Refuse Collector Injury Compensation Claims

If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by an injury at work, we can help.

If your injuries were caused by your employer or a co-worker, you may be entitled to claim compensation.

Claiming injury compensation with a solicitor

You can make a work accident compensation claim with the help and support of a personal injury solicitor.

Your solicitor will ask you about what happened, and they will collect evidence to prove what caused your injuries. Your solicitor will also work out how much money you can claim, based on your injuries, lost earnings and other expenses. By law, your employer will have insurance to cover the cost of injury claims, and your compensation will be paid out of this policy.

We can help you make a work accident claim on a No Win No Fee basis.

In this article


Each year, around 4 percent of workers in the waste collection industry are diagnosed with an illness they believe to be work related. A further 3 percent (approximately 5,000 refuse collectors) suffer a work-related injury according to figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

This injury rate, which is around four times greater than other comparable sectors, reflects the demanding nature of the job and the fact that refuse collectors often work in poor light and bad weather.

Any refuse collector who is injured due to the negligence of their employer or another third party may be eligible to claim compensation. Depending on the type of accident, the claim will likely fall under the category of accident at work claims or work-related illness claims, made against the local authority employer or private waste contractor.

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Do I have an injury claim?

It should be possible to make an injury claim if you were injured:

  • in the last 3 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 376 1001.

A brief phone consultation will tell you exactly where you stand. There is no obligation to start a claim.

What if the other party denies liability?

If the defendant denies liability, your solicitor will build the strongest possible case in order to prove that the defendant is responsible for your refuse collector injury. Ultimately the solicitor will issue court proceedings on the defendant. Often this prompts an admission of liability before proceedings begin.

How much compensation can I claim for an injury?

The amount of money you could claim for your injury will depend on:

  • the seriousness 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 injuries have affected your life. Your solicitor will take these considerations into account to calculate the correct compensation award.

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 an 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 severe hand injury can be £25,000

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

However, if you have a severe hand injury and a less serious shoulder injury, you would typically receive £25,000 + 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 an 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 an injury will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.

Your injury compensation will be calculated based on the unique impact your injuries have had on your life and your ability to work, and on the actual financial losses you have incurred as a result of your injuries.

Should I set up a personal injury trust?

If you are receiving means-tested benefits and are awarded compensation following a refuse collector 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?

Calculate my injury compensation

Calculating how much compensation you can claim for an 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 injury claim could be worth now:

How much can I claim?

How long does a refuse collector injury claim take?

The length of time needed to settle a refuse collector injury and illness claim can vary significantly.

For instance, if your employer accepts liability, a claim might be concluded in a couple of months. However, if liability is denied a claim can take longer. Typically, a work accident claim takes 6 to 9 months. Read more: How long will my claim take?

How else can a solicitor help me?

Your solicitor will handle your injury claim from the initial FREE case evaluation, through to the financial settlement.

Your solicitor will work with other specialists to provide caring and sensitive support and 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.

Common refuse collector injury claims

Workers in the waste collection and recycling industry are exposed to a number of hazards in the workplace. These common causes of injury are set out below.

Struck by a moving vehicle

Refuse collectors must travel in bin lorries as drivers and passengers and frequently cross roads to collect refuse bins. Unsurprisingly, a significant number of accidents occur on the road. These include vehicle collisions, pedestrian accidents and incidences where the refuse worker is struck by the waste collection truck.

These claims are often treated as road accident claims, made against the negligence driver, rather than the refuse workers employer. Compensation is usually paid out by the driver's insurance company.

Contact with machinery

The majority of domestic waste collection trucks in the UK are fitted with a mechanical hoist to raise and lower bins. Injury may occur if the hoist fails, causing a bin to fall on the refuse collector, or if the refuse worker becomes entangled in the hoist during the tipping cycle. Accidents of this type can cause serious crush injury, head injury and concussion.

Loading injuries

The introduction of bin hoists and wheelie bins has eliminated some of the risks associated with lifting heavy items. However, refuse collectors are still at risk of a manual handling accident when moving the waste bin from its storage place to the vehicle.

