Work Accident Claims Advice
If you have sustained an injury in an accident at work that was not your fault, you could be eligible to make a personal injury compensation claim. Our solicitors have helped thousands of people just like you claim compensation for all types of work accidents and across all industries. So whether you work in retail, in an office environment, on a building site or work for the NHS, our solicitors are here to help.
Making a work accident claim against your employer is a big decision, and can feel daunting. But it is important to remember that the law is on your side, and if your injury was caused by your employer’s negligence, you have every right to be compensated.
And you are certainly not alone, as 621,000 people sustained an injury at work in 2015/16 according to Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics. Around 25% of these accidents resulted in the injured worker being absent from work for 7 days or more.
If you are one of the unfortunate people that have been injured in the course of your employment, and you would like to find out if you have a valid claim, contact our team of solicitors for a free consultation.
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The aim of this guide to claiming for accidents at work is to provide you with all of the information you need to determine if you may have a valid claim, as well as answering some of the key questions and concerns you may have. You can use the links below to jump directly to a particular section of the page.
- Am I eligible to make an accident at work claim?
- What legislation provides protection for workers?
- What are the time limits for making a work accident claim?
- Examples of workplace accidents that could result in a claim
- What is the procedure for making a claim against your employer?
- How much compensation can I claim for an accident at work?
- How long do work accident claims take to complete?
- Can I make a work injury claim on a No Win No Fee basis?
- Frequently asked questions about accident at work claims
- Work accident compensation case studies
Am I eligible to make an accident at work claim?
If you have suffered an injury due to an accident at work within the last three years, you could be entitled to pursue a claim for compensation.
To be eligible to make a work accident claim, it needs to be established that your employer was at fault for the accident that caused your injuries.
All employers have a responsibility to provide their employees with a safe working environment, and to minimise the risk of accidents taking place. This responsibility towards employees is known as a ‘duty of care’.
An employer’s responsibility to protect employees against workplace accidents is defined by the Health and Safety Executive as “making sure that workers are protected against anything that may cause harm, effectively controlling any risks to injury or health that could arise in the workplace.”
What legislation provides protection for workers?
There are various pieces of legislation in place that aim to provide protection to employees through the management of safer working environments. Some legislation, such as the Health and Safety at Work Act, are wide in scope and place obligations on all businesses and employers. Others target specific risks, such as working at height, manual handling and the control of noise.
Failure to adhere to relevant workplace legislation can not only put workers at risk, but it can also make the employer liable for a potential claim being made against them. If your employer does not observe the requirements of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 for example, and you are injured as a result, you would be entitled to receive accident compensation.
Below are some examples of work-related legislation that could be taken into account to assess responsibility for an injury or illness at work:
- Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974
- Work at Height Regulations 2005
- Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992
- Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992
- Working Time Regulations 1998
- Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
- Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
- Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999
- Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005
- Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005
What are the time limits for making a work accident claim?
In most cases, the time limit for making a work accident claim is three years from the date that the accident happened. If you fail to start your case before this date, you will no longer be eligible to pursue your claim. In legal terms, your claim for compensation will be ‘statute barred’, meaning it can no longer be taken to court.
There is an exception to this rule which may apply to some workplace accidents. This exception is when the injury or illness you have sustained does not become apparent until a later date. For example, if you have been exposed to hazardous materials at work, such as asbestos or dangerous chemicals, you may develop an industrial illness.
The symptoms of these type of illnesses often don’t become apparent until many years after the exposure. In these circumstances, there is still a three-year time limit, but this does not begin until what is known as the ‘date of knowledge’. In most cases, this is the date when the person is diagnosed as having the workplace illness.
Examples of workplace accidents that could result in a claim
Our network of solicitors has helped people claim personal injury compensation for a wide variety of accidents at work. Some of the most common workplace accidents include:
- tripping on obstructions such as loose wiring or damaged flooring
- injuries caused by manual handling and heavy lifting
- accidents caused by faulty or dangerous machinery and tools
- accidents involving workplace vehicles such as forklift trucks, tractors, diggers and lorries
- injuries caused by falls from height, such as scaffolding accidents and falls from ladders.
- injuries resulting from poor or inadequate training
- slipping on spillages and other wet surfaces
- repetitive strain injuries (RSI) to the wrists, elbows, neck or shoulders
- the use of tools causing vibration white finger (VWF) or hand-arm vibration syndrome
- injuries and illnesses that are caused by the use of hazardous substances
- lack of sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE)
- damage to hearing as a result of excessive noise in the workplace
According to statistics published by the Health and Safety Executive, an estimated 621,000 workers suffered an injury at work in 2015/16. Injuries caused by manual handling and lifting accounted for the bigger number at around 20% of all reported injuries. This was closely followed by slips and trips at 19% and being hit by a moving object at 10% of work-related injuries.
