiar with procedures for making an office lifting injury claim, will be able to collect your work colleagues´ statements quickly and accurately and deal with any issues introduced by your employer.
Office Lifting Accident Compensation Procedures
The procedures for claiming office lifting accident compensation are quite straightforward. Once injury and negligence are established, your solicitor will send a Letter of Claim to your employer, who has twenty-days in which to acknowledge receipt of the letter and then a further three months to deny or accept their liability for your office lifting injuries.
If your employer denies that his negligence was responsible for your injuries, it is likely that your solicitor will issue court proceedings. Frequently the issuing of court proceedings is sufficient to make your employer think again and, as he will be under pressure from his Employer´s Liability insurance company to avoid court action, may agree to settle under duress.
Once liability for your office lifting injuries is accepted, your solicitor will calculate how much office lifting accident compensation you are entitled to and present an offer of settlement to your employer´s insurance company. If the offer of settlement is accepted, you will receive your office lifting accident compensation without any further delays but, if an agreement cannot be reached, it may still be necessary to have your office lifting accident compensation claim resolved in court.
In most cases, court action for an office lifting injury is unnecessary, as most employers are genuinely upset that their lack of care has resulted in an injury. However, insurance companies may put pressure on an employer to deny or delay an office lifting accident claim for their own benefit and, as mentioned at the top of the page, this can affect the relationship between you and your employer.
How Much Compensation for an Office Lifting Accident Will I Get?
How much compensation for an office lifting accident you are entitled to receive is going to depend on many different factors. Most commonly the consequences of an office lifting injury will have more influence on your final office lifting injury compensation settlement than the injury itself. The final calculation of how much compensation for an office lifting accident you will get may not be known until after the Letter of Claim has been sent if surgery is required or further assessments of your health are required.
General Damages for Physical Injury
The first consideration that a solicitor will take into account when compiling an office lifting accident compensation claim is the pain and suffering you experienced at the time of your office lifting injury and during your recovery. As many musculoskeletal injuries are non-anatomical, you may have to undergo several specialist medical examinations to determine the level of general damages for physical injury.
General Damages for Psychological Injury
For some employees, being stressed at not being able to return to work while suffering the frustrations of immobility may cause the individual to slide into depression. If an employee suffers a quantifiable emotional trauma, or exacerbates an existing mental condition, it will be possible to include general damages for psychological injury in a claim for office lifting injury compensation.
General Damages for Loss of Amenity
Your “loss of amenity” refers to day-today activities you may be unable to perform because of the pain from your office lifting injury. Any deterioration in your quality of life – including being unable to participate in social pursuits and enjoy hobbies – can be included in an office lifting injury compensation claim under general damages for loss of amenity.
Special Damages for Financial Loss
Special damages recover any expenses you have incurred in seeking medical treatment or costs encountered due to your injury. If you have to pay for alternate forms of transport because you are unable to drive or have to engage home help due to your immobility, these expenses can be included as special damages for financial loss in a claim for office lifting accident compensation.
When your office lifting injury claim is finally resolved, not only should you receive adequate and fair recompense for the injury you sustained due to your employer´s negligence, but you should be no worse off financially than if the accident had never occurred. If your absence from work is ongoing, your office lifting injury compensation settlement will also include the future costs of medical care and loss of income.
How Contributory Negligence can affect an Office Lifting Accident Claim
How much compensation for an office lifting injury you are entitled to receive can be negatively affected by contributory negligence. The term “contributory negligence” refers to any action – or inaction – that you may be responsible for which had an impact on the cause of the accident or extent of your injuries.
With claims for office lifting accident compensation, if you were not at all at fault for your accident and injury, you will receive 100 percent of your office lifting injury compensation. However, if you are found – for example – to be 25 percent at fault, you will get 75 percent of your compensation settlement and, should you be considered to be more than 50 percent liable for your accident or injuries, it may not be viable to pursue a claim for office lifting accident compensation at all.
You can be considered partially liable for your injuries due to your contributory negligence if:-
- You neglected to follow instructions given to you by a person in authority with responsibility for your health and safety
- You neglected to use health and safety equipment provided for you to prevent the risk of an office lifting injury
- You neglected to visit a hospital or doctor as soon as possible after you were injured, and therefore there was an unjustifiable delay in an examination of your injuries
Depending on the piece of office equipment or furniture you were lifting at the time of your injury, there may be other examples of how contributory negligence can negatively influence a claim for office lifting injury compensation. If you feel that you could have played a part in the cause of the accident or the severity of your injuries, you should discuss the impact that your contributory negligence could have on an office lifting injury compensation settlement with a solicitor when you first discuss the circumstances surrounding your accident.