Trips, slips and falls

Refuse collectors frequently walk along public pavements and roads as part of their job. Defects such as potholes, raised paving slabs or icy, unsalted surfaces increase the risk of a slip, trip and fall accident.

Sharp object and needlestick injuries

Broken glass, serrated metal and other sharp objects are capable of causing cuts and lacerations if they are placed loose into a bin or refuse sack. Refuse collectors are also at risk of needlestick injury if syringes and dangerous sharps are negligently disposed into ordinary waste bins.

The Courts recognise that needlestick injuries often cause an amount of anxiety, stress or more severe psychological harm, as the injured worker worries about possible infection. It may be possible to claim for this harm even in cases where there is no resulting infection, due to the worker's very real fear.

Read more about needlestick injuries.

Is my employer liable?

Employers have a general duty to keep their workers safe from harm.

To minimise the risk of accidents occurring, employers must provide refuse collection workers with high visibility clothing and other types of personal protective equipment such as anti-slip safety boots and heavy duty gloves to protect against lacerations and needlestick injuries. Employers also have a duty to consider the ergonomic design of waste materials receptacles and to train all workers on the proper lifting and carrying techniques.

Failing to properly assess and minimise the risks associated with a refuse collection task may expose the employer to a compensation claim. Negligence is almost always established where the employer has breached a specific health and safety standard.

Personal Protective Equipment at Work (Amendment) Regulations 2022

The Personal Protective Equipment at Work (Amendment) Regulations 2022 came into force on 6 April 2022.

This legislation means that employers have an obligation to provide free Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to all workers, including workers who are self-employed or on a zero-hours contract.

Under the previous 1992 regulations, employers were only required to provide PPE to employees with a formal employment contract.

If you are injured at work and your employer failed to provide you with suitable PPE, you may be entitled to claim compensation - even if you are self-employed.

What if I was partly to blame?

Employees must also observe health and safety protocols. For example, refuse collectors must:

  • Wear the personal protective clothing provided by the employer
  • Follow standards for the safe lifting, carrying and loading of refuse bins
  • Observe the Highway Code if driving a waste collection truck
  • Ride inside the cab and not on the footplate of a moving vehicle.

Where there is evidence of some negligence or reckless behaviour on the part of the employee, a Court may decide that the refuse worker contributed to his own injuries. It may still be possible to bring a claim in this situation, but the claimant's award typically will be reduced to reflect the part they played in the incident.

Will I have to go to court?

Highly unlikely. Solicitors settle the vast majority of claims out of court.

Less than 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 decided by a judge or magistrate, not a jury.

Even if the claim does go to court, it is very unlikely you will have to attend.

Read more:

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

No win, no fee

No win, no fee takes the risk out of making an injury claim. If you do not win any compensation, you won't have to pay your solicitor any legal fees.

No win, no fee guarantee

Our no win, no fee guarantee means there is no financial risk in making an injury claim - even if you don't win your claim. Read more about making a No win, no fee claim

What do I pay if I win my injury claim?

Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, only 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 injury claim?

If your injury claim is not successful then you do not have to pay any legal fees at all. 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.

How we can help you

Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, and 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
  • 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday

Call us for FREE advice on 0800 376 1001, or arrange a call back from a friendly, legally-trained advisor:

Call me back
  • Tick icon FREE consultation
  • Tick icon Find out if you can claim
  • Tick icon No obligation to start a claim

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:

Claiming on behalf of another person.

Can I claim if I feel I was partly responsible for my accident?

Yes. You may still be able to claim compensation even if your actions may have contributed to the accident.

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:

Claiming compensation if you were partly responsible for an accident.

How long do I have to make an injury claim?

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

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

Can I claim for an 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 376 1001 to find out if you are still able to claim injury compensation.

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

Calculate your claim limitation date

Will I have to visit a solicitor's office to start a claim?

No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. Personal injury claims are handled by email, post and phone.

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?

I need the money now - what are my options?

If you are unable to work and have bills to pay, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.

An interim payment is an advance on your compensation payment. Any amount you receive in interim payments would be deducted from your final compensation payment.

Read more:

How to I get an interim compensation payment?

Jonathan Speight, Senior litigator

Jonathan Speight, Senior litigator