A Guide to Claiming Refuse Collector Injury Compensation

In the following article we set out what you need to know about making a waste worker accident compensation claim.


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, around 5,000 refuse collectors, suffer a work-related injury according to figures from the Health and Safety Executive.

This injury rate, which is around four times greater than other industry 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 a refuse collector injury claim?

As a basic rule, you will be eligible to make a refuse collector injury claim if you were injured:

  • within the last three years and,
  • another person was to blame.

Even if these two points don't apply to you, a claim may still be possible.

To get a definitive answer, you can speak to a legally trained adviser on 0800 612 7456.

A short call will tell you exactly where you stand. We will not put you under pressure to make a compensation claim.

Alternatively you can try 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

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How much compensation can I claim for a refuse collector injury?

The amount of money you could claim for your refuse collector 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 refuse collector 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.

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 refuse collector injury 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.

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.

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.

No win, no fee

No win, no fee takes the risk out of making a refuse collector 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 a refuse collector injury claim - even if you don't win your claim.

What do I pay if I win my refuse collector 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 refuse collector injury claim?

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

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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Refuse Collector 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 will my claim take?

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

For example, straightforward car 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 an 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.

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