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The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth

Have you been injured at work? This is the question we are asked so many times today. We cannot go through a single television show these days without seeing one advert or another questioning whether you have been injured at work.

According to the Health and Safety Executive's Statistics 2009/10 there were a total of 26,061 fatal injuries to employees. It is no wonder we are encouraged to sue our employers for compensation at every given turn. The amount of revenue such claims could generate for a solicitor is one of the largest under the "personal injury" umbrella. However what are our justifications for suing our employers: to make a point? Make a difference to our work place practises? Or plain old monetary compensation? Whatever the reason may be, there are still requirements prior to satisfying a claim.

We are taught as part of our religious education to “love thy neighbour”, but who are our neighbour’s in society? Does this encourage us to protect the old lady living next door to us? As children our firsts are celebrated and recorded to remain special parts of each of us. Being a law student you never forget your first case, the unexpected tale of a snail in a ginger beer bottle. Lord Atkins neighbour principle in Donoghue v. Stevenson is a highly influential judgement in the law of negligence, and considers who we owe a duty of care to in society:

“Who, then, in law, is my neighbour? The answer seems to be – persons who are so closely and directly affected by my act that I ought reasonably to have them in contemplation as being so affected when I am directing my mind to the acts or omissions that are called in question ...”

An employer’s duty to their employees is an example of the neighbour principle in operation. An employer should consider the welfare of its employees in every decision they make and failure to do so could result in legal action against them. We are all individuals – therefore we need to be given our own personal duty of care, which varies depending on our wealth of knowledge or experience in the business. There is a false assumption that you can be fired for raising an injury claim against your employer. In fact the law is on your side. Dismissal on grounds of legal action is not a ground permitted in law and will allow you to pursue an additional claim for unlawful dismissal against your employer.

We should not hesitate to be compensated for the pain and suffering caused by our employer’s neglect. Companies fail to hesitate when conducting disciplinary action against employees for their wrongdoings, so why should we not take every opportunity to correct the wrongdoings they have created against us?

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