Workplace negligence is a failure of the employer duty of care. Your employer has a responsibility to keep you as safe as possible, no matter what job you do. Despite this, in the 12-months between June 2021 and 2022, 497,300 Australians were injured at work.*
If your company fails their duty of care in the workplace and you’re injured as a result, you may be able to make a negligence claim against your employer.
This article will give you an understanding of:
What constitutes workplace negligence
Examples of a successful workplace negligence claim against an employer
How to find out if you’re eligible to make a claim
What you’re entitled to with a workplace negligence claim
*According the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2023
What is workplace negligence?
Workplace negligence is when an employer fails to create a safe working environment. This may mean lack of appropriate safety equipment, ignoring hazards, or not providing appropriate training to use machinery. The results of negligence in the workplace can be significant, from minor cuts and bruises to more serious injuries like breaks and tears. The results can include physical and psychological injuries, financial difficulty, and social isolation.
Am I eligible for a workplace negligence claim?
To make a workplace negligence claim, you must be able to prove:
That your employer owed you a duty of care
That your employer then breached that duty of care
That the injury you suffered was a result of that breach
You’ll need to get a NSW certificate of capacity by seeing a doctor who will assess your ability to work and provide you with a Whole Person Impairment (WPI) rating. You can claim a Work Injury Damages (WID) lump sum if:
Your injury was the result of employer negligence
You have at least 15% WPI and this assessment has been accepted by the insurer or Personal Injury Commission
Every workplace negligence claim is unique, and it’s important to find the most relevant information for your situation. For more about your specific entitlements, read on, or contact us directly and speak to a specialist workplace negligence lawyer today.
What am I entitled to with a workplace negligence claim?
If you’ve suffered an injury because of workplace negligence then you might be entitled to have your lost wages, medical bills, and rehabilitation costs covered. This may also extend to lump sums to compensate you for your level of permanent impairment, and for your employer’s negligence. In NSW around $900 million is paid out in these additional lump sums to workers injured on the job every year*. For more information, see our workers compensation payout guide.
*According to SIRA Open Data, May 2023
Can I sue my employer for my workplace injuries?
Yes – if you satisfy the eligibility requirements and have a WPI of 15% or more then you can sue for a Work Injury Damages lump sum payment. This means that your injury was directly caused by your employer’s negligence, like if you report bullying to your manager and they don’t do anything to step in, and you develop a psychological injury.
Hard working Trevor was in the position nobody ever imagines they’ll be in, where a workplace injury left him fighting for his life. Inappropriate safety gear and a lack of training left him unprepared to complete his steel blasting task. His quick-thinking colleague saved his life, but the situation could have been avoided had his employer fulfilled their duty of care. A successful claim for a lump sum helped him get his life back on track.
He saved my life – I should be dead
Construction Manager Trevor, who had his life saved by a fast-thinking workmate after a horrific work accident, opens up about being pushed to the edge by his devastating injuries and how he managed to come out the other side.
If you’d like to find out if you’re eligible to make a negligence claim against your employer or want some advice about making a workplace negligence claim, get in touch without us today. At Law Partners we can help you make sure all of your injuries are assessed correctly and give you free advice about what steps you can take next.
Workplace negligence claims
What is duty of care in the workplace?
Duty of care is an employer’s responsibility to keep their staff safe. Your employer must have certain types of care in place, like superannuation, or having a workers compensation insurance policy. Businesses are required to pay these additional costs as a safety net for their workers. They must ensure the health and safety of their employees so far as it is reasonably practical, so it wouldn’t cover deliberately dangerous acts like jumping off stacks of boxes for fun, for example.
Example of duty of care negligence cases in Australia
There are many scenarios which would be considered workplace negligence and a breach of the employer duty of care. Not providing proper training to new staff who then get injured while operating machinery, or failure to supervise proper safety practices are direct examples of workplace negligence. Common circumstances include employers failing to act after a hazard has been pointed out, like not cleaning up a spill or leaving out loose cables that cause someone to fall over. This is what happened to Callum, a sports store employee who suffered an injury after an unstable display collapsed on him, despite management knowing it was an issue and not fixing it. You can read Callum’s story here.
Other types of workplace negligence
There are other, more subtle cases as well. In a restaurant where the manager allows their staff to drink alcohol while on shift, if a worker then trips over and is injured it’s a form of negligence. Negligence could even be a manager allowing a junior employee to regularly be in a situation where they’re uncomfortable, like dealing with a senior member of staff who has a reputation for being aggressive and intimidating.
Can I make a psychological injury claim due to workplace negligence?
The short answer is yes, you could make a negligence claim against your employer if they failed their duty of care and it resulted in you suffering an psychological injury. Not all injuries are physical, and though psychological injuries are less likely to be reported, they can be just as severe. The employer duty of care extends to ensuring all employees are treated with respect and dignity, which includes being free from harassment and bullying. To make a psychological injury claim you’ll need to receive a diagnosis from a psychiatrist, and your GP can give you a referral. Having this diagnosis before lodging your claim can make the process much easier.
Police workplace negligence
Some industries, like the police force, have higher instances of injuries like PTSD from exposure to traumatic events, and a culture of silence that can make it hard to seek professional help. John, Tony, and Ross are all former officers and talk candidly about the conditions that ultimately forced them to step away from the job they loved.
Heartbreaking police PTSD stories
Approximately 1 in every 5 Australian police officers are at risk of suffering from PTSD with suicidal thoughts one of the major symptoms.
The delicate and often complicated nature of these claims means that having a specialist workplace negligence lawyer on your side can be the difference between a denied or a successful workplace negligence claim. To find out more, visit our police workers compensation payout guide.
If you’re worried that your psychological injuries aren’t being taken seriously, or you don’t know how to get a diagnosis, we can help. You can tell us a bit about your case and one of our senior lawyers will review it and provide you with personal advice – for free.
Workplace negligence claim time limit
You should report your injury as soon as you can, within six months if possible. The official time limit is three years but there are sometimes exceptions. If you’re worried that you’ve missed the deadline, or you’re not sure when your injury actually occurred because it developed over time, you should speak to a workers compensation lawyer.
At Law Partners, we’re experts in workplace negligence claims. Even if the time limit has passed, we can offer you free advice about whether you’re eligible for compensation. Get in touch with us today to find out more.
Lodging a claim on your own can be a difficult process. But we can help by dealing with the insurer for you, and providing them with the following details and any other evidence they need:
What the injury is and any impairments it has caused
When the injury happened
Any previous condition that may have contributed to the injury (including if you received compensation)
Previous employment which may have caused the injury
Alleged negligence by your employer and supporting documentation
The losses you have experienced as a result including financial and mobility considerations and supporting documentation
Your NSW certificate of capacity and WPI assessment
It can take up to two months for the insurer to decide, and your claim will only be approved if the information and documents have been lodged correctly. You might also disagree with what they offer you – but we can help you appeal both a denied claim and any offer they make you.
Our specialised workplace negligence lawyers can help by checking that you’ve included all the correct information, lodging your claim within the time limit, and making sure you don’t miss out on anything you’re entitled to. Speak to us today to find out how we can help with your claim or for some free, personal advice.
A Doyle’s Guide listed personal injury law professional and one of the country’s preeminent workers compensation specialists, with over 15 years’ experience in delivering optimal outcomes to injured Australians.
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