Whatever type of work accident you have had, our solicitors are here to provide you with the legal support you need. We can assess your case during a free assessment, so you can find out within a few minutes if you have a valid claim.
What is the procedure for making a claim against your employer?
To stand the best possible chance of building a strong case against your employer, there are several steps that you should take following your workplace accident. The sooner you can do these the better, but of course much will depend on the type and severity of the injury you have sustained.
- Seek medical attention – regardless of who was at fault, if you have suffered an injury at work, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. First and foremost, ensuring you receive the correct treatment following an accident can help to set you on the road to recovery. Should you later decide to pursue a compensation claim, your accident and injuries will be recorded on your medical record.
- Report the accident to your employer – you should always report a workplace accident to your employer, especially when it results in an injury. Your employer should have an accident book or form which should then be filled out, detailing what happened, how it happened, when and where the accident took place and a description of the injury or injuries you sustained.
- Has the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) been notified? – Depending on the type of accident, the extent of injuries and how much time you are off work for, your employer may have a duty to inform the HSE. If your situation falls into this bracket, you should make sure that the HSE has indeed been notified.
- Take photographs – photographic evidence of dangerous working environments, faulty machinery, trip hazards, etc. can prove to be vital pieces of evidence when making a claim. This is particularly true for situations where liability for the accident is disputed by your employer.
- Witness statements – if any of your colleagues, customers, clients or anybody else witnessed your accident or the immediate aftermath, you should aim to make a note of their details. By recording their contact information and a brief witness statement, your solicitor would be able to contact them to corroborate your version of events if you decide to make a claim.
I didn’t take any photographs or collect any witness statements. Does that mean I can’t make a claim?
Don’t worry, you may still be able to pursue a claim without this information. The above list is merely a guide to the type of evidence that you may be able to gather to support your claim.
How much compensation can I claim?
How much compensation will I receive for an accident at work? This is one of the most common questions that people have when it comes to workplace injuries. You might be thinking, is it worth making a claim against my employer?
Well, if you do decide to make a claim and are successful, you will be awarded compensation based on several factors. This is assessed based on your particular circumstances, so it can be difficult to put a figure on the amount you could be entitled to without conducting a full assessment of your case.
Our solicitors can advise you and provide a recommendation as to the amount of compensation you should be looking to recover during a free accident case assessment.
Personal injury compensation can be broken down into two distinct parts, which are general damages and special damages. In simple terms, general damages are based on the injury itself and are awarded for the pain and suffering inflicted.
Whereas special damages are awarded for financial losses, such as loss of earnings and medical expenses. This will take into account current losses, as well as a forecast of any future expenses and losses that you will experience as a result of your injuries.
General damages for work injuries
The award for general damages is based purely on the injury or injuries you have sustained, and will take into account the following points:
- the type and severity of injury you have sustained
- the impact this injury has on your day-to-day life
- how long it has taken, or will take you, to recover from the injuries
- are there any long-term or permanent effects, such as scarring or loss of mobility
Compensation guidelines are provided by the Judicial Studies Board (JSB) for injuries affecting all areas of the body. For each injury type, the JSB gives a minimum and maximum recommended level of compensation. These figures are used as a guideline by both injury lawyers and the courts to assess the level of compensation that the injured party should be entitled to receive.
For example, if you have sustained a fractured forearm in an accident at work, the compensation level advised by the JSB is between £5,000 to £14,600. It is important to remember that this award doesn’t take into account special damages, which are discussed below.
Special damages for worker injuries
On top of the above compensation for pain and suffering, you can also claim an additional amount for special damages. The aim of a civil claim, such as a personal injury case, is to put the claimant back as close as possible to the financial position they would be in had the incident never happened.
So with that in mind, special damages will take into account any financial losses, both past, present and future that are directly related to your accident and injury.
This includes any loss of earnings if you have had to take time off work, the cost of medical treatments such as physio or prescriptions, and other financial expenses you have incurred as a result of your work accident.
When assessing the impact of the injuries on your future, your solicitor will take into consideration your ability to work. For example:
- Will you be able to return to your previous job role?
- Will your injury affect your future job opportunities or career progression?
