I haven't taken time off work - can I still make an injury claim?
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), an estimated 38.8 million working days were lost due to work-related ill health and non-fatal workplace injuries in 2019/20.
Taking time off work is often considered to be supporting evidence of an injury when making a compensation claim. Lost earnings are taken into account when calculating the right level of compensation.
If you are both able to and wish to remain at work after an accident, however, this will not affect your entitlement to claim.
I have been in an accident - should I take time off work?
The decision over whether to take off work should depend on how you feel, whether you need time to recover and whether your ability to do your job is affected by your injury. If you do decide to return to work, this doesn't mean you can't make a claim.
When deciding whether to return to work, consider the following:
The type and severity of your injury
If, for example, you were in a road traffic accident and you sustained internal organ damage, a hospital stay and time off work will usually be required. If you have a soft tissue injury such as whiplash, you might decide to return to work if the level of pain and discomfort you are experiencing is tolerable, and is not exacerbated by doing your job.
The nature of your job
The extent to which your injuries affect your ability to do your job is key considerations. If you have a physically demanding job, such as construction, you will find it more difficult to carry out your role. On the other hand, if you work in an office or from home, you may be able to do your job unencumbered.
You should also consider whether doing your job will exacerbate your injury or put you at risk of further injury.
Your doctor's advice
Your doctor may advise you to take time off work to allow you to recover. For the benefit of your health, you should always follow this professional advice. If you ignore your doctor's recommendation and your injury worsens as a result, you would not be able to claim for this further injury.
If you do take time off work, you must follow your employer's rules for reporting your absence. You are able to self-certify yourself sick for up to seven days, after which a doctor's note will usually be required.
What if I decide not to take time off work?
If you decide to remain at work after your accident, it is important that you tell your employer about your injury.
If your injury was sustained at work, your employer should work with you to ensure you are not given responsibilities that could affect your recovery or risk further injury. Your employer should also carry out appropriate risk assessments to ensure that the risk of a similar accident is removed.
Will remaining at work affect the outcome of my claim?
To make a successful injury claim, your injury must have:
- happened in the last three years and;
- been caused by another party and;
- that party owed you a duty of care.
Your compensation settlement or award will be calculated by adding together:
- General damages - awarded for pain, suffering, and loss of amenity (PSLA), and;
- Special damages - awarded for any financial losses or costs you have incurred, including loss of earnings.
Your decision to return to work does not alter the circumstances around your accident. Your decision does not change the level of pain and suffering you have experienced.
Of course, you won't be compensated for lost earnings but you will still be able to claim for any other losses you may have incurred as a result of your accident.
Minimising and mitigating losses
As a claimant, you have a duty to mitigate and minimise any losses.
For example, you should not spend any more than you have to on facilitating your recovery. If you are having to arrange transport to and from hospital appointments, and it is possible to get a bus rather than a taxi, you should choose the least expensive option.
If you are replacing damaged clothing, you should purchase items of a similar value, rather than opting for pricier items.
Similarly, if you are able to continue to do your job, without pain, the risk to your recovery, or risk of further injury - you should do so. If the defendant can reason that you were in fact able to work but chose not to, they could dispute your claim for lost earnings.
How much compensation will I be able to claim?
Compensation will vary depending on the nature and extent of the injury and other losses. To get an idea of how much compensation you could receive, we recommend that you use our claims calculator.
The claims process will vary depending on how your injury happened. Click the icons below to learn more:
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Questions about the injury claims process?
Get all the answers in our comprehensive FAQ section:
- How will a personal injury claim affect my benefits?
- Will I have to pay tax on my injury compensation award?
- Can I make a personal injury claim for someone else?
- Can I claim injury compensation if there were no witnesses?
- Can I make an injury claim if I don't know who's to blame?
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.