A guide to work accident compensation claims

The following article takes you through everything you need to know about making a successful accident at work compensation claim.

What are the statistics?

The latest data available in 2019 is the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report on work accident data (2016/17). In this period, More than 609,000 people in the UK were injured at work:

  • 22% were manual handling injuries
  • 29% were slips and trips
  • 10% were caused by vehicles and other machinery.
  • 7% were falls from height

The data revealed higher risk occupations, including including nurses, care workers, construction workers and other trades.

However, all employees have the right make a claim if they been harmed as the result of their employer's negligence.

Are you looking for information a different type of work related injury?


Do I have an accident at work claim?

A claim should be possible if you were injured whilst working for your employer:

  • in the last three years and
  • your employer was to blame (even partly).

However, some personal injury solicitors might not take on your claim, even if you do qualify.

Do I have a claim?

Employers have a duty of care

All employers owe a 'duty of care' to their employees. An employer may be liable for work accidents that arise out of the course of an employee's work.

The HSE define an employer's responsibility as:

"making sure that workers and others are protected from anything that may cause harm, effectively controlling any risks to injury or health that could arise in the workplace."

This means that it is your employer's responsibility to:

Is my employer legally responsible?

If your employer failed in their duty of care to keep you as safe as reasonably possible, your employer may be held liable.

In some cases, your manager or other member of staff may not be directly "at fault" for your accident.

Many workplace injuries occur because an employer failed to act.

It could be that something was done in a certain way for months or even years without incident. This does not automatically protect an employer.

Companies must carry out regular safety reviews. These reviews ensure that a workplace meets current health and safety standards. Failure to conduct these regular checks may be evidence of an employer's negligence.

Injuries caused by other members of staff

In the event that another member of staff caused your work injury, the company would be held liable for that employee's actions.

This is referred to as "vicarious liability".

Vicarious liability enables you to make a work injury claim against your employer. This is the case even if a negligent worker's lapse of judgement or error caused the accident.

What if I was partly responsible?

The responsibility for an injury may be shared by both the employer and the injured employee. It may still be possible to make a successful compensation claim in these situations.

These cases are usually resolved with a split liability agreement. The level of compensation will depend on how much each party was responsible the work injury.

For example, if you were approximately 25% responsible for your injuries, you would receive 25% less compensation.

Read more about what happens if there is uncertainty over to who is to blame?

Should I make a work injury compensation claim?

Financial compensation may be necessary to support your treatment and recuperation. There are also other reasons to consider making a claim.

You, and your family, may be unable to meet your living costs (e.g. mortgage repayments) while you are unable to work.

Our panel of specialist work injury solicitors can help you:

  • Get access to cutting-edge medical treatment, physiotherapy and prosthetics
  • Get interim payments and claim benefits to cover your mortgage and living costs
  • Plan for short- and long-term adjustments, including adaptations to your home

Whatever the circumstances of your accident, speaking to a specialist solicitor at the earliest point can reduce the stress and financial burden of a work injury, so you can focus on your recovery.

After an accident at work, what are my rights?

Your rights following an injury at work are extensive. These rights are intended to ensure that:

  • You receive the work injury compensation to which you are entitled, and,
  • Your job is safe - your employer cannot fire you for making a work injury claim

There are many laws that protect specific types of workers and workers in specific industries, where those jobs expose workers to particular risks.

Legislation exists both to prevent injuries at work and reduce risks, but also to ensure that employees are treated fairly if they decide to make a work accident claim.

Read more: Could you lose a job if you claim against an employer?

What should I do if I have an accident at work?

work accident book

There are a number of things that can be done to help your solicitor build a stronger case for your work injury claim. The following steps should be taken as soon as possible after the work accident:

  • report the work accident
  • record the details of the accident in your employer's accident book
  • if need be, check that your employer has reported the accident to the Health and Safety Executive
  • gather details (name and address) and statements from witnesses
  • take photos of the scene of the accident

Even if you have not decided to make a claim, you should still follow these steps.

Employed, self-employed and temporary workers

Can anyone make a work injury claim?

Anyone who has been injured while working may be eligible to make a work accident compensation claim, even if they were injured on the morning of their first day.

No matter whether you are on a full-time, part-time or zero-hours contract, if you were injured at work, you may be entitled to claim.

Agency and temp workers

A work injury compensation claim would usually be made against the company where an agency worker was working when they were injured, not the agency that technically employs that worker.

If the agency has more control and responsibility for a worker's role, such as by providing training or equipment, the agency may be liable.

Read more about agency worker compensation claims.

Self-employed workers

Like agency workers, many self-employed workers work on premises owned or operated by another party. Examples include self-employed electricians or plumbers working on a building site.

If you are self-employed and have been injured as a result of the negligence of the operator of the premises where you were working, you may have grounds for a work accident claim.

Read more about self-employed worker injury claims.

