Compensation for falling object injuries (hit by a falling object)

Falling objects are a common cause of injury in the workplace and usually result from human error. If you are injured due to a falling object in the workplace, you may be entitled to compensation.

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Common injuries sustained from falling objects

Falling objects may cause all manner of injuries. Those most commonly suffered include:

  • Head and brain injuries - impacts and trauma to the head may cause injuries to the skull as well as the brain
  • Neck, back, and spinal injuries - injuries to the neck and back may include soft tissue, vertebral or spinal injuries which could even result in paraplegia
  • Musculoskeletal injuries - where muscles, tendons or ligaments are stretched or torn
  • Lacerations - cuts, wounds, abrasions of varying degrees
  • Bruising - ruptured blood vessels resulting in skin discolouration, swelling, and soreness
  • Death - crushing injuries and severe head injuries from falling objects may result in death

Common causes of injury from falling objects

Falling object injuries may be caused by:

  • stationery, heavy files, books or computer equipment that have fallen from a shelf
  • projectiles ejected from machinery
  • falling tools, materials and debris falling from heights on a building site
  • the collapse of an unstable shelf, bench or mezzanine floor
  • an object falling from lifting machinery or other plant including unsecured loads
  • fixtures falling from a wall or ceiling

Jobs with high risk of falling object injuries

Falling object injuries may occur in a variety of workplaces. Particularly at risk are construction workers, warehouse staff, office workers and employees working around moving machinery and equipment.

Falling object injury - can I claim compensation?

You may be able to claim compensation for injuries that are caused by a falling object if it resulted from someone else’s negligence or carelessness. Negligence may arise in a variety of settings.

Falling injury at work- can I claim compensation?

If you are injured at work, you may be able to claim compensation from your employer. Employers must provide proper and adequate means for employees to carry out their work. This includes:

  • providing safe systems of work
  • maintaining safe machinery and equipment
  • maintaining a safe workplace; and
  • providing employees with adequate facilities, training, supervision, and instruction

If you are injured because your employer does not provide safe systems for work, equipment or a safe environment, you may be able to sue for personal injury compensation. This includes late onset injuries and aggravations of pre-existing injuries.

Examples: Jeff is performing electrical work on a ceiling when a ceiling panel falls on his head and shoulder causing soft tissue injuries to his neck. Jeff’s employer knew the ceiling panel was loose but failed to advise Jeff. Jeff can claim compensation from his employer for his personal injuries. 
Rick is injured at work when a hammer he left sitting precariously an upper level of scaffolding falls on his head. Rick is unlikely to get compensation for his injuries as they were due to his own negligence. However, he could apply for Workers Compensation payments while he is off work.

See also: WorkCover Claims

Falling object injury - what can I claim for?



General Damages

General damages compensate you for the pain and suffering you have experienced as well as any permanent loss of enjoyment of life as a result of your injuries. They are calculated by reference to the ISV Scale which rates the seriousness of any injury between 1 and 100 and accords a monetary value range to that rating.

For example a severe spinal injury like quadriplegia has a rating of 75 to 100 and a monetary range of $232,600 to $349,400 whereas a minor soft tissue injury is rated 0 to 4 with a monetary range of $0 to $5,560.

Medical Costs

To diagnose and treat an injury you may need to consult your general practitioner, consult a specialist, obtain x-rays or MRIs, take pain medications and wear special braces apparatus. The expenses you incur to obtain medical treatment including costs of consultations, diagnostic scans, travel costs, medication and medical equipment may be claimed as compensation.   You can also claim for medical costs you will incur in the future as a result of your injury.

Hospital and surgical costs

Some injuries require surgery to stabilise or repair injured bones or soft tissue. Surgical or hospital costs paid by you can be claimed as compensation as long as the surgery was necessary to treat your condition.

Rehabilitation costs

Rehabilitating after an injury may involve physiotherapy, chiropractic treatments, acupuncture, massage, home and vehicle modifications and ergonomic aids. Your reasonable costs of rehabilitation can be claimed back as compensation.

Loss of income and future earning capacity

If you sustain serious injuries you may need time off work for several weeks or months immediately after the incident. You can claim compensation for this lost income.

If your injury prevents you from working to the same extent as you did prior to the injury you may also be able to claim loss of future income earning capacity. This is usually estimated as a lump sum figure based on the age of the person, their usual occupation and other skills.

Loss of Superannuation

Compensation can be claimed for superannuation that would have been paid on lost income.

Care and Assistance

Serious injuries may prevent you from being able to perform tasks such as personal care, cleaning, laundry, mowing your lawns, caring for the garden or other domestic chores. If you formerly performed these duties but are now unable to due to an injury you can claim compensation for care and assistance provided to you by friends, relatives or paid contractors.

In Queensland there is a minimum threshold for this type of compensation.

Interest

Interest can generally be claimed on compensation for any out of pocket expenses that are incurred before your claim is resolved.

How will my compensation be determined? 

In general terms, the amount of compensation is gauged by comparing what your life was like before the injury and what it is like now as a result of the injury. Someone whose injury has had a greater impact on their life will be entitled to more compensation than someone whose injury has had only minimal impact. The amount of compensation payable for your injuries will vary greatly from case to case, depending on a variety of variables such as:

  • the severity of the injury: more severe injuries will attract more compensation
  • the age of the patient: young people are likely to receive greater compensation than older people for a similar injury as it will impact their lifestyle and employment for a longer period of time.
  • level of health prior to the incident: an active and healthy person may suffer more from an injury because they are unable to exercise the way they did prior to the accident and may become predisposed to mood disorders and other health conditions they may not have suffered were it not for their injury.
  • pre-incident lifestyle: injured claimants who formerly engaged in activities they can no longer participate in may experience greater a impact from their injuries.
  • occupation: greater compensation will be payable where a person’s ability to work in their former occupation is impacted severely by their injuries, for example a professional ruby player will suffer a greater loss as a result of a back injury than a person who works part-time in an office and will therefore receive greater compensation.

What time limits apply to my claim?

For most personal injury claims, a legal action must be commenced within 3 years of the date of the injury. If you miss this deadline, your claim will be statute barred and you will lose all rights to claim compensation. However, depending on where your injury occurred and who you are suing, specific pre-court procedures may apply. Pre-court procedures have their own time limits which are much sooner. If you miss these time limits you may lose your right to claim unless you can provide good reasons for why you delayed and why you should be allowed to proceed with your claim.

If your injuries were sustained at work

Statutory worker’s compensation claims in Queensland must be filed within 6 months from the date of the accident or the date you become aware of your injury.  If you intend to then sue your employer for negligence (otherwise known as a common law claim) you must request an assessment of permanent impairment from the workers’ compensation insurer within 2.5 years of the injury.

If you are under 18 years of age

For minors, the obligation to serve the other party with a Notice of Claim begins when the child turns 18, however a parent or guardian may do this on behalf of the minor before they turn 18.

What to do now?

Depending on the nature of your injuries and the circumstances that caused them, compensation may or may not be available. You should always seek expert legal help to see if you are able to make a claim.

Next steps - get advice now

It’s important to get advice for your specific situation. Check if you can make a risk-free compensation claim and get free initial advice from our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith.

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Last update on:
May 29, 2018
Disclaimer: This information is designed for general information in relation to Queensland compensation law. It does not constitute legal advice. We strongly recommend you seek legal advice in regards to your specific situation. For expert advice call 1800 266 801 or chat via live chat to arrange free initial advice with our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith.

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