Workplace accidents are all too common in the UK. Recent statistics published by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that 693,000 workers sustained an injury at work during the 2019/2020 period. Surprisingly, however, only 65,427 of these injuries were reported to the appropriate authorities.
The most cited reason for the unwillingness of workers to officially report their injuries, is because they are afraid they might lose their job if they do. Sadly, this fear is not completely unfounded as there have been reports of employees getting fired after an accident in their workplace.
Thankfully, however, there is legal protection on the side of employees who suffer such unfair treatment. If you were dismissed after an accident at work, this contravenes the law and, if proven, victims are entitled to seek compensation.
In fact, you may be entitled to make a claim on two grounds, firstly for the workplace injury and secondly for the unfair dismissal.
So, if you were unlawfully dismissed after an accident at work, this guide aims to provide the key details you need (in an easy to digest format) to make a claim for compensation.
1 Is My Employer Liable For My Injury?
According to the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, it is mandatory for employers to ensure their workers operate in a safe environment. This regulation obliges employers to do the following:
- Ensure that workers are adequately trained to carry out their job without any risk of injury.
- Ensure that workers are provided with safety gear to enable them to undertake their tasks safely.
- Institute safety measures to make ensure their workers are safe from workplace hazards
- Carry out regular risk assessments to ensure that both the procedures and equipment used in the workplace are safe and up to date.
If your employer failed to comply with any of the regulations above, and this led to your injury, you have the right to seek compensation.
2 What Are Common Accidents That Happen In The Workplace?
Common accidents particular to the workplace include the following:
- Exposure to high levels of noise
- Muscle strains
- Being hit by falling objects
- Cuts and lacerations
- Toxic fume inhalation
- Falls, trips, and slips
- Deafness or damage to hearing claims
- Crashes and collisions
- Machine entanglement
- Fights and brawls
- Falling from heights
- Repetitive strain injury (RS1)
- Injuries from overexertion
3 What Could I Claim For In A Workplace Accident?
If you are confused about what to claim for, here are the most common elements to guide you:
1) Physical Injuries
The injuries sustained because of the accident are the most obvious thing people claim compensation for, simply because they are the most apparent.
However, less obvious aspects can also be claimed for, as explained below.
2) Psychological Injuries
Accidents are often traumatising and can leave a lasting impact on victims. If you have had to seek therapy to deal with what happened to you, you can claim for psychological trauma.
3) Loss Of Income
You can also claim for any financial costs that the accident has caused you. This could be prescription costs, travel expenses to and from the hospital, and loss of revenue due to being absent from work. You may also be able to claim for loss of future earnings too, dependent on your individual circumstances.
To make it easier to receive compensation for loss of earnings, it is important that you have evidence to back-up your claim.
4 What Should I Do To File For Compensation For A Workplace Accident?
To ensure that your claim is successful, there are a number of actions you should take and they are as follows:
1 Make A Formal Report Of The Accident
Before you take any action, do ensure that your accident has been formally lodged in your employer’s accident report book. This piece of evidence is an important element of your case. If you were prevented from doing this by your employer, write down exactly what happened.
In addition, write down your own personal record of the accident as it will be required in your claim.
Your record should contain details of how the accident occurred and the injuries you sustained from it. It is important you do this the first chance you get, postponing it until much later could mean you have forgotten important details.
2 Take Pictures And Videos
Pictures and videos are quite weighty in cases like this because they show undeniable proof that the accident actually happened.
So, take photos and videos of your injuries and the place where the accident happened. If you are unable to do this because of the severity of your injury, you can ask a co-worker to help you.
3 Get Eyewitness Accounts
If there were other employees at the scene of the accident, ask them for a first-hand account of how it happened. The law looks favourably on eyewitness statements, so treat this step as important.
4 Consult Your GP
You will need to get treatment for your injury, no matter how little it may seem. Your GP will look at your injury and ensure that there is no risk of further debilitation in the future.
In addition, the medical records from this consultation will ultimately determine the amount of compensation you will receive.
During the calculation of your compensation, there will be a need to reimburse you for all expenses you incurred because of the accident. This is when your record of all injury-related expenses will come into play.
6 Get In Touch With A Legal Professional
Finally, we suggest you contact a claims advisor or solicitor for the next phase of your journey. They will look at your case, examine the evidence, and tell you what the probable outcome may be.
Also, the skills of your legal team will determine whether you will be awarded the maximum compensation amount or not. Therefore, ensure your chosen solicitor is experiences and knowledgeable in such claims.
5 How Much Compensation Should I Expect Following A Workplace Accident?
Differing workplace environments, the injuries sustained, and various other factors determine the amount a claimant will be awarded in a successful compensation case.
Therefore, knowing an exact amount you will receive is not possible without the individual details, so this is something your legal team should be able to advise on once they review your case. Compensation can range from a few hundred pounds to hundreds of thousands
6 How Long Will My Claim Take?
A straightforward workplace accident claim can take several months to be concluded. But this time can be a lot longer if your employer refuses to admit liability. A lot depends on the evidence you have and the experience of your legal team.
7 Is There A Time Limit For Making A Claim For A Workplace Accident?
As with many claims, there is a time limit of 3 years from the date the accident happened, to file for this type of personal injury compensation. However, there are some special circumstances where this time limit can be extended.
It is important to note though, that a claim for unfair dismissal needs to be made much quicker, within 3 months less one day from being sacked.
If this shorter time period has already elapsed, don’t let it put you off seeking reparation for the workplace accident etc. As there is an element within the damages paid that includes current and future loss of earnings, so you may still be able to seek financial compensation for losing your job.
8 The Accident Was Partly My Fault – Could I Still Receive Compensation?
Unfortunately, if you caused the accident, you are unlikely to get any compensation. But, if you were only partially responsible for the accident, your claim may still be successful.
However, the compensation pay-out will be determined by the role you played in the accident. So, if your responsibility in the accident is deemed to be 50 percent, expect your settlement to be halved.
9 Who Will Pay For My Compensation?
The law makes it compulsory for employers in the UK to have business indemnity insurance before they can operate. It is from this insurance that your compensation will be paid.
I was an agency worker at the time of the accident – can I still make a claim for compensation?
The law makes no distinction between agency workers, contract workers or fulltime workers. Your right as an agency worker is fully protected by the UK’s health and safety laws. Therefore, you are still eligible to make a claim for compensation if you have a valid case.
Dismissed After an Accident At Work: Conclusion
Your employer has no right to dismiss you from work after an accident. But if this has hapened to you, it is now your turn to seek compensation for the pain, suffering, and financial loss the incident caused you.
Obtaining legal advice as soon as possible in such matters is vitally important, to ensure you have the best outcome. As mentioned earlier, if you have subsequently been dismissed after an accident at work or because you brought forward a claim in this regard, you may also be eligible to seek compensation on the grounds of unfair dismissal.
An employer cannot legally sack an employee solely for this reason our guide on unfair dismissal explains more. You can also get free advice from an experience claims advisor here.
Not only could this help to get you back into work and financially compensate you for your losses, it may just prevent your employer from treating another employee the same way in the future.