A Guide to Claiming Work Accident Compensation
The following article takes you through everything you need to know about making a successful accident at work compensation claim.
What are the work injury statistics?
The latest data available in 2019 is the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report on work accident data (2016/17). In this period, over 600,000 people in the UK were injured at work.
See work injury statistics breakdown
- 22% manual handling injuries.
- 29% slips and trips.
- 10% caused by vehicles and other machinery.
- 7% falls from height.
Occupations with a higher risk of injury include:
- Care workers
- Construction workers and other trades
What should I do if I have an accident at work?
There are several 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 an injury at work claim, you should still follow these steps.
If you would like to speak to someone who will guide you through the necessary steps following an accident at work, call us on 0800 612 7456.
Do I have a work accident claim?
It should be possible to make a work accident claim if you were injured:
- in the last three years and;
- someone else was to blame.
Even if these two points don't apply to you, you may still be able to make a claim.
To find out for sure, speak to a legally trained adviser on 0800 612 7456.
A brief phone consultation will tell you exactly where you stand. There is no obligation to start a claim.
You can also find out if you have a claim with our Online Claim Checker.
What if I feel I was responsible (or partly responsible)?
If you were injured as a driver or pedestrian and you were partly responsible for your accident, you could claim a reduced compensation amount, though a split liability agreement.
However, if you were injured at work as the result of an accident you may have caused, you may be able to claim the full compensation amount. Your solicitor will consider factors such as:
- Did your employer provide you with adequate training?
- Were you given suitable protective equipment?
- Did your manager ask you to do something unsafe?
Even if you believe you were fully or partly responsible for your injuries, your employer may still have breached their duty of care towards you. Regardless of the circumstances of an accident at work, you should always discuss your options with a solicitor.
Your employer owes you a 'duty of care'
All employers owe a 'duty of care' to their employees. In general, your employer will be liable if you have been injured during the course your work.
The HSE defines 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."
What does this mean in practice?
In practice, this means it is your employer's duty to:
- Keep the workplace safe, clean and tidy.
- Provide employees with suitable tools and protective equipment to enable you to do your job safely.
- Ensure you are fully trained to safely perform any tasks you are asked to do.
But is my employer legally responsible?
If your employer failed in their duty of care to keep you as safe as reasonably possible, your employer would be held legally liable.
In some cases, your manager or another 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.
What if a member of staff caused my injury?
If another member of staff caused your work injury, the company would be held liable for that employee's actions. This principle is referred to as "vicarious liability".
Vicarious liability enables you to make a work injury claim against your employer. You could make a claim even if a negligent worker's lapse of judgement or error caused the accident.
What are my rights following an injury at work?
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.
Many laws 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.
Self-employed, temps and zero-hours contracts
If you were injured at work, whether you were a full-time or part-time employee, you would be eligible to make a work accident compensation claim. This would apply even if you were injured on the morning your first day.
Agency and temp workers
A work injury compensation claim would usually be made against the company where you were working when injured, rather than the agency that technically employed you.
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.
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.
Regardless of the type of contract you are on, your employer still owes you a duty of care.
If your working conditions are unsafe in any way and you are injured as a result, you can claim work accident compensation even if you are on a zero-hours contract.
Home workers, sometimes called “out workers”, may be eligible to claim against their employer if they are injured while working from home.
Whether you will be able to claim as a home worker will depend on the circumstances of your accident, and the degree to which your employer owed you a duty of care.
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.
The amount of money you could claim for your work accident will depend on:
- the extent of your injury, and
- any financial losses or costs you have incurred.
At the start of your claim, your solicitor will consider the many ways your work accident has affected your life. Your solicitor will take all of these effects into account to calculate the correct compensation award for you.
This calculation will factor in 'general damages' and 'special damages'.
General damages are awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA).
Awards for general damages are set by the Judicial College and published in their guidelines for personal injury awards.
Special damages are for financial losses and expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident.
What can I claim for after a work accident? (see list)
Examples of special damages (losses you can claim for) include:
- Lost earnings (including future earnings)
- Medical treatment costs
- Travel costs
- Costs of care
- Costs of adapting your home or car
How is compensation calculated if I have multiple injuries?
If you have sustained multiple injuries, the compensation amounts are not simply added together.
The upper bracket of the most serious injury may be considered as a starting point, with a reduced amount applied for the other less severe injuries.
General damages for a serious arm injury can be £45,000
For a more minor hand injury, in isolation, you would typically receive £3,000.
However, if you have a serious arm injury and a more minor hand injury, you would typically receive £45,000 + a reduced percentage of £3,000.
Special damages, such as loss of earnings are not usually increased if you have multiple injuries.Read more about multiple injury claims
What is the average injury compensation for a work accident claim?
The Judicial College injury tables give a approximate idea of the ranges awarded for different injuries.
However, the money you would receive following a work accident will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.
Your work accident compensation will be calculated based on the unique impact your injuries have had on your life, your ability to work, and the actual financial losses you have incurred as a result of your injuries.
See the injury table above for some examples.
Will a work injury claim affect my benefits?
It may. The receipt of a compensation award could affect the calculation of any means-tested benefits. One approach to protecting your benefits, would be to set up a "Personal Injury Trust" or "PI Trust". Read more: Should I set up a personal injury trust?
Work accident compensation
Calculating how much compensation you can claim for a work accident injury can be complicated.
Our injury compensation calculator tells you if you may have a claim, how much compensation you could claim, and what you can claim for.
Find out what your work accident claim could be worth now:
How long does a work injury claim take?
