Can I claim for an injury if there's no record in the accident book?

Accident book

If you are injured in accident at work or on public premises, your employer or the occupier has a duty to record it in an accident book. But happens if you decide to make a compensation claim and your accident was not recorded?

What is an accident book?

An accident book is an essential document for employers and occupiers, who are required by law to record and report details of specified injuries and incidents.

The accident book helps manage health and safety issues and may provide key evidence for an injured person when pursuing a claim.

When assessing your potential personal injury claim, your solicitor will consider how successful your claim is likely to be. If there is no record in an accident book, it may be more difficult to establish the facts. Your claim can still be successful, however, provided that other evidence is available.

What does the law say about accident books?

Employers and occupiers in control of public premises (e.g. supermarkets and restaurants) are required by UK health and safety law to keep a record of any accident, incident, injury, disease, or dangerous occurrences.

Records can be kept in any format, but accident books are preferred as they comply with the requirements of the Data Protection Act and GDPR.

In addition, accidents that result in a person needing more than 7 consecutive days off work must be reported under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR).

Why is an accident book record so important when making a claim?

Proving when, where, and how your accident happened is key when making a claim. A record in the accident book will help establish that:

  • an accident occurred
  • the accident resulted in an injury
  • there may have been a duty of care breach

Claims can be contentious - pitching one person's version of events against another's. An accident book record will help helps confirm the details of the incident at the time helping clarify exactly what happened.

Specifically, the accident book will capture:

  • The date, time, and place of the incident
  • Personal details of those involved
  • A brief description of the nature of the event
  • Details of the advice given and treatment offered

An accident book report should be completed at the time of the incident, or as soon after as possible. You should be shown the report to confirm it is correct. Records must then be kept for three years, so even if you don't start a claim immediately, this evidence can still be accessed.

I don't know if the accident was reported

In most instances, the accident book would be completed as part of a company's standard process. If you believe your accident was not recorded, you should contact the relevant party to check. If your accident was not recorded, you can request that the incident is recorded after the event.

This request can become evidence in itself.

I had an accident at work but didn't report it - can I still claim?

Yes. Whether or not you reported the accident at the time, you still have the right to claim compensation. Without an accident book entry, a claim may be harder to win, however. Claims can be particularly difficult to pursue if there were no witnesses and some time has passed. Your solicitor can advise further on this point.

Am I entitled to a copy of an accident report?

It depends. Employers are legally required to record accidents, but they are usually not required by law to share these records with you. Company policy may state that accident records will be shared on request, and such policies should be consistently followed if they exist. If you would like a copy, there is no reason why you cannot ask, and many employers will be happy to provide this information.

It is a good idea to ask for a copy soon after the accident (or as soon as you can), so you can check that the details are correct.

What other evidence can help my claim?

It is possible that an employer or occupier deliberately decided not to write an accident report. More often, a failure to make an entry in the accident book is an oversight, perhaps due to the immediate and distracting nature of an injury that requires prompt emergency action.

Whatever the reason, if no accident record is available, your solicitor will endeavour to build your case using other evidence, such as:

  • Medical records and reports
  • Ambulance records
  • Police reports
  • CCTV footage
  • Photographs of the accident site
  • Photographs of your injury
  • Diagrams showing how the accident occurred
  • Independent witness accounts
  • A diary of events

See also:

Can I claim injury compensation if there were no witnesses?

Work accident claims

Public place injury claims

Speak to a solicitor

Even if you feel there is little evidence to support a potential claim, you should speak to a solicitor. Personal injury solicitors are highly skilled at finding and collating evidence to support a claim. A solicitor will advise you, without obligation, whether a claim might be possible and how best to proceed.

How did your injury happen?

The claims process will vary depending on how your injury happened. Click the icons below to learn more:

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Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher