Call Comes After Man Who Lost Eye In Work Accident Cannot Claim Because Employer Not Insured
A leading workplace injury lawyer is urging the Government to establish an Employers’ Liability Insurance Bureau to prevent workers whose bosses are not insured from missing out on vital support and rehabilitation.
The call from national law firm Irwin Mitchell comes as a Sheffield man, left blind in one eye after an accident at work, speaks out about his injuries and slams employers who fail to look after their staff. He missed out on funds to cover his care costs because his employer was not insured.
Ryan Scott, 26, of South East Sheffield, was employed by Goodfellas (UK) Ltd as a labourer at the site of the Goodfellas Club, in Attercliffe, Sheffield, at the time of the injury in March 2004.
Mr Scott was asked to remove an awning attached to a caravan on the site in preparation for the development of the club’s car park. While taking the awning apart, a metal peg attached to the awning ropes sprang up and struck him in the eye causing significant injuries which have ultimately left him blind in his left eye.
Despite being successful in a claim to cover his lost earnings, personal injuries and to cover his future care costs, he has not received any compensation because his employer was not insured and the company ceased trading meaning the claim cannot be enforced.
David Urpeth, Head of the Workplace Illness and Accident team at Irwin Mitchell, represented Ryan Scott. He wants to see the formation of an Employers’ Liability Insurance Bureau (ELIB) that will protect victims of accidents at work where there is no insurer or they can’t be traced.
Urpeth said that ELIB would provide protection for people like Mr Scott who suffer serious injuries because of the negligence of their employers. It would work in a similar way to the Motor Insurers’ Bureau, which has protected victims of uninsured drivers for the past 40 years.
Urpeth said: “As the situation now stands, people injured may be denied the financial security they are rightfully entitled to either if their employer has no insurance or employers’ insurer cannot be traced. That cannot be fair or just, and this issue needs an immediate solution.
“Mr Scott’s accident was one which has had a massive impact on his life. It is clear that this accident could have been very easily avoided if Mr Scott had been provided with a safe system of work, suitable work equipment and appropriate protective clothing. Unfortunately now he has been left in an awful situation.
“What we need is protection for people in similar cases where, despite rigorous and comprehensive searches, no insurer either exists or can be found. Without such protection innocent and injured people are left with no access to justice for the way they were treated by their employers.
“Severely injured workers are missing out on funds to cover their care and rehabilitation as well as lost earnings. In some of the more serious cases people are left with severe disabilities that mean they will never work again and will need care for the rest of their lives. If there is no insurance or it is insufficient, this will ultimately be paid for by the tax payer via the NHS but in some cases this just isn’t enough.”
Mr Scott said: “The past seven years have just been a nightmare. I’m distraught that I’ve lost my vision, my independence, my job, and many of my friends. I’ve found it extremely difficult to deal with.
“I still remember vividly when the metal peg hit me with such force that I felt a pop, and was knocked to the ground. I immediately put my hand over my eye, where I felt a liquid substance run from it.
“I was taken to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, where I was told I had sustained a large cut to my eye and would need to undergo an operation immediately. I received thirteen stitches and remained in the Hallamshire for five days.”
A specialist at the Hallamshire told Mr Scott that he had lost a large part of the anatomy of his eye, with evidence of both retinal detachment and haemorrhaging. After another operation the following day, Ryan spent several days in hospital before being discharged on heavy medication. He remained extremely ill, and was both heavily medicated and regularly hospitalised for the next few months.
Mr Scott, who now suffers from severely impaired vision from his injured eye, added: “I’m told my eye will be painful forever and it will always affect how I live my life. I’ve attempted other jobs but the conditions have made it very difficult to carry out the work so I’m still looking for employment or training suitable to someone with my condition.”