Accident at Work Claims – Your Rights Explained

Data from the Labour Force Survey put the number of self-reported non-fatal injuries at a whopping 693,000 for the 2019/20 period (up from 555,000 in 2017/18 and 581,000 in 2018/19). So, for anyone unfortunate enough to have been involved in an accident at work, you are not alone.

The good news is that there are regulations and statutory rules in the UK that address work-related safety issues and how this impacts accident at work claims.

With guidance from the Health and Safety Executive, business owners and employers must adhere to several guidelines aimed at mitigating injury and health risks that could happen in the workplace.

To ensure the welfare and safety of both workers and visitors, employers are responsible for:

  1. Providing a safe workplace that is clean, tidy, and devoid of health risks;
  2. Training employees on how to safely carry out assigned duties;
  3. Issuing workers with the proper tools and protective gear; and
  4. Ensuring timely maintenance of machinery and other equipment to prevent malfunctions that may cause accidents.
  5. Current regulations also require businesses to have Employer Liability Insurance.

So, if you believe that your employer neglected statutory responsibilities and, as a result, you sustained an injury whilst working, consider filing an accident at work claim to seek compensation.

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Accident At Work Claims – The Most Common Questions People Have Answered

Raising a claim against your place of work can cause a level of uncertainty. Will you lose your job? Will you face disciplinary action? How do you know if your claim is valid?

The rest of this guide will be devoted to answering these questions – and more. To give you a good overview of why you can claim (without fear of losing your job) and how to start a claim against your employer.

1 What Kind Of Accidents Qualify For Worker’s Compensation?

You may be able eligible for compensation after sustaining an injury at work or while executing duties assigned to you by your employer.

However, you must prove that the appointing authority has a legal liability to pay compensation and a claims adviser can assist and review your case to see if it qualifies. A valid case can exist if you suffered a work-related injury or illness due to:

  • Inadequate training or supervision that leads to improper handling of hazardous materials
  • Inadequate training or supervision that leads to the incorrect or unsafe operation of machinery
  • Not being given the correct personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Overexertion during lifting and manual handling tasks
  • Slips, trips, and falls or being struck by falling objects
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals in the workplace
  • Operating unmaintained or defective equipment
  • Negligent acts from co-workers (also known as vicarious liability)
  • Unsafe methods of working
  • Acts of workplace violence
  • Failure to carry out regular safety reviews

If you are unsure of whether an accident sustained at work or while working for an employer is eligible for compensation, you can arrange to speak to a claims adviser for free, here.

2 What If I’m Partly To Blame?

Sometimes employee actions or lack thereof can contribute to an injury in the workplace. But, even in cases of contributory negligence, you might still be eligible for compensation if your employer is found to be partly at fault.

Such claims can sometimes be difficult to prove and will require both parties to agree on the split liability, but a claims adviser will be able to assist you, should this be the case.

The level of compensation due to you in a successful case of this type will depend on the degree of blame apportioned to each side. For example, if you are deemed 50% responsible for your injuries, you will receive half the full compensation amount that would have been awarded if your employer had been entirely at fault and so on.

3 I Had An Accident At Work, What Are My Rights?

Persons injured at work have rights protected under UK law. To begin with, you are entitled to make a personal injury/accident at work claim against your employer. Nobody should stop you from exercising this right regardless of your terms of employment.

What If I Am Self-employed?

If you are self-employed and your work involves travelling to different job sites, your clients have a responsibility and duty of care to provide safe premises. Therefore, you can still have grounds to file for an accident at work claim even in such circumstances.

What If I Am An Agency/temporary Worker?

Temporary and agency workers also have the same right to sue the company they are working for when an injury occurs.

Sometimes, the recruiting agency for such employees can be liable if it is partly responsible for the working conditions of workers, especially when required to provide equipment or training.

According to the Reporting of Injuries, Disease, and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR), your employer should acknowledge your injury in writing. Under this piece of legislation, employers are not just required to report, but also keep a record of accidents and injuries that happen at work. Statistics from the HSE show that 65,427 employee injuries were reported under RIDDOR in 2019/20.

Dependant on the severity and type of work-related injury/long term illness sustained, certain workers in the UK may be entitled to the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB).

Handled and assessed by the Department for Work and Pensions, IIDB applies to specific workers in a no-fault scheme who suffer physical impairment or contract a disease caused by their work.

4 Will I Lose My Job Or Face Disciplinary Action After Claiming Against My Employer For A Workplace Injury?

Many workers fear reprisals from their employer due to filing a personal injury lawsuit for an accident at work. Legally, you cannot lose your job because of making a compensation claim against your employer.

