Can I make an injury claim against a work colleague?

If an employee is injured at work when an employer fails in their ‘duty of care’, the employee could seek compensation from the employer. But what happens if the accident is caused by a work colleague?

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Vicarious liability

Accidents in the workplace are regrettably frequent. In some instances, an accident may be caused by another employee, rather than the employer.

Under the legal principle of 'vicarious liability', employees are not held personally liable for accidents they cause in the workplace. In common law, an employer is 'vicariously liable' for the actions (or inactions) of its employees if they are carried out "in the course of employment".

Even if the injury occurred as a result of the negligence or recklessness of another employee, compensation would still be paid by the employer.

Why are employers held liable for the negligence of their employees?

There are two reasons why the employer, rather than the employee, is held liable for injuries caused by employees:

  1. Employers have a 'duty of care' for the safety and wellbeing their employees. If they are found to have failed in this duty, they are held liable for the consequences. Even when an accident appears to result from the negligence or recklessness of another employee, the employer may still have failed to effectively train, manage the employee. It may be that workers were using faulty equipment, not given suitable safety equipment (PPE). It may also be that the employer was not effectively enforcing safety procedures in the workplace.
  2. To ensure that injured workers actually receive compensation, employers must are required, by law, to hold 'Employers Liability Insurance'. If an employee were to be held liable for another employee's injury, it may be the case that they would be unable to pay it. EL insurance ensures that injured workers can access the critical funds they need for their recovery and care.

How do I make a claim against my employer?

Your first step is to instruct a personal injury solicitor to take on your case. Your solicitor will submit a letter to your employer (the defendant) detailing the nature of your claim and the injuries caused.

The defendant must reply within 21 calendar days of posting the letter with details of their insurer. The defendant will then have a maximum of 3 months from the date of acknowledgement of the claim to investigate and reply.

The vast majority of claims are resolved out of court between your solicitor and the defendant or their insurer.

Employers' liability claims claims

Work accident claims are also known as employers' liability claims. Click on the icons below for more information:

How we can help you with your work accident claim

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Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor