Thankfully, serious eye injuries are relatively uncommon with the vast majority of eye injuries relatively short-term with a full recovery – often with minimal medical assistance. However, there are also numerous eye injuries that occur (especially) in the workplace which can have a life-changing impact on victims. If you have suffered an eye injury as a consequence of negligence by a third party then you may have an eye injury compensation claim.
Common circumstances for eye injuries
While eye injuries can occur in the home, on your everyday travels, and in the workplace, in this instance, we will focus on jobs with an elevated risk of eye injury. These include:-
- Auto repair
- Electrical work
There are many dangers to consider with regard to eye injuries that relate to workplace procedures and workplace machinery. As a consequence, it is extremely important that your employer is able to provide a safe working environment as well as ongoing training and repair/maintenance of machinery.
Common eye injury compensation claims
There are a number of relatively common eye injuries that are usually fairly simple to treat with minimal if any long-term impact. Some of the more common eye injuries include:-
- Scratched eye
This is often referred to as a corneal abrasion and is simply an abrasion to the surface of your eye. This is the kind of eye injury you will feel when a foreign body such as dust or sand is blown into your eye. It can be very uncomfortable, cause redness around the eye and sensitivity to light. However, it is important to treat what many see as a relatively minor injury because a scratch on the surface of your eye can lead to infection.
- Penetration by foreign bodies
While scratching the surface of your eye with a foreign body such as dust can be painful, actual penetration of your eye by metal or some other material can be serious. The natural temptation is to remove the foreign body as soon as possible which could in fact cause more damage. It is important to seek medical treatment straight away so that your doctor can look to remove any foreign bodies.
- Chemical burns
It may surprise many to learn that acid chemical burns are traditionally less harmful to your eye than alkali burns. The substance can cause redness and a slight burning but if treatment is received as quickly as possible there should be no lasting damage. When it comes to alkali burns the initial pain and suffering may be less but they can cause more serious damage to your eyes. Such substances include oven cleaner, general cleaner, and even chalk dust.
- Swelling of the eye
Commonly referred to as a “black eye”, this type of injury tends to be caused when struck by something moving at relatively high speed, such as for example a tennis ball. In the vast majority of cases, the damage will be superficial with bruising around the eye for a few days. However, there will be occasions where damage to the actual eye has occurred and treatment will be required as soon as possible. If in any doubt, speak to your doctor.
- Bleeding of the eye
Otherwise known as subconjunctival haemorrhages, bleeding of the eye is an injury that is relatively painless and often looks worse than it is. It is simply caused by the breakage of a blood vessel in the eye often as a consequence of the impact from a foreign body. There should be no element of blindness although it can feel a little uncomfortable as if “something is not right”. While this type of eye injury tends to clear up relatively quickly, if you continue to have issues you should seek medical treatment.
- Traumatic iritis
Traumatic iritis is an inflammation of the iris, surrounding the pupil, which can in some cases lead to serious eye issues. Often the result of being hit by a hard instrument or poked in the eye it is advisable to seek treatment as soon as possible.
Proving liability for an eye injury claim
In order to pursue any type of compensation claim, you will first need to prove third-party liability which led to the accident that caused your injuries. There are two main parties to consider with regard to eye injury claims which include injuries in the workplace and injuries in the public domain.
Eye injuries at work claims
There are numerous jobs that carry a higher than normal degree of risk of eye injury. The first thing to remember is that your employer has a duty of care, under various acts of Parliament, towards all of their employees. This duty of care includes:-
- Initial and ongoing training
- Provision of PPE equipment
- Repair and maintenance of machinery
- Provision of safety guards on machinery
- Detailed working procedures
- Safety warnings
- Allocation of tasks to relatively experienced personnel
- Regular risk assessments
It is not difficult to see where there may be issues with regard to negligence and liability leading to eye injury at work claims.
Common reasons for eye injuries in the workplace
Unfortunately, despite the fact that the regulations are enshrined in law, we tend to see a number of common reasons why eye injuries occur in the workplace because of employers negligence. These include:-
- Lack of PPE
- Failure to maintain/repair machinery
- Inadequate training
- Unsafe working environment
Personal protective equipment such as a simple pair of glasses can help to avoid many common eye injuries in the workplace. If your employer has failed to provide PPE then in many cases this will lead to a ruling of negligence opening the employer up to PPE compensation claims.
Eye injuries in the public domain
Whether walking down the street, on business premises or perhaps driving your vehicle, you are still afforded a duty of care from those around you. Some of the more common eye injuries in the public domain include:-
- Hit by flying debris in windy conditions
- Hit in the eye from an assault
- Hit by falling items in a shop
- Road traffic accidents resulting in eye injuries
These lists give you an idea of the more common eye injuries in the workplace and the public domain but in reality, we are just scratching the surface. So, if you are walking down the street and hit by flying debris, maybe a road sign in extremely windy conditions, who is liable?
Duty of care to the public
Whether your injury occurs on business premises, walking down the street, or driving your vehicle, all parties have a duty of care to those around them. It may be that the business owner failed to maintain their premises and you were hit in the eye by falling packages. Walking down the street, it may be that the local authority failed to secure loose road signs which were upended on a windy day. Alternatively, if you receive an eye injury in a road traffic accident which was not your fault, then there is every chance that the other driver could be liable.
It is worth remembering that where a third party has taken sufficient care to protect the immediate vicinity (and/or their employees) they may well have fulfilled their duty of care. As a consequence, it may be difficult to prove any level of negligence therefore impossible to pursue compensation. On occasion, it may be proven that the victim acted irresponsibly thereby causing the accident which resulted in their eye injury. Each case is different…..
How do I pursue compensation for an eye injury?
The first thing to do is prove negligence on behalf of one or more third parties which caused the accident and your subsequent eye injury. You will require as much evidence as possible which might include:-
- Medical records
- Medical diagnosis
- Witness statements
- Timeline of events
- Details of your pain and suffering
- Copy of safety records
- Correspondence with your employer
- Evidence of an unsafe working environment
- Failure to provide PPE
- Evidence of unsafe public highways
- Failure to ensure that machine safety guards were in place
- Evidence of similar accidents
It is important to gather as much information as possible although where you are incapacitated for a period of time, there may be some delay. A personal injury solicitor can also help with gathering evidence.
How do I appoint a personal injury solicitor?
There are numerous personal injury solicitors throughout the UK who will review your chances of a successful eye injury compensation claim free of charge. If they believe you have a realistically decent chance of success they would likely offer to take your eye injury claim forward under a “No Win No Fee” agreement. This effectively means you do not pay a success fee until your claim is settled in your favour.
A success fee is best described as a percentage of any compensation awarded as a consequence of your injuries. Success fees are explained in more detail here.
How much compensation for eye injuries?
The vast majority of successful eye injury compensation claims will be settled out of court or by a judge – if there is a dispute regarding negligence. However, if successful your compensation will consist of general damages and special damages.
- General damages
This is financial compensation for your pain and suffering which can be anywhere from £2,070 for a relatively minor eye injury all the way up to £252,180 for total blindness.
- Special damages
There is essentially no limit on special damages which can include loss of earnings, expenditure on additional equipment, medical expenses going forward, and more.
Whether your eye injury occurs in the workplace or the public domain, if you receive an injury through no full of your own, you may be entitled to compensation. To discuss an eye injury compensation claim with a personal injury solicitor you can call us free on 0800 652 1345.