Home workers

home office worker

Home workers, sometimes called “outworkers”, may be eligible to claim against their employer if they are injured while working from home.

Whether a claim can be made by a home worker will depend on the circumstances of the accident, and on the degree to which the employer owed a duty of care to the home worker.

An employer will not usually be held responsible for a work accident that occurs as the result of circumstances  beyond their control, such as a slip or trip caused by a family member's negligence.

However, an employer is expected to conduct safety assessments as appropriate, and they may be responsible for a claim that arises from defective or inadequate equipment the employer has supplied or approved.

How much compensation can I claim for a work accident?

How much can I claim?

During a brief phone consultation, a solicitor should be able to very roughly estimate the value of your claim, based on their experience with similar cases.

However, they will usually warn you that a more accurate figure will depend on medical evidence, and on a more detailed assessment of the case.

Your compensation will be based on:

General damages

Awards for general damages are set by the Judicial College and published in their guidelines for personal injury awards.

General damages are for pain, suffering and loss of amenity.

Special damages

You can also claim special damages for:

  • any medical treatment needed for your recovery
  • any expenses incurred, such as travel to hospital appointments
  • lost earnings or future loss of earnings if you have to take time off or cannot return to work

Read more: What can I claim for in a personal injury claim?

Is there a time limit to make a claim?

A claim must usually be made within three years of the date of the injury.

After this time limit expires, the claim becomes 'statute barred', meaning your work injury claim cannot be taken to court.

In some cases, a claimant may not be immediately aware that an accident caused an injury or illness. For example noise-induced deafness or exposure to hazardous materials.

In these situations, the three-year time limit starts counting from the injured person's 'date of knowledge'.

Find out your exact limitation date with our claim time limit calculator 

How can I speed up my work accident claim?

There are steps you can take to speed up the process, such as responding to any solicitor questions as fast as possible, and by quickly returning any paperwork.

Read more: What can I do to speed up my personal injury claim?

Can I get an interim payment for a work accident?

You may, for example, require private medical treatment to expedite your recovery, or be unable to pay bills as a result of not being able to work.

If required, interim compensation payments can usually be secured in advance of a final settlement.

Can I get interim compensation payments?

How does a No Win, No Fee work accident claim work?

No win, no fee means that you will not have to pay any legal fees if your claim is not successful.

If your claim is successful then you would pay the solicitor a 'success fee' which would be deducted from your compensation.  You and your solicitor would discuss and agree the success fee at the start of the case.

Read more about the benefits of no win no fee.

How can Quittance help?

Quittance is a panel of highly experienced personal injury solicitors.  Our solicitors have an excellent track record of winning employment liability claims and will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you.

To speak to us about your claim, without obligation, call 0800 612 7456 or click here to arrange a callback.

Meet the QLS team

Our nationwide network of solicitors carry out the legal work for all types of work accident claim and have a wealth of expertise with fast track, complex and serious injury claims.

Click here to meet more of the QLS team.

Kevin Walker Serious Injury Panel Solicitor
Emma Bell Employers and Public Liability Panel Solicitor
Shahida Chaudery Complex Injury Claims Panel Solicitor

Work Accident Claim FAQ's

Can I claim compensation if my employer has gone bust?

If your employer has ceased trading you are still able to claim compensation for an injury that happened while you were working for them, however this may take considerably longer to process.

Read more about can claiming compensation if your employer has gone bust?

Can I claim compensation if my employer's insurer has gone bust?

Even if an employer or their insurer has gone out of business, a former worker may still be able to make a work-related accident claim.

Read more about claiming for a work accident if the insurer has gone bust

Do I get sick pay if I am injured at work?

If you must take time off work to recover, your employer is not required to pay your full salary.

However, you are usually entitled to sick pay following an accident at work.

Your employer must pay Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). At the time of writing (September 2018), this equates to £92.05 per week, for up to 28 weeks.

SSP is only paid if you have been off work for at least four days in a row. You must earn at least £116 per week (before tax) to qualify and have reported your injury to your employer.

The terms of your employment may entitle you to more than the SSP minimum.

Your employer may have to pay your full salary if your condition qualifies as a disability.

There may be a shortfall between your full salary and the sick pay you receive during your recovery. If so, you can claim for this shortfall as part of a work accident compensation claim.

What if the accident didn't happen on the employer's premises?

If you were working at the time of the accident, it does not matter where the accident occurred. You can usually still make a claim.

What is the legislation relating to safety at work?

This legislation protect both employees generally and also workers exposed to particular risks. These rules include:

Read more work accident FAQ's here.


Guidelines For The Assessment Of General Damages In Personal Injury Cases. Oxford University Press, 2017.

Workplace fatal injuries in Great Britain 2018. Health and Safety Executive, 2017.

Health and Safety at Work 2017. Health and Safety Executive, 2017.

Workplace Accident Statistics. Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), 2018.

Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

About the author

Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.

Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert