Controversial changes to rules governing breach of health and safety at work were introduced on 1 October 2013. Section 69 of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act switches the burden of proof from the employer to the employee in many instances of injury. This is likely to mean an uphill struggle for people who are injured at work to claim the damages they need to put their lives back on track. However, it does alleviate some of the burden on responsible employers who do take all reasonable steps to ensure the safety of their employees. Until 1 October 2013, damage claims were based on a breach of an employer’s statutory duty of care to protect his employees and these claims were relatively straightforward to prove. Generally speaking, the employee will now have to show that the employer has been negligent for a claim to succeed which “tilts the playing field in favour of negligent bosses and away from injured workers.” “Many people injured through no fault of their own will find it extremely challenging to secure justice” continues Matthew Stockwell, president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL). “The employer holds all the important information about any incident, such as maintenance records or previously reported dangers and risks. The injured employee will have to prove the case against his employer which can be extremely difficult when he does not have access to this kind of information. Many people will inevitably shy away from making claims altogether. The negligent employer will then avoid making amends, leaving the state to pick up the tab for medical care and any benefits arising from the injury”. Little wonder that the Act has also been dubbed “a charter for rogue bosses.” Whether you are making or defending a personal injury claim, we can help.
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