Compensation for Eye Injuries
The impact of injuries to the eyes
A person’s eyesight is such a valuable and intrinsic part of who they are that any problem affecting it is bound to be hugely upsetting. Many people, as they get older, find that their eyesight gradually declines and simply accept this as part of the ageing process, whilst others might be afflicted by conditions such as macular degeneration, cataracts or glaucoma. Conditions such as these can often be treated if diagnosed in time, whilst aids such as spectacles and contact lenses can go a long way toward alleviating the natural symptoms of ageing.
Occasionally, however, a person will suffer an eye injury which has a debilitating effect upon their ability to see clearly and thus on the degree to which they can lead a normal life, enjoy social situations and even earn a living. If the injury to your eyes came about as the result of the negligence of another party then you may well be in a position to make a no win no fee claim for compensation.
Claiming compensation for eyes injuries
The process of claiming compensation for an eye injury can be long and complex and should only ever be embarked upon with the help of a professional personal injury lawyer. Despite the complexity of the law with regard to certain types of injury, however, the basic principle which underlines all personal injury claims is relatively straightforward.
If you’ve been injured, and the injury came about because another party behaved in a negligent and careless manner, then you’ve every right to expect to be paid compensation. Not only will this constitute a legal and official recognition of the pain you’ve been through and the manner in which you’ve been badly treated, it will also ensure that your financial position both now and in the future isn’t adversely affected by the injury which you’ve suffered. In the event of severe or total loss of sight, this amount could include the cost of care in the future and the money needed to adapt your living space.
Types of eye injuries
Although any eye injury could range from a trivial scratch which stops hurting after a couple of hours right up to a catastrophic injury which robs you of the sight in one or both of your eyes, the causes tend to be divided into two distinct groupings:
1) Accidental – those which occur in the work place, whilst playing sport, as a result of a road traffic accident etc.
2) Medical – an eye injury which arises from medical negligence. This could take the form of botched surgery, a failure to spot a condition, the prescribing of the wrong medicine or anything else which represents your medical care falling below the standard which you might expect.
Eye injuries caused by accidents
In the case of an accidental eye injury, the person against whom the claim will be pursued will vary depending upon the details of your case. If you’ve been injured at work, for example, and feel that your injury was caused because of negligence on the part of your employer – perhaps because they failed to provide protective eye wear when handling chemicals – then the case will be raised against your employer. Workers are protected by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, which, together with other legislation pertaining to specifics such as dangerous substances, sets out the minimum requirements an employer is expected to meet with regard to the safety of their workers.
In the event of your eyes becoming injured in a road traffic accident, the claim will be made against the responsible party. In many cases, this will be disputed so, as with all compensation claims, it’s vital to gather as much information as possible as quickly as you can. Of course, in the immediate aftermath of a road traffic accident the main priority will be to access medical help and advice but this, too, will play a part in building the strongest possible case.
It should be noted that a compensation claim of this kind can be made even if the other driver is uninsured or can’t be traced, via the Motor Insurers Bureau, an independent body funded by the wider car insurance industry.
No matter what the circumstances of your accident, the more information you can present to your personal injury lawyer, the greater your chance of success. This includes, if possible, photographs of the scene of the accident, police reports, medical records, entries in any workplace accident book, accounts of people who witnessed the events, any CCTV footage available, and financial records detailing any expenses arising from the injury, whether these are out of pocket expenses or lost earnings.
Eye injuries caused by medical negligence
Claims of medical negligence are amongst the most daunting and complex cases for the court to deal with, and often take much longer to resolve than other cases. This is due to the nature of the conflicting expert opinion likely to be on either side of the case, and the monolithic nature of an organisation such as the NHS. Whether your eyes were injured following treatment at a major eye hospital, a private clinic or a high street optician, you’ve been badly let down by people you entrusted with one of the most delicate and valuable parts of your body, and have every right to pursue compensation.
No matter how complex your case may become, and how involved the arguments from expert medical practitioners on either side may seem, the principles remain fairly simple:
- The treatment received fell below the standards that might reasonably be expected
- This drop in standards resulted in your injury
The test used by the courts when pronouncing upon medical negligence claims used to be known as the Bolam test. The legal definition used by this test stated that, if the treatment delivered was below the standard of that which might be reasonably expected from a person working in the field, then the practitioner involved had been negligent.
More recently, courts have taken a more flexible approach, finding negligence in cases where the practitioner concerned failed to fully inform the patient of the risks of the treatment being delivered, for example, which is a form of negligence sometimes seen in cases of laser eye surgery or botched cosmetic treatments.
No matter how your eyes were injured, if someone else was to blame then you can launch a no win no fee compensation claim without paying a penny up front. The fact that the lawyer involved won’t receive their fee unless you win compensation acts as an extremely strong incentive to take on nothing but the strongest possible cases. No amount of money can ever make up for badly damaged eyesight, but it can form the foundation upon which you and your family begin to rebuild your life.