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 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 breakdown

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

Occupations with a higher risk of injury include:

  • Nurses
  • Care workers
  • Construction workers and other trades

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 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.

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?

A work accident injury claim should be possible if you were injured:

  • in the last three years and;
  • someone else was to blame.

It may be that, for example, the accident happened more than 3 years ago, or that you were partly at fault. If so, you may still be able to make a claim.

To get impartial advice on whether you have a claim, speak to a work accident claim expert 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 the injury was diagnosed years after the event?

Typically, the dates of the injury and accident are the same. However, some injuries manifest themselves months or even years after the accident or exposure.

In this case, the clock starts ticking on the date of discovery (the date of diagnosis) of the injury rather than the date of the accident.

Read more

What if I feel I was responsible (or partly responsible)?

Generally speaking, if an injured driver or pedestrian was partly responsible for an accident or for their injuries, they can still 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 still 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.

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

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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 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."

What does this mean in practice?

In practice, this means it is your employer's duty to:

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 will be held legally 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.

What if my injury was caused by a member 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 are my rights following an accident 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.

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.

Self-employed, temps and zero-hours contracts

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.

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.

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.

Zero-hours contracts

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.

Read more about injury claims on a zero-hours contract.

Home workers

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?

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

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

Special damages are for financial losses and expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident.

See a list of what you can claim for:

Examples of special damages include:

  • Lost earnings (including future earnings)
  • Medical treatment costs
  • Physiotherapy
  • Travel costs
  • Costs of care
  • Costs of adapting your home or car

Find out what your claim could be worth now

Assessing a claim's value at the outset can be complicated.

If you would like a FREE claim estimate with no obligation to start a claim, call 0800 612 7456.

Alternatively, our compensation calculator will give you an instant estimate of what your claim is worth.

Calculate my injury claim

Caring and sensitive support

Your solicitor will handle your work accident case 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.

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 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'.

Check my exact claim limitation date with our date calculator

To find out your exact 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.

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

Should I make a work injury compensation claim?

Badly injured claimants are usually ready to make a compensation claim against a negligent driver, or against 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.

Read more: Could I lose my job if I make a work accident claim?

Helping you move forward

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.

Read more about making a No win, no fee claim

How can Quittance help?

Our highly experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning work accident claims. Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you.

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:

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Work Accident Claim FAQ's

Could I lose my job if I claim against my employer?

No, you cannot be legally dismissed for making a claim against your employer.

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.

Read more: Could I lose my job if I make a work accident claim?

Can I claim for someone else?

Yes. In certain circumstances, it is 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 behalf of the injured person.

The litigation friend will be responsible for communicating with the solicitors, and for making decisions in respect of the claim.

Read more about claiming on behalf of another person.

How long will my claim take?

The length of time needed to secure compensation can vary considerably.

For example, straightforward work accident claims can settle in a matter of weeks, whereas complex medical negligence cases can take years.

Injury claims can also take longer if it is not clear who is responsible for your injury, or if liability is denied by the defendant.

Taken from average case times, this table sets out approximately how long personal injury claims take to settle:

Personal injury claim type

Estimated claim duration*

Road accident claims

4 to 9 months

Work accident claims

6 to 9 months

Medical negligence claims

12 to 36 months

Industrial disease claims

12 to 18 months

Public place or occupiers’ liability claims

6 to 9 months

MIB claims (uninsured drivers)

3 to 4 months**

CICA claims (criminal assault)

12 to 18 months**

*RTA and other claims processed through the Ministry of Justice portal can settle faster.
**Official Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) Government agency and Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) figures.

Read more about how long personal injury claims take.

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.

Read more: Will my injury claim go to court and what if it does?

Will I have to go to a solicitor's office?

No. You will not need 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.

Read more: Will I have to visit a solicitor's office?

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.

Read more about interim compensation payments.

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. 

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

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.

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

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

Read more FAQ's


  • 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