Work Accidents Due to Employer Negligence in Israel
What are the legal rights of an employee who suffers from a work accident that occurred due to negligence on the part of the employer? Work accidents that occur due to negligence on the part of the employer may constitute grounds for a compensation lawsuit against the employer. In addition, when work accidents occur (that may or may not be under the responsibility of the employer), it is important for the employer to arrange the required medical treatment for the employee as soon as possible. Not doing so may constitute grounds for a compensation lawsuit against the employer.
Every workplace (whether in an office, a factory, a shopping store, etc.) has its risks of work accidents. The law in Israel defines work accidents very broadly, and includes not only accidents due to equipment (such as machinery) at the workplace but also road accidents that occur near the workplace, damage from falling at the workplace or nearby (such as in a parking lot that belongs to the workplace), and so on. Employers have the responsibility to do all that they reasonably can at the workplace to prevent work accidents, in various ways. They are also responsible to help workers who have been hurt due to a work accident that occurred receive treatment. This article reviews the ways to sue for compensation due to a work accident, as well as the responsibility of employers and whether it is possible to directly sue them for compensation if the work accident occurred due to employer negligence.
WHAT WAYS ARE THERE TO SUE FOR COMPENSATION DUE TO A WORK ACCIDENT?
There are three main ways to sue due to a work accident, which depend on the circumstances in each specific case. One option is to file a claim with the National Insurance Institute (Bituah Leumi), which is authorized to provide compensation money for the damage and, if necessary, to also determine the degree of disability that was caused to the employee and the amount of temporary or permanent disability pension that they will receive. Another option is to file an insurance claim against the insurance company if the employer or employee have arranged a personal insurance policy. This type of claim for compensation may generally be filed within three years of the work accident. The third option is to sue the employer directly for compensation. This type of lawsuit is considered to be a damages lawsuit and is heard at a court. It is relevant in cases where the work accident occurred due to employer negligence as defined in the Civil Wrongs Ordinance. This is a legally complex type of lawsuit and may sometimes put the plaintiff at risk of being the one required to pay compensation. Below we explain why.
IN WHICH CASES WILL RESPONSIBILITY RISE FOR THE OCCURRENCE OF A WORK ACCIDENT DUE TO EMPLOYER NEGLIGENCE?
The tort laws in Israel stipulate special obligations (generally called “duty of care” in the legal jargon) of employers to prevent harm from their employees at the workplace. This duty of care includes the responsibility to use reasonable means to actively protect workers from the risks of their particular jobs or of their work environment. This includes establishing safety measures at the workplace and ensuring (through instructions, supervision, etc.) that the employees follow these measures. The employer must also provide means for the employees to protect themselves at the workplace (such as protective equipment as needed at the specific workplace) and take care to keep away risk factors that may exist at the workplace. Employers who do not act as required under their specific circumstances to fulfill the duty of care may be found responsible for a work accident occurring to their employees due to employer negligence.
It is important to clarify that the responsibility to follow the safety measures at the workplace is not only the employer’s. The employees are also required to refrain from unsafe actions at the workplace and from violating the safety measures that were established by the employer. If a work accident occurs due to irresponsible behavior on the part of the worker, who violated the safety measures, this may be held against the worker in the compensation lawsuit and put contributory responsibility on the worker for the accident. In certain cases this may even constitute grounds for the employer to sue the worker for compensation due to damages to the property at the workplace or damages to the workplace itself. Therefore, victims of a work accident should consult with a tort lawyer soon after the accident to fully understand their chances of winning a compensation lawsuit and the risks that such a lawsuit may hold.
WHAT ACTIONS SHOULD EMPLOYERS AND EMPLOYEES TAKE AFTER A WORK ACCIDENT?
Regardless of whether the employer is responsible for a certain work accident due to negligence, the employer is responsible to make a reasonable effort under the circumstances of each case to ensure that their employees immediately receive the medical treatment and any other aid that they need. This may be first aid and escorting to the emergency room; calling the Israeli MDA emergency services to come urgently to the workplace; and so on. It is important to know that if the employer fails to immediately arrange medical treatment for the worker, this may serve in certain cases as additional grounds for a compensation lawsuit if it is possible to prove that the medical condition of the injured worker worsened due to the delay.
Workers who are hurt in a work accident should document as many details as possible regarding the accident, both in writing and by taking photographs of the scene of the accident and its possible causes. Additionally, the worker should send a notice to the employer and fill out a form called “NI-250”, which is the form that is used to officially report the work accident. It is very important to make sure to keep all this documentation for the medical treatment that the harmed worker receives after the accident. At the same time, to examine the various options for claiming compensation and the proper way to realize all of the injured worker’s rights in a specific case, the worker should seek legal advice and assistance from a labor lawyer.
EMPLOYER NEGLIGENCE THAT RESULTS IN A WORK ACCIDENT—CONTACT A TORT AND LABOR LAWYER
Above we have explained about the cases in which it is possible to file a compensation claim following a work accident that was caused by employer negligence. If you have any further questions on the subject, you are welcome to contact our offices in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and we will be happy to provide you with a comprehensive professional solution. Our firm specializes in labor law and tort law, and we have extensive experience in representing victims of work accidents in realizing their rights and before the labor courts, the National Insurance Institute, and more.