No record in the accident book - Can you still claim?

When an accident happens at work or on public premises, the employer or occupier of the premises has a duty to record it. This is often done in an approved accident book.

Not only does the accident book help to manage health and safety issues, the book is also important evidence for an injured person when pursuing a claim.

When assessing a potential personal injury claim, a solicitor will consider how successful the claim is likely to be. If there is no record in an accident book, the case may be weaker. A claim can still be successful, however, provided that other vital evidence is available.

What is the law regarding accident books?

All employers and people in control of premises, such a supermarkets and restaurants, are required by UK health and safety law to keep a record of any incidences, injuries, diseases and dangerous occurrences. Records can be kept in any form, but an accident book is often preferred as it complies with the requirements of the Data Protection Act.

In addition, any accidents which result in a person having more than seven consecutive days off work must be reported by law under RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013).

Why is an accident book record important for a claim?

Proving when, where and how an accident happened is key in any claim.

Not only does the record confirm that the accident and injuries actually occurred, it also helps demonstrate negligence and liability.

An accident book fulfils this objective through recording:

  • The date, time and place of the incident
  • Personal details of those involved
  • A brief description of the nature of the event
  • Details of the advice given and treatment offered

An accident book report should be filled out at the time of an incident, or as soon as possible afterwards. The injured party, if able to, should be shown what is written to confirm it is correct. Records must then be kept for three years, so even if a claim is not pursued immediately, this evidence can still be accessed.

What types of claims rely heavily on accident book records?

Three of the most common types of incidences which rely heavily on accident book evidence are:

  1. Accidents at work claims
  2. Slip accident claims
  3. Claims for accidents in public places

These types of cases can be contentious, pitching one person's version of events against another's. An accident book record helps confirm the details of the incident at the time helping clarify exactly what happened.

In most instances, an automatic record will be made in the accident book. However, if a person believes this was not done, they can contact the relevant third party to confirm it. If it was not, they can request that the incident is included after the event. This request can become evidence in itself.

What other types of evidence can help in a claim?

Although having no record in an accident book can be the result of negligence in itself, in many cases, incidences are not recorded in error - for example, because of the immediate and distracting nature of an injury which requires prompt emergency action.

But no matter the reason for the exclusion, where no accident record is available, a solicitor can build a case through other vital evidence relating to the incident. This includes:

  • Medical reports (detailing cause of injuries, ambulance location details etc.)
  • CCTV footage
  • Photographs of the hazards and injuries
  • Independent witnesses

Can a claim still be successful?

If the other evidence is sufficient, a claim can be successful but the chance of this will depend on the facts of the case.

In addition, having no accident book record should not affect the final compensation amount received.