Falls are a significant cause of death and severe injury in the workplace and thousands of people are injured as a result of slips, trips and falls each year.
You may be able to claim compensation for injuries that result from a fall if it was caused by someone else’s negligence or carelessness. Negligence may arise in a variety of settings.
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:
If you are injured because your employer does not provide safe systems of 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 injured at work when he falls from a roof because the harness his employer supplied to him fails as it is faulty. Jeff’s employer knew the harness sometimes comes undone by itself but supplied it anyway. Jeff can claim compensation from his employer for his personal injuries.
Rick is injured at work when he falls from a height while working on a roof. He was issued with a safety harness but was not wearing it. 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
Fall hazards exist in professions where work is carried out at a height, such as stacking shelves, working on roofs, unloading large trucks or accessing silos. At risk professions also include: painting trades, building and plumbing labourers, truck drivers, deck hands, electricians, handymen and store persons.
Occupiers (including owners of private property and public authorities), have a duty of care toward people coming onto their land. They must take reasonable care to make sure entrants are not exposed to risks that are likely to cause injury. This means if there is something that is potentially dangerous on their property they must rectify it or warn people of the danger.
Common scenarios include someone slipping on a floor surface, tripping over an unexpected obstacle on the ground, falling into an unmarked hole in the pavement, or being hit by falling debris from a building site.
Jeff is injured when he slips over at a shopping centre where cleaners had left a large pool of detergent on the tiled floor. There were no warning signs about the spill. Jeff may be able to claim compensation for his injuries.
Rachel is injured when she slips while running down an outdoor staircase in the rain in high heels to get to the movie theatre on time. Rachel may not be able to claim compensation since her injury resulted largely from her own failure to take care for her safety.
See also: Public Place Injury Claims
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.
To diagnose and treat a injury you may need to consult your general practitioner, consult a specialist, obtain x-rays or MRIs, take pain medications and wear medical supports or 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.
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.
Rehabilitating after an injury may involve physiotherapy, chiropractic treatments, acupuncture, home and vehicle modifications and ergonomic aids. Your reasonable costs of rehabilitation can be claimed back as compensation.
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.
Compensation can be claimed for superannuation that would have been paid on lost income.
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.
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:
For most personal injury claims, a
. 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 or 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.
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.
A variety of injuries might be sustained in a fall. Those most commonly suffered include:
Injuries sustained in a fall may have a permanent impact on your activities of daily life and your ability to perform your usual occupation.
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.
Smith's Lawyers are Queensland injury compensation experts and run all claims on a truly risk-free basis, 'No Win. No Fee. No Catch.®'. Unlike the vast majority our competitors, this means no upfront costs or risks.
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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