Offers of Office Lifting Accident Compensation Settlements
Offers of office lifting accident compensation settlements are not only made by your solicitor to your employer´s insurers – it can happen the other way around too. Sometimes you employer´s insurance company will bypass your solicitor and come directly to you with an offer of settlement in return for a quick settlement.
These direct offers are frequently made soon after you have sustained your injury and before your solicitor has had the opportunity to conduct an accurate assessment of your entitlement to office lifting accident compensation. On some occasions, these offers of settlement are made within days of an injury being sustained and before you have even considered making an office lifting accident claim. Although a direct approach from an insurance company should be welcomed as it is effectively an admission of liability, it should also be treated with caution as insurance companies most commonly consider their best interests ahead of yours.
If short term finances are a concern of yours, you should bring them to the attention of your solicitor. He or she may be able to arrange for interim payments of office lifting accident compensation until such time that your office lifting injury claim is resolved. This is a far better solution than inadvertently accepting an offer of office lifting accident compensation settlement which may leave you undercompensated and unable to pay for medical treatment or support your family.
How Long Do I Have to Make a Claim for an Office Lifting Accident?
In the UK, a claim for an office lifting accident has to be filed within three years of the ”date of knowledge” that an injury has been sustained. In most office lifting accident claims, the date of knowledge will be the date on which you had the office lifting accident, but in cases where an injury is sustained which manifests much later, the clock does not start ticking until you are diagnosed with the injury.
Although three years may appear to be plenty of time in which to make a claim for office lifting accident compensation, issues such as possible contributory negligence, the swift removal of evidence after an accident and the possibility of a protracted HSE investigation can swiftly take much of the time available to compile and present a office lifting accident compensation claim. The potential for delays is yet another reason why you should not delay before contacting an office lifting injury claims solicitor whenever you have sustained an injury in an office lifting accident for which you were not totally to blame.
No Win, No Fee Office Lifting Injury Claims
Many solicitors offer “No Win, No Fee” office lifting injury claims under a conditional fee agreement when the solicitor considers your case to be strongly in your favour. Under a “No Win, No Fee” arrangement, should your solicitor fail to win your claim for an office lifting injury, you will not have to pay him or her for the effort they have put into your claim. However, “No Win, No Fee” office lifting accident claims do not always result in your claim being totally free of charge – win or lose.
In the event that your solicitor loses the claim for an office lifting accident, although you will not have to pay your solicitor´s fees, he or she might have incurred significant costs in the preparation of your claim which are not covered by the conditional fee arrangement and for which you are liable. You will also be liable for your employer´s legal fees should you lose your office lifting injury claim and, inasmuch as you may have legal expenses cover on an existing household contents or car insurance policy, your solicitor will suggest that you take out extra insurance before making your claim for office lifting injury compensation by means of an “After the Event” insurance policy to protect you from financial exposure.
Should you win your office lifting injury claim, your solicitor is permitted to charge a success fee for having taken the risk of representing you without a guarantee of payment. Although this success fee is usually paid by your employer´s insurance company along with the other legal costs, should the combined sum of your solicitor´s legal fees, costs and his or her success fee be considered to be inappropriate in relation to the final settlement, you may be personally liable for paying some of the legal costs from your office lifting injury compensation settlement.
Furthermore, if you have been receiving benefits from the State since your accident, your solicitor will have to pay back the Compensation Recovery Unit of the Department for Work and Pensions before sending you the balance of your office lifting injury compensation settlement. One other event which may result in you receiving less than 100 percent of your compensation for office lifting accident is if you were made an offer of settlement which was higher than the amount awarded in court. In this event, you may be required to pay the difference to your employer´s insurance company towards their court costs.
Office Lifting Injury Compensation Conclusion
Office lifting injury compensation claims are often sensitive – not just because they can be perceived as frivolous, but because they can affect working relationships with both your work colleagues and employer. However, if you have to spend months recovering from an injury for which you were not to blame and because of which you have to live on sick pay or State benefits, it is completely justifiable that you make a claim for office lifting injury compensation.
The circumstances surrounding your office lifting accident claim may not be unique, but it is more than likely that the consequences of your injury will be. Therefore it is always in your best interests to use the services of an office lifting injury claims solicitor to ensure that you receive a fair and adequate settlement of office lifting accident compensation.
Each claim for office lifting injury compensation is compiled on its own merits and, inasmuch as this article may have provided you with some useful information, it is no substitute for seeking independent and professional legal advice from an experienced office lifting injury claims solicitor – preferably at the first possible opportunity.
All articles are written or edited by Eoin Campbell.