The length of time needed to secure compensation for a work accident can vary considerably.
For example, if your employer accepts liability, a claim can settle in a matter of weeks. If liability is denied, however, a claim can take longer. Typically, a work accident claim takes 6 to 9 months. For more information on how long your claim could take, see:How long will my claim take?
Will I still be able to claim for a work accident after the law changes in April 2020?
The law relating to personal injury claims is changing in April 2020.
You will no longer be able to claim no win, no fee compensation using a solicitor for lower value claims (under £5,000).
In addition, compensation for whiplash and other soft-tissue injuries will be reduced.
Caring and sensitive support
Your solicitor will handle your work accident claim from the initial consultation through to the financial settlement. In addition, your solicitor will work with other specialists to help you with:
- Financial support: interim payments while you are unable to work.
- Advice: on personal injury trusts, tax and welfare benefits.
- Coordination: with rehabilitation providers and therapists.
- Access: to treatment and therapies not always available on the NHS.
Who pays for this specialist help?
The cost of treatment will be factored into your compensation settlement paid by the defendant or their insurance company. Should you require private treatment before the case settles, an interim payment to cover treatment costs may be possible.
How long after an accident can I 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 (in most cases) you can no longer make a work injury claim.
In these situations, the three-year time limit starts counting from the injured person's 'date of knowledge'.
Check my exact claim limitation date with our date calculator
To find out your precise claim limitation date, please use 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.
Should I make a work injury compensation claim?
Badly injured claimants are usually ready to make a compensation claim against a negligent driver, or the local council for failing to maintain a pavement.
However, employees are sometimes reluctant to make an injury claim against their employer.
Employees often form close bonds with their employer. The boundaries between professional and personal relationships can be come blurred.
The risk of being fired or even being unemployable as a result of making a claim is also common.
Helping you move forward after an injury at work
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.
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.
Other ways a solicitor can help after a work accident
In addition to getting financial compensation for you, personal injury solicitors can assist in many other ways:
- 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.
No win, no fee
With a no win, no fee agreement (known as a 'Conditional Fee Agreement' or 'CFA') you can make a work accident claim without having to pay upfront legal fees. If your work accident claim is unsuccessful you won't have to pay any money to your solicitor.
Our no win, no fee promise
Our no win, no fee guarantee means there is absolutely no financial risk in making a work accident claim, even if you don't win your claim.
What do I pay if I win my work accident claim?
Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, after your compensation is awarded. The solicitor's success fee can be up to 25%. You and your solicitor can agree the success fee before you start your claim.
What do I pay if I do not win my work accident claim?
If your work accident claim is not successful then you will not have to pay any fees. Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.
What is Legal Aid available for?
In 2000, the government abolished the right to legal aid in personal injury law cases. Depending on an individual's circumstances, Legal Aid may be available for discrimination cases, criminal cases, family mediation and court or tribunal representation.
How can Quittance help?
Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning work accident claims.
If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open 8am to 9pm weekdays, 9am to 6pm on Saturday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.
Call us FREE 0800 612 7456 or arrange a callback:
if you can claim
to start a claim
Work Accident Claim FAQ's
Could I lose my job if I claim against my employer?
No, if you make a claim against your employer, you cannot be legally dismissed.
The law is clear on this point. If an employer tries to dismiss an employee or forces an employee to leave because they made a claim, there would be a case for unfair or constructive dismissal.
Can I claim for someone else?
Yes. It may be possible to claim compensation on behalf of another person in the capacity of a 'litigation friend'.
If an injured person is either too young or vulnerable, too injured or otherwise unable to claim on their own behalf, their litigation friend can handle the claim process on their behalf.
The litigation friend will be responsible for communicating with the solicitors, and for making decisions in respect of the claim.
Will I have to go to court?
Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by Quittance’s solicitor panel are settled out of court.
Only a very small percentage (approx. 5%) of personal injury claims go to court. Generally, only very complex cases, or those where liability cannot be resolved, end up in court.
Cases that do ultimately go to court are held in front of a judge, not a jury.
Will I have to go to a solicitor's office?
No. You will not need to visit a solicitor's office. As with most professional services, it is no longer necessary to meet face to face with your solicitor. Personal injury claims are dealt with via email, post and telephone.
Should you need to have a medical, this will be arranged at a medical centre near you or at your GP's surgery.
Can I get an interim compensation payment?
If you suffer financial hardship as a result of a work injury, you may be able to claim interim compensation payments.
An interim payment is a partial settlement of your claim which is paid before your claim is concluded. The amount you receive in interim payments would then be deducted from your final compensation settlement or award.
Can I claim if my employer has gone bust?
Yes. If your employer has ceased trading, you can usually still claim compensation for an injury that happened during your employment.
However, the claim may take considerably longer to process. This delay is due to the time it takes your solicitor to identify your ex-employer's insurance company at the time your injury occurred.
What if my employer's insurer has gone bust?
Even if both your employer and their insurer has gone out of business, you may still be able to make a claim for your work-related injury.
What if my accident didn't happen on my 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 protects both employees generally and also workers exposed to particular risks. These rules include:
- Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974
- Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
- Manual Handling Regulations 1992
- Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992
- Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
- Working Time Regulations 1998
- Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999
- Work at Height Regulations 2005
- Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005
- Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005
- Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals Regulations 2007
- Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008
- Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013
- Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015
- 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.
About the author
Howard qualified as a solicitor in 1984 and has specialised in personal injury for over 25 years. He is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and is a recognised Law Society Personal Injury Panel expert.
Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert