A Guide to Claiming Health and Safety Breach Injury Compensation

If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a health and safety breach injury we can help.

The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered a health and safety breach injury and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.

Introduction

According to the latest Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures available in 2019, 1.4 million people were suffering from a work-related illness or injury in 2018.

In the same period, the Labour Force Survey showed that were 550,000 injuries at work and over 71,000 work injuries reported to RIDDOR.

In a large majority of these cases, the cause of injury resulted from working conditions which resulted from a breach of health and safety.

Employers are legally bound to ensure the health and safety of employees in the workplace.  If you were injured at work as a result of the actions or negligence of your employer, you may be able to claim compensation.

See also: Accident at work compensation claims

What are my employer's legal obligations?

In addition to the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, there is a wide range of legislation addressing safety in the workplace. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was set up to help regulate and enforce this legislation, as well as offering practical implementation advice to employers.

Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974

The basis of UK health and safety law, this act has several explicit provisions addressing workplace safety. These provisions require employers, as far as is ‘reasonably practicable' to:

  • Carry out full and ongoing risk assessments of work roles and the work environment
  • Implement adequate preventative measures and controls to avoid or minimise risk - including providing suitable personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Appoint competent persons to help with implementation and ongoing inspections
  • Provide clear and regular instruction and training to employees on the risks and control measures
  • Set up emergency and accident reporting procedures
  • Work together with other employers sharing the same workplace

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 help guide how the provisions are applied.

What other work safety legislation exists?

Other more specific legislation aimed at ensuring health and safety at work include:

With the legal framework and practical information now available to employers, breaches of health and safety should be minimised.

Typical injuries and illnesses

Health and safety breach claims encompass a wide-reaching range of injuries.

According to a recent report by the HSE, the most frequent causes of workplace injury are manual handling and slips, trips and falls from height.

Manual occupations have the highest injury rates, with sewerage and waste supply, agriculture, construction and transport being the industries most at risk.

What are the most common types of work-related conditions? 

The also HSE categorised the most common types of work-related health conditions as:

  • Stress
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Skin disease
  • Asthma

What about conditions that appear years after exposure?

The HSE also identified high latency conditions which can be caused by previous work activity and often appear years after exposure. These are:

  • Asbestos-related disease
  • Work-related hearing loss
  • Cancers Vibration-related disease
  • Other respiratory disease

How are people from different industries affected?

For each condition, there are higher reported cases amongst specific industries or work environments.

For example, work-related musculoskeletal disorders are common in construction and healthcare, while respiratory diseases are more likely amongst those who work with certain fumes, gases and dust.

Skin diseases are more common with florists, hairdressers and chefs. Cancers are more common in construction, shift work or exposure to mineral oils, solar radiation or silica.

Safety breaches could be relatively minor, such as not regularly mopping wet floors or providing the correct type of gloves. They can also be more serious, for example, failing to erect scaffolding correctly or to carry-out proper training for a large piece of machinery with dangerous moving parts.

Do I have a health and safety breach injury claim?

It should be possible to make a health and safety breach injury 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.

How much compensation can I claim for a health and safety breach injury?

The amount of money you could claim for your health and safety breach injury 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 health and safety breach injury 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.

What can I claim for after a health and safety breach injury? (see list)

Examples of special damages (losses you can claim for) include:

  • Lost earnings (including future earnings)
  • Medical treatment costs
  • Physiotherapy
  • 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.

For example:

General damages for a serious head injury can be £30,000

For a less serious shoulder injury, in isolation, you would typically receive £5,200.

However, if you have a serious head injury and a less serious shoulder injury, you would typically receive £30,000 + a reduced percentage of £5,200.

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 health and safety breach injury 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 health and safety breach injury will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.

Your health and safety breach injury 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.

Should I set up a personal injury trust?

If you are receiving means-tested benefits and are awarded compensation following a health and safety breach injury injury, your benefits could be affected. In order to ring fence your compensation and protecting your benefits, you may be able to set up a "Personal Injury Trust" or "PI Trust". Read more: Should I set up a personal injury trust?

Health and safety breach injury compensation calculator

Calculating how much compensation you can claim for a health and safety breach 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 health and safety breach injury claim could be worth now:

Calculate compensation

How long does a health and safety breach claim take?

How long it can take to process a health and safety breach claim can vary significantly.

For example, if your employer or their insurance company accepts liability, a claim might be concluded in a couple of months. If liability is denied, however, it could take significantly longer. Usually, a work accident claim should take 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 health and safety breach injury 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 health and safety breach injury 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.

How did your injury occur?

The claims process that your solicitor follows will vary, depending on how the injury occurred:

How does no win, no fee work?

No win, no fee means that your solicitor will not charge you any legal fees if your health and safety breach injury claim is unsuccessful. 'No win, no fee' is also known as a 'Conditional Fee Agreement' or 'CFA'.

No win, no fee guarantee

If you have been injured and it wasn't your fault, our no win, no fee guarantee takes the risk out of making a health and safety breach injury compensation claim.

What do I pay if I win my health and safety breach injury claim?

Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, once your claim is settled. 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 health and safety breach injury claim?

If your health and safety breach injury claim is not successful then you do not have to pay any legal fees whatsoever. Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.

Is there a penalty if I withdraw?

Under a No Win, No Fee Agreement (CFA), fees may apply if a claimant refuses to cooperate, or abandons their claim after the legal work has started, or if the claim is fraudulent.

Read more about making a No win, no fee claim

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:

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Health and safety breach injury FAQ's

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.

Can I claim if I was partly responsible for an accident?

You may still be able to claim compensation even if you contributed to your accident or to your injuries.

However, if you were partly to blame (known as contributory negligence), your compensation may be reduced and it may be more difficult to prove liability.

Read more about claiming compensation if you were partly responsible for an accident.

How long do I have to make a health and safety breach injury claim?

In general, you have a time limit of up to 3 years from the date of the health and safety breach injury to make an injury claim.

The last date you can make a claim is known as the claim limitation date - after which your health and safety breach injury claim becomes 'statute barred'.

Can I claim for a health and safety breach injury after 3 years?

Possibly. The general rule for adults is that a claim must be started within three years.

However, the three-year countdown starts on the day you learned of your injury or illness. This will usually be the date of the accident, but could be the date your doctor gave you a diagnosis.

There other circumstances that can also impact the limitation date. Call us now on 0800 612 7456 to find out if you are still able to claim health and safety breach injury compensation.

In reality, there are a number of factors that can affect whether a health and safety breach injury claim will be taken on by a solicitor.

Calculate your claim limitation date

Will I have to go to court?

Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by the 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 early compensation payment?

If you suffer financial hardship as a result of an injury, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.

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.

Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor

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