A guide to making a No Win No Fee work-related injury claim
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.
Am I eligible to make a work accident claim?
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reports that over 620,000 people in the UK suffered an injury at work during 2015/16. 20% of these cases were manual handling injuries, 19% were slips and trips, and 10% were injuries caused by moving objects such as vehicles and other machinery.
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.
If you would have sustained an injury at work and would like to discuss your options, you can arrange a callback or call 0800 614 7456 for a free consultation.
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.
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. At a minimum, your employer must pay Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), which at the time of writing equates to £87.55 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 £111 per week 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.
When can you file a work injury claim?
Subject to applicable injury claim time limits, you may be eligible for a wide range of circumstances, include:
- Health and Safety breach-related claims
- Slip or trip claims
- Fall from height claims
- Claims relating to dangerous machinery
- Claims relating to hazardous substances
- Burns or scalds
- Injuries arising from inadequate training
- Manual handling incidents
- RSI, vibration white finger and hand-arm vibration syndrome-related claims
Injury compensation is calculated partly on the duration of your injury. Your solicitor will arrange for an independent medical report to consider how long your symptoms are like to persist, and how long they will affect your ability to work.
Work accident claim examples
Examples of injuries recognised as potentially limiting a claimant's ability to work include:
- Fractured and broken bones
- Hand injuries and arm injuries
- Back injuries, spinal injuries and neck pain-related conditions
- Injury to the legs and feet
- Chronic pain
- Head wounds and brain injury
In cases of serious injury, it may not be possible for an employee to return to their work, and in such cases, the extent of future lost earnings will be factored into the total compensation award.
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 regarding other steps you should take, at an early stage, to strengthen you claim should you choose to go ahead later.
Employed, self-employed and temporary workers
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. If 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. This organisation 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.
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, 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.
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 keep the workplace clean and tidy, to provide you with suitable tools and protective equipment to enable you to do your job safely, and to ensure you are fully trained to safely perform any tasks you are asked to do.
Who is 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.
Compensation for more serious or long-term injuries can run into £10,000s. The employer would generally be able to pay this amount through their insurance, whereas the employee responsible for the accident is unlikely to be able to afford to pay such a sum out of their own pocket.
Compensation if the claimant is partly responsible
Employees can still be compensated for an accident where the employer and employee are partly to blame. These cases are usually resolved with a split-liability agreement and the award amount may depend on the degree to which each party is responsible for the injury.
How long do I have to make a work accident claim?
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 often 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:
- Whether the accident occurred 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
That said, the basic outline will usually be the same, 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 agreement is reached, the compensation is paid out 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, is strongly recommended that you contact a solicitor to find out if you have a claim and to discuss the procedure.
Your initial consultation with a member of our network is free and confidential. You are under no obligation whatsoever to take things further.
How much compensation can I claim for an accident at work?
There is no such thing as typical work accident compensation, and average payouts are usually misleading.
During a brief phone consultation, a solicitor may be able to very roughly estimate a 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, and special damages.
General damages for a work accident
Awards for general damages are set by the Judicial Studies Board (JSB) and published in their guidelines for personal injury awards. These awards 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 medical treatment, loss of earnings and any other expenses incurred.
It may be possible to claim for existing injuries or medical conditions that have worsened as a result of the accident.
How likely am I to win my work accident claim?
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 a work accident claim take?
Because employers' liability claims can arise from a very wide set of circumstances, an average work accident payout time would be misleading.
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.
Faster work accident claims
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?
If you require private medical treatment to expedite your recovery, or you are unable to pay bills as a result of not being able to work, 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 compensation is calculated
Accidents at work can have serious consequences for injured parties and their families. Quittance's personal injury solicitors work hard to secure maximum compensation:
- for pain, suffering and loss of amenity resulting from your accident
- 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
Quittance's solicitors help you to focus on your treatment and recovery, offering clear advice throughout the claims process.
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 a PI 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.
What does a work accident claim cost?
If you decide to choose Quittance Personal Injury for your accident at work compensation claim there will be no hidden or extra fees, nothing to pay up-front and the complete peace of mind that you will not be out of pocket.
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:
- 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
Work accident claim FAQs
Do I need a lawyer to make a work accident claim?
Technically, you do not need a lawyer to claim compensation for a work injury. However, work injury claims can be complex, and seeking the advice of a specialist lawyer is strongly recommended to ensure that your claim is successful, and that you don't lose out on compensation that you are entitled to claim.
Do I need a specialist work accident solicitor?
Ideally your claim would be handled by a specialist with experience handling similar injury claims. That said, you may not need to instruct a specialist “work accident” firm. Some of the best work accident solicitors work in diverse law firms that handle lots of different types of legal work.
Will my work accident claim go to court?
The great majority of cases are settled without the need to go to Court. This is because your employer's insurance company that would pay out in the event that a claim is successful
Who pays compensation for a work injury?
By law, all employers must hold Employers' Liability (EL) insurance. This insurance enables the employer to pay compensation if an employee is injured in an accident or becomes sick during their employment.
EL insurance ensures that a successful claimant will receive the full compensation they are awarded, and that this amount is not limited by what the company can afford to pay. EL insurance also means that the company is not required to pay the compensation itself - large companies may be able to afford to settle compensation claims even without insurance, but smaller companies could face bankruptcy if they had no insurance.
Could I lose my job if I claim compensation?
By law, your employer cannot fire you if you decide to claim compensation for an accident at work. In addition, you cannot be forced to resign or otherwise pressured into quitting (known as “constructive dismissal”).
If you feel threatened in any way, or are otherwise anxious about your employment status following a work accident, you should discuss your concerns with a solicitor. They will be able to explain your options fully, both in terms of making an injury claim, and in terms of your employment rights.
How do I know if I am self-employed?
If you are unsure about your employment status or know you are self-employed you may still be able to claim. Your eligibility to claim may depend on the circumstances of the accident. A personal injury lawyer will be able to discuss your options with you in more detail.
Will I need a medical for a work accident claim?
Although it it possible for the defendant to make an offer before the results of a medical are known, an independent medical exam is a necessary step to determine accurately the level of compensation that should be paid.
Your solicitor will help to arrange for the medical, and will answer any questions you have about the process.
Questions and work accident claims advice
Many potential claimants want to research their options before picking up the phone.
See our Help and Advice section for more information on specific parts of the personal injury claims process.
Starting a work accident claim
If you have more questions or are not sure if you can make a claim, our solicitors offer a free, no-obligation phone consultation to discuss all of your options.
You can also arrange a callback for a more convenient time.
If you are ready you can start your claim here or call us on 0800 612 7456.