- Will you be able to work at all?
If your ability to earn has been affected by your accident and injuries, you should be compensated for this.
If you have suffered significant injuries which impact on mobility for example, you may require home care or adaptations being made to your home. These are additional costs which you should not be expected to pay for yourself.
So the financial cost of these requirements will be calculated by your solicitor when assessing how much compensation you should be looking to claim.
Making a claim for the death of a family member at work
Coming to terms with the loss of a family member in an accident at work is extremely difficult, and can place a huge amount of emotional and financial stress on the family. If you find yourself in this situation, our solicitors can support you every step of the way, with the aim of making the process as simple and stress-free as possible.
To claim for the loss of a loved one from a fatal work accident, you must be classed as a ‘dependant’ of the victim. A dependant can be either of the following people:
- A wife, husband or civil partner of the deceased
- A parent or child of the deceased
- An ex-wife, ex-husband or former civil partner of the deceased
- A sibling, niece, nephew, aunt, uncle or cousin of the deceased
Work accidents causing death are investigated in the same way as other accidents for the purpose of making a personal injury claim. So the solicitor will still need to prove that the accident, injuries and subsequent death was caused by the negligence of the employer.
If the employer can be held responsible and you qualify as a dependant based on your relationship to the deceased, you should be entitled to receive compensation.
As with all injury claims, there are various factors taken into account during the calculation. Some of these factors include:
- Pain and suffering inflicted upon the deceased
- The loss of income to the family
- The cost of probate
- Funeral costs
If you are the wife, husband or child under 18 years of age at the time of the person’s death, you will be eligible to claim the Statutory Bereavement Award. This award is separate to the dependency claim discussed above and is a fixed sum determined by the Government, which currently stands at £12,980.
No amount of money can compensate you for the loss of a loved one, but it can help to bring you a sense of justice and ease some of the financial burden you may be under in what is naturally going to be a tough and emotional time.
RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations) confirm that in 2015/16 there were 144 fatalities due to workplace accidents. Falls from height were the cause of most work-related deaths, accounting for 26% of fatalities. This was followed by accidents involving moving vehicles at 19% of fatal accidents, and being hit by moving objects at 10%.
How long do work accident claims take to complete?
There are no set time limits for accident claims, as each case will be based on a specific set of circumstances regarding what happened, who was at fault and the injuries that have been suffered.
If your particular case is straightforward, which would mean that your employer has accepted responsibility and your injuries do not require extensive medical examination or debate, your claim can be settled fairly quickly. This could be done in as little as two months.
If your case is more complex, in terms of liability being disputed or the extent of the injuries and amount of compensation you are seeking to claim, it will likely take longer to conclude.
In some situations, particularly where there are disputes regarding liability, your case may be taken to court. This can add a considerable amount of additional time to the proceedings.
If your injuries have made you unable to work, or if you require private medical treatment to aid your recovery, our solicitors may be able to secure for you an interim compensation payment. This is basically a part payment of compensation in advance of the final settlement being agreed.
Can I make a work injury claim on a No Win No Fee basis?
Our injury solicitors guarantee to provide a 100% no win no fee service to all clients that are eligible to move forward with a claim against their workplace.
A no win no fee agreement, with is also known as a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA), is a contract entered into between the solicitor and the client. This outlines the terms and conditions of the service being provided, and what happens whether the case is won or lost.
Frequently asked questions about accident at work claims
Anybody considering making a work injury claim is likely to have some questions and potentially some concerns about the process and possible implications. We have answered some of these frequently asked questions below, but we would advise you to discuss any concerns you have with one of our solicitors.
We provide a free case assessment service for people to find out if they have a valid claim, during which our solicitors are happy to answer any questions and provide details about the process should you decide to pursue your right to compensation.
Could I lose my job if I make a claim?
We can't promise that your employer won't dismiss you for making a claim against them. However, if you were dismissed for this reason, it wouldn't be considered as fair grounds for dismissal. This would open up your employer to an additional claim against them for unfair dismissal. For this reason, it is unlikely that your boss will fire you for wanting to pursue a work accident claim.
Can I make an accident at work claim if I am self-employed?
People who are self-employed are usually responsible for their own safety and working environment. For this reason, many people mistakenly believe that self-employed workers have nobody to claim against if they have an accident at work. But this isn't always the case, as if your accident happens while you are working for another company, they will have responsibility for providing a safe work environment. Therefore, if you have been injured due to the negligence of the company you are working for, you should still have a valid injury claim against them, even if you are self-employed.
