Work accident compensation claims

Introduction

If you have sustained an injury within the last three years, as a result of an accident either at your place of work or elsewhere while working for your employer, you may be entitled to make a claim.

man on crutches

Do I have a work accident claim?

What are the statistics?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reports that more than 609,000 people in the UK suffered an injury at work during 2016/17:

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

The HSE data reveals a high rate of injuries affecting muscles and bones across a wide range of professions, from nurses and health care worker, to people working in construction and other building trades.

Although some workers are at greater risk of injury than others, all employees have the right to compensation if they have been harmed as the result of their employer's negligence.

What is a “work accident claim”?

There is no single work accident claim definition.

A claim for an accident at work can refer to any situation where you were injured during the course of your employment, and the injury occurred as the result of something your employer did or failed to do.

Your solicitor might also refer to your case as an “employer's liability claim”.

To make a successful claim, your solicitor must establish that your employer was legally responsible for the accident and that your injuries resulted from the accident.

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 compensation to which you are entitled, and,
  • Your job is safe

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 and reduce risks, but also to ensure that employees are treated fairly if they decide to claim.

Summary

If you were injured at work in the last three years and you believe that your employer was to blame (even partly) to blames, then we can help you make a compensation claim.

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

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

  • report the 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 you are undecided whether or not to make a claim, a no-obligation phone consultation with a solicitor will provide you with more specific information.

Your solicitor will tell you what other steps you should take, at an early stage, to strengthen your claim.

Employed, self-employed and temporary workers

Employers' duty of care

All employers owe a 'duty of care' to their employees, and an employer may be held liable for 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:

Can anyone claim?

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

An employer owes all their staff a 'duty of care', regardless of how long staff have been employed, and regardless of the terms of their employment.

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 compensation.

Agency and temp workers

Most agency workers will take instruction from and be trained by the organisation where they are currently working, rather than the agency that arranged the work.

An agency worker's workplace will also usually provide necessary tools and protective gear, and will be responsible for workplace safety.

For these reasons, a 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 for any injuries.

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 claim.

Read more about self-employed worker injury claims.

Home workers

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

Whether a home worker compensation claim can be made 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 an accident that occurs as the result of circumstances well 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 an injury that arises from defective or inadequate equipment the employer has supplied or approved.

Is my employer legally responsible?

If you have been injured at work because your employer failed in their duty to keep you as safe as reasonably possible, your employer may be held liable to compensate you for the pain, suffering, lost earnings and other costs that you have incurred.

In some cases, a manager or other member of staff may not be directly "at fault" for your accident because they did something dangerous.

Many workplace injuries occur because an employer failed to act, and evidence that something was done in a certain way for months or even years without incident does not automatically protect an employer; the company may still be liable.

Companies are expected to carry out regular safety reviews and to 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 injury during the course of their work, the company would be held liable for that employee's actions.

This is referred to as "vicarious liability".

Even if an accident was caused by a negligent worker's lapse of judgement or error, the principle of vicarious liability enables a claim to be made against the employer.

Under the principle of vicarious liability, the employer would have to pay compensation (through their insurance).

Compensation if the claimant is partly responsible

Employees can still be compensated for an accident where the employer and employee both are partly to blame.

These cases are usually resolved with a 'split-liability agreement' and the award will depend on the degree to which each party is responsible for the injury.

How much compensation can I claim for an accident at work?

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 caution that a more accurate figure will depend on medical evidence, and on a more detailed assessment of the case.

The valuation of a claim for an injury at work is based on two parts;

General damages for a work accident

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 resulting from your accident

They are calculated in relation to the nature and severity of an injury and are set out in the form of minimum and maximum amounts for a given injury.

Special damages following an injury at work

You can also claim special damages for the cost of:

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

It may be also possible to claim for existing injuries or medical conditions that have worsened as a result of the accident.

If your employer has admitted liability for the accident, then the chances of your claim succeeding are very high.

If liability is not accepted, or only partly accepted, achieving a settlement can be more difficult. A good solicitor will work with you to build the strongest possible case.

How long does it take?

A work accident claim must usually be made within a three-year time limit.

After this time limit expires, the claim becomes 'statute barred', meaning the 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 in cases of the delayed symptoms of noise-induced deafness or exposure to hazardous materials.

In these situations, the three-year time limits starts counting from the injured person's 'date of knowledge'. This is typically the date they are informed of the diagnosis of their injury or illness.

The work accident claims process

The process for making a work accident claim will vary from claim to claim, depending on a wide range of factors, including:

  • Where the accident occurred i.e. on company premises or elsewhere
  • The seriousness of the injury
  • The long-term consequences of the injury
  • Who caused the accident
  • The degree to which the employer was at fault

The basic process is as follows:

  • You instruct a solicitor to act on your behalf
  • Your solicitor will arrange for an independent medical to be carried out to assess your injuries and prognosis
  • Your solicitor will work with you to gather other evidence
  • Your solicitor will notify your employer and their insurers of the claim
  • Based on an assessment of the medical and other evidence, liability will either be accepted or denied
  • If liability is accepted or if the employer wishes to settle the matter out of court, an amount for compensation will be negotiated and hopefully agreed
  • If an agreement is reached, the compensation is paid to you
  • If liability is disputed, or a final figure for compensation cannot be agreed, the matter may go to court (only a very few claims do go to court)

This article is intended as a guide to offer initial tips and advice to people who have been injured at work and who are considering making a claim. Please note that this content does not constitute formal legal advice.

If you have any questions about the work injury claims process, it is strongly recommended that you contact a solicitor to find out if you have a claim and to discuss the procedure.

How long does a work accident claim take?

Because employers' liability claims can arise from a very wide set of circumstances, there is no simple answer to this question.

Some personal injury claims are straightforward and a settlement is reached quickly, often within a few months. The duration of more complex cases can be much longer, and can take up to several years if liability or the severity of a serious injury is disputed.

How can I speed up my work accident claim?

There are steps you can take to speed up the processing of a work injury claim, such as responding to any questions as fast as possible, and by quickly returning any paperwork.

Depending on the nature of your injury or the circumstances of your recovery, it may not be possible to respond quickly without help. Your solicitor will be able to advise you if you need any help with any aspect of the claims process.

Can I get an interim payment for a work accident?

You may 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. A solicitor will be able to discuss this with you in more detail.

How No Win, No Fee works

Typically a 'no win, no fee' contract (also called a 'Conditional Fee Agreement' or 'CFA') is entered into between the claimant and your personal injury solicitor.

The No Win, No Fee agreement is basically the terms and conditions under which the solicitor works for their client.

The agreement details what the lawyers will do and how he will be rewarded if the claim is successful.

How we can help

Expert solicitor

Having qualified as a solicitor in 2005 Tim has nearly 14 years experience of employer liability claims

Our panel of expert work injury solicitors have years of experiencing helping employees who have sustained injuries including: 

We have assisted in a wide range of work injury circumstances including:

Work Accident FAQ's

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

If your injury was caused by your employer's negligence (and is the reason why you need to take time off work) your employer is not legally required to pay you your full salary.

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

As a minimum, your employer must pay Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), which at the time of writing (June 2018) 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.

If your condition qualifies as a disability, your employer may be required to pay your full salary.

In any case, if a shortfall exists between your full salary and the sick pay you receive during your recovery, you are entitled to claim for this shortfall as part of a work accident claim.

    Work accident-related legislation

    In recent decades, several key pieces of legislation have been passed, protecting both employees generally and also workers exposed to particular risks. These include:

    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. Chosen for their track record in winning claims, our lawyers have years of dedicated experience.

    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

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