A Guide to Claiming Waiter and Waitress Injury Compensation

In the following guide we set out what you need to know about making a successful personal injury compensation claim.


Commercial kitchens are recognised by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as dangerous environments. According to the HSE, kitchens and restaurants and a frequent source of accidents in the workplace.

When kitchens are not suitably managed, in compliance with applicable regulations and health and safety standards, employees including wait staff are particularly at risk of injury.

Waiters and waitresses come into contact with hot drinks, ovens, knives and other kitchen equipment. Unlike other kitchen staff, these employees may not be fully trained in the safe use of such equipment.

All employers have a responsibility to protect their employees, visitors and members of the public from accidents and injuries. Any waiter, waitress or customer who is injured as a result of an accident in a restaurant environment may be eligible to claim compensation.

Restaurant table

Do I have a waiter and waitress injury claim?

It should be possible to make a waiter and waitress 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, you may still be able to make a claim.

Get impartial advice on whether you have a claim - you can speak to a legal expert on 0800 612 7456.

A brief phone consultation will confirm whether you have a claim. We will not put you under any pressure to pursue a claim.

Alternatively you can try our Online Claim Checker.

What if it was a criminal incident?

If your Waiter And Waitress Injury injury resulted from a criminal incident, you can pursue a claim via the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). The CICA must receive your application within 2 years of the Incident Date.

Read more

What if a child was injured?

The 3 year rule does not apply to minors.

A claim can be pursued for anyone under the age of 18 by a parent, guardian or litigation friend. The injured child has up to the age of 21 to start a waiter and waitress injury claim on their own behalf.

Read more about claiming injury compensation on behalf of a child.

Check my claim online

How much compensation can I claim for a waiter and waitress injury?

The amount of money you could claim for your waiter and waitress 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 waiter and waitress 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 waiter and waitress 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.

Accidents sustained by waiting staff

Waiters and waitresses may be exposed to a variety of hazards in the workplace. Injury compensation claims made on behalf of wait staff range from those relating to burns, scalds and lacerations to sprains, strains and broken bones.

The most common accidents include:

Slips and falls

Slips, trips and falls are the primary cause of injury in cafés and restaurants. Wet floors, grease and spillages are hazardous and should be cleaned away quickly to reduce the risk of an accident occurring.

Scalds and burns

Waiters and waitresses are often tasked with preparing hot drinks and carrying them across a busy restaurant floor. Spillages can cause serious scald injuries. Restaurant equipment, such as ovens, grills and fryers also pose a burn injury risk.

To reduced the risk of accident, employers are expected to provide the appropriate safety training as well as issuing suitable Personal Protective Equipment where it is appropriate to do so.

Manual handling injuries

Working in a restaurant often requires a reasonable amount of lifting, pulling and carrying. Injuries arising from this activity, such as muscle pulls and strains, can occur if the waiter is not given training in the proper handling techniques and may result in a manual handling claim.

Cuts and lacerations

Knives, graters and industrial slicers are all features of the modern commercial kitchen.

By law, dangerous machinery must be fitted with the proper guards and other safety mechanisms to reduce the accident risk, and waiters who operate any dangerous tools and machinery should be trained on how to do so safely.

Employers have a legal duty to protect their employees from injury in the workplace. As part of this duty, they must observe various pieces of health and safety legislation such as the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974.

Any employer that fails to implement safe working practices may be liable to pay compensation if the waiter or waitress is injured as a result. This will be a type of work accident claim brought against the owner of the restaurant and their insurance company.

Accidents caused by waiting staff

Some of the most common preventable accidents involving restaurant customers include:

  • The waiter or waitress spilling hot drinks or food on a customer, causing scald injuries
  • Being struck by the objects the waiter was carrying, such as a plate, tray or other heavy item. Injuries typically include bruises, lacerations and concussion injuries
  • Colliding with a member of waiting staff
  • Being handed a hot plate, causing burn injuries

Anyone who has been involved in an accident with a waiter, waitress or other member of restaurant staff may be eligible to claim compensation for their injuries.

Vicarious liability

Ordinarily, the claim would be brought against the restaurant owner and not the waiter or waitress directly. That is because the waiter's actions are the responsibility of the employer. This mechanism is referred to as "vicarious liability".

As with all personal injury claims, the claimant would have to prove that someone else was to blame for the accident in order to be awarded compensation. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help gather the appropriate evidence and make a robust case.

How did your injury occur?

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

At work

If you are thinking of making a work accident or injury claim, there are some key points to be aware of:

Work Accident Claims - What you need to know

In a public place (e.g. supermarket, pavement)

If you have been injured in a public place, there are some key points you need to be aware of:

Public Place Claims - What you need to know

Other claim types

Find details on another type of claim:

See list of other claims

No win, no fee

With a no win, no fee agreement, your solicitor agrees that you will have no legal fees to pay if your claim is not successful.

No win, no fee promise

Our no win, no fee guarantee means there is no financial risk in making a waiter and waitress injury claim, even if you don't win your claim.

What do I pay if I win my waiter and waitress injury 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%. Your solicitor will agree a success fee with you before you start your claim.

What do I pay if I do not win my waiter and waitress injury claim?

If your waiter and waitress 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 injury 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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Waiter And Waitress 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