Who pays the compensation for an accident at work?
Under the Employers' Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act, all UK employers are legally required to maintain a valid employers' liability insurance policy. This insurance protects employees, and the employer, in the event of an accident taking place. If your accident claim is successful, it is the insurance provider that pays the compensation amount awarded. If your employer does not have valid insurance, or they didn't at the time of your accident, they would be liable to cover your compensation payment. As they would be breaking the law, they would also be liable for a fine of up to £2,500 for each day they traded without the suitable insurance.
My employer has gone out of business. Can I still claim?
If the company you work for has ceased trading since the date of your accident, you may still have a valid claim for compensation. While trading, the company should have had Employers' Liability Insurance. So providing this policy was in place at the time of your accident, you would still be able to make a claim against this policy, even if your employer has since gone out of business. Your employer going out of business does make the process more complicated, and it can result in it taking significantly longer to complete your case. But this is something that our solicitors can advise you on, as they have a huge amount of experience when it comes to making workplace injury claims.
Can I make a claim without using a solicitor?
In theory, any type of personal injury claim can be made without needing to hire a solicitor. But this could have a number of potential pitfalls that you will need to think about before deciding to go down this route. Firstly, an injury lawyer will understand the rules, timeframes and processes that need to be followed. They will also be experienced in gathering evidence and building a strong case. If you choose to proceed without hiring a solicitor, you might not make your case as strong as it could be, or you might make a mistake that impacts on your ability to claim. A solicitor will also understand how to put a value on your case, which may be difficult trying to do yourself. This will ensure you receive fair compensation for the injuries you have suffered, as well as receiving damages for loss of earning, medical treatments and any other financial losses resulting from your accident.
Work accident compensation case studies
Accidents in the workplace and the injuries that can be suffered are incredibly varied, as are the compensation amounts that are awarded. To help give you an idea, here are some examples of successful work-related injury claims:
Back injury from warehouse accident wins £25,000
A warehouse worker was stationary in a picking vehicle when another truck being driven by a colleague crashed into him. The accident was caught on CCTV, providing clear evidence that his colleague was at fault. The man sustained a serious back injury that required long term chiropractic treatment and physiotherapy. He was unable to work for several months and eventually had to change jobs due to his injury. The claim was made against the employer based on them being vicariously liable for the negligent actions of the worker that caused the accident. The case was successful, and the man received a settlement of £25,000.
Woman awarded £22,000 for electric shock accident
As part of her work duties, the claimant tested railway cables. While carrying out this task a colleague switched the power on, causing the claimant to receive a 650-volt electric shock. This resulted in burns to her fingers which required a skin graft, and she also suffered from PTSD for a period after the accident. The employer accepted liability as they had failed to provide a safe system of work or fellow employees that were sufficiently competent. An agreement on damages couldn't be reached, so the case was taken to court where an amount of £22,000 in compensation was awarded to the claimant.
Man wins £250,000 for forklift truck accident
A man working for a company repairing and servicing forklift trucks suffered serious injuries when he was crushed between two trucks. He sustained multiple fractures, including his collar bones, arm, ankle, ribs and leg, requiring surgery and a 2 month stay in hospital. He was unable to continue in his previous job, as he was left with permanent difficulty with bending down and getting in and out of vehicles. Following evidence of his injuries and financial losses, the claimant was awarded £250,000 in compensation.
£13,500 awarded for machinery accident
A 55 year old sustained crush injuries to the fingers on both hands while operating a pressing machine at work. While using the machinery, he accidentally knocked the operating switch which resulted in the press crushing his fingers. Most of his injuries healed, but the top of his left ring finger had to be amputated, and he was left with a permanent tingling sensation in the finger. Solicitors acting on behalf of the worker successfully argued that the employer had been negligent by failing to guard the switch, not providing appropriate PPE and that the workstation was too small. The claim was settled out of court, with a compensation award of £13,500 being agreed.
Chronic back pain caused by lifting accident awarded £315,000
An employee suffered a back injury at work when lifting a heavy manhole cover. The pain was felt immediately, and it later developed into chronic pain syndrome. Due to his injuries, he was unable to work or perform tasks such as gardening, DIY or housework. He also required help with washing, dressing and other personal care. His employer accepted liability based on their failure to carry out risk assessments or provide assistance or equipment to perform the manual handling tasks safely. A compensation award of £315,000 was agreed based on the pain and suffering, loss of amenity, loss of earnings and future losses.