If you are harassed or sacked for making a claim, you may also then have grounds to sue for constructive or unfair dismissal.

5 What Should I Do After Suffering An Illness Or Accident At Work?

In the aftermath of an accident at work, there are certain steps you can take to start building a strong case for compensation.

First, make sure to report the matter to your superiors straight away. By law, it is a requirement for all employers with 10 or more employees to have an accident report book, for capturing and recording all workplace injuries.

If this provision is unavailable, create a written account of what happened in duplicate and provide one copy to your employer. Also, don’t shy away from requesting someone to help you record the incident if you are too hurt to do it yourself.

Next, seek assessment and treatment for your injury, even if it does not seem serious. Getting medical care promptly can prevent an injury from getting worse, and importantly, you will start to gather the evidence needed to justify the compensation due to you in a successful claim.

If possible, take photos of where the accident happened. Try to gather witness statements as well. Gather the names and contact details of co-workers who were present at the time of the incident. It is helpful to write down as many details of the incident as you can, whilst it is fresh in your mind.

6 Can I Get Paid While Recuperating From An Accident At Work?

Your employer may offer statutory sick pay (SSP) while you recover from an accident at work. However, this benefit is not available for all workers. Employees who make National Insurance Contributions can seek SSP, but only if their income is above the lower earnings limit.

7 Do Accidents At Work Claims Have A Statutory Time Limit?

If you wait too long before initiating legal action for an accident at work, it may reach a point where your claim will be time-barred.

In the UK, there is a statutory limit of three years for personal injury cases. In the majority of cases, this means you have to file your claim within the specified 3-year time frame, which commences from the date you sustained your injury.

However, there are some important exceptions, as outlined below…

For instance, a condition may only manifest itself much later than when you originally suffered the workplace accident. If it can be directly attributed to that incident or exposure to harm whilst employed, then the deadline to file a case will begin from when you first became aware of your work-related injury/condition (which could in fact be later than 3-years since the incident).

A good example is when an employee receives a diagnosis for having mesothelioma after years of exposure to asbestos in the workplace.

It is worth noting that the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefits scheme provides cover for over 70 prescribed work-related conditions that workers can develop during employment, so you are by no means alone.

Sadly, fatalities from work-related accidents can occur, either at the time of the accident or during the expected recovery period. In such cases, family members of the deceased must begin court proceedings within three years from the time of death.

8 What Would Be The Compensation Amount For My Accident At Work Claim?

The amount of compensation you can claim for a work-related accident/injury will depend on several factors. Aspects such as the severity of your injury, the amount of time needed off work, whether you will be able to resume your normal duties or not, whether an injury has long term health implications and if there are dependents affected by your inability to earn a living will all be taken into account.

To get a ballpark figure of the settlement that may be awarded to you in a successful claim, seek legal advice from claims specialists. The final possible payout will aim to compensate you for:

1) General Damages

Which cover pain and suffering. The amounts you can claim in this category cannot be exaggerated and are set by the Judicial College guidelines. Ultimately, general damages rely heavily on the extent of your injury and the impact it has on your quality of life.

2) Special Damages

Which compensates for any financial loss or expense that you have had to shoulder due to the workplace accident. Anything from wages lost because of days spent away from work to the cost of treatment, surgery, physiotherapy, medication, special care, and travel expenses for doctor appointments are all possible to recover.

And, if there is sufficient medical evidence to support that the victim may never be able to work again, then there is a valid reason to claim for future loss of earnings.

9 Can I Claim An Interim Settlement?

Yes, your solicitor can negotiate for an interim payout to cater for any financial hardships that may arise from the accident.

Such partial payments typically come from parties that have already admitted liability. Although your solicitor can secure interim compensation before your claim concludes, keep in mind that it will be a deductible from the final settlement amount.

10 If My Employer Goes Out Of Business, Will I Still Get Compensation?

Under UK law, most businesses with at least one employee have a legal requirement to obtain an employer’s liability insurance cover. If your employer is insolvent, you can still seek compensation directly from the insurer.

Accident At Work Claims – What Should I Do Next?

Some employers may ask you to sign a compromise agreement, but don’t agree to anything before having your claim evaluated by a legal expert.

Hiring a solicitor to launch an accident at work claim does not even have to cost anything from the onset if you enter into a conditional fee agreement (commonly referred to as a ‘no win-no fee’). Under this type of arrangement, your lawyer will not charge you any fees if the case fails.

You only pay for legal services as a percentage of the final settlement amount, after securing compensation. You can arrange a free no-obligation call from a claims adviser, at a time to suit you, by using the form below.

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