I am self-employed - Can I still make a work injury claim?

Injured self employed man looking at finances

Many self-employed workers mistakenly believe they cannot claim work injury compensation, thinking there's no one to claim against except themselves. However, this isn't always true.

Both employed and self-employed individuals often have similar rights when making an injury claim. If you're self-employed and you were injured at work, you might still be eligible for compensation.

Employers' duty of care

All employers owe a legal 'duty of care' to their employees. If an employee is injured at work as a result of their employer's failure in their duty, a claim for financial compensation may be possible.

Practically speaking, this duty means that employers must ensure that the workplace is safe, clean, and tidy. Employees must be provided with suitable tools, personal protective equipment (PPE), and adequate training must be provided for the role to be safely carried out.

Self-employed workers are often considered in the same way as employees

Many sub-contractors and self-employed people work on premises owned or operated by another party e.g. self-employed electricians and plumbers working on a building site.

Self-employed workers are often treated similarly to employees in a legal context. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, places a legal obligation on employers to ensure the working environment is safe for anyone who has access to the workplace. Under this legislation, you have the same rights as a permanent member of staff.

Under what circumstances could make a claim as a self-employed worker?

As a self-employed worker you may not enjoy the same level of employment protection as your employed counterparts, you do still have the same health and safety rights.

If you are self-employed and you were injured as a result of the negligence of the owner or operator of the premises where you were working, you may have grounds for a work accident claim if, for example:

  • the company failed to make the working environment safe, and a preventable accident resulted from this breach
  • one of the company's employee's actions caused an accident
  • the firm has provided inadequate or faulty equipment which resulted in the injury
  • you spend most of your time working at the company where you sustained the injury or illness (Industries like building and farming rely on self-employed workers and contractors who often work on one project for long periods).
  • the company has control over your working practice or environment. In this case, the company's duty of care is similar to the duty owed to an employee. The same applies to contractors.

Am I eligible to make a claim ?

If you've been injured or made ill as a self-employed worker in the last three years and it wasn't your fault, you may be entitled to claim compensation.

Find out online if you can claim with our injury claim calculator. Alternatively, you can speak to a claims advisor on 0800 376 1001 and find out if you have a claim in minutes.

What if I was on a temporary or zero-hours contract?

Agency and temp workers

A work injury compensation claim would usually be made against the company where you were working when injured, rather than the agency that technically employed you.

If the agency has more control and responsibility for a worker's role, such as by providing training or equipment, the agency may be liable.

Read more:

How do I make an agency worker compensation claim?.

Zero-hours contracts

Regardless of the type of contract you are employed on, your employer owes you the same duty of care.

If your working conditions are unsafe in any way and you are injured as a result, you can claim work accident compensation even if you are on a zero-hours contract.

Read more:

How do I make an injury claim if I am on a zero-hours contract?

Homeworkers

Home workers, sometimes called 'out workers' or 'remote workers', may be eligible to claim against their employer if they are injured while working from home.

Whether you will be able to claim as a home worker will depend on the circumstances of your accident, and the degree to which your employer owed you a duty of care.

An employer will not usually be held responsible for a work accident that occurs as the result of circumstances beyond their control, such as a slip or trip caused by a family member's negligence.

By law, a health and safety risk assessment should be carried out to identify and manage risks to employer safety and the safety of others. The employer is still required to carry out a full risk assessment even if you work from home.

If your employer fails to carry out a risk assessment or fails in their obligation to provide a safe working environment, your employer may be held liable for your injury. If the injury arises from defective or inadequate equipment, your employer has supplied or approved, a claim may be possible.

What should I do if I am injured at work?

There are several things that can be done to help your solicitor build a stronger case for your work injury claim, regardless of your employment status.

We would recommend the following steps are taken as soon as possible after the work accident:

  • report the work accident
  • record the details of the accident in your employer's accident book
  • if need be, check that your employer has reported the accident to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
  • gather details (name and address) and statements from witnesses
  • Always collect evidence - even if liability is admitted by the employer - take photos of the scene of the accident

Even if you have not decided to make an injury at work claim, you should still follow these steps.

Read more:

Claiming compensation following an injury at work

Employers' liability claims claims

Claiming compensation as a self-employed person is still usually considered a work accident, or employers' liability, claim. Click on the icons below for more information:

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Citations

Limitation Act 1980

Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor

Author:
Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor