This guide to making a work injury compensation claim provides information about the things you need to consider, and the first steps to take, to ensure that you receive full and fair compensation.
Nobody wants to be injured at work but unfortunately workplace injuries are very common. Every year thousands of people are injured at work. The HSE reports that in 2017/2018 there over half a million people were injured at work.
If you have been injured at work, this guide will help you understand and take the necessary steps to ensure that you can be properly compensated for your injury and your financial loss.
Who can make a compensation claim for a work accident or injury?
Any worker injured at work, or in the course of carrying out their work duties, may be able to make a claim for compensation.
The right to make an accident at work claim covers all employees including temporary, casual and permanent employees and the same rights apply to both full-time and part-time workers.
It is not necessary to have a written contract of employment to make a claim.
Self-employed workers injured as a result of another person’s actions may also be able to bring a claim although different rules may apply in these circumstances.
No time off work or paid in full? Can a claim for work injury compensation still be made?
Loss of earnings if often a big factor when assessing work accident claims. Many people believe that a claim can only be made for an accident at work claim if the injury resulted in time off work or loss of earnings. This is not true. A claim can still be brought by an injured worker, even if they were able to continue working after an accident.
If you received full pay or company sick pay you may not have lost any earnings but you can still make a claim for compensation. It is important to remember that a significant part of any claim will be for the pain and suffering caused by the actual injury.
Who pays the compensation awarded for an accident at work claim?
By law every employer must have a policy of insurance known as Employers Liability Insurance. The purpose of this insurance is to pay any compensation awarded following an accident at work claim.
This means that the compensation and costs of making a claim are paid by the insurance company rather than the actual employer.
It is important to note, however, that injured worker is not automatically entitled to receive compensation. The purpose of Employers’ Liability Insurance is to ensure that there is money available to pay any compensation claim which is successfully made against the employer.
Not all injured workers receive compensation. This is because, for a claim to be successful, the injured worker must prove that the injury was caused in some way by the fault or breach of duty of the employer.
There is no automatic right to compensation after a work injury or accident
Being injured at work is not enough to trigger a right to compensation. To receive compensation, an injured worker must be able to show that the injury was caused by a breach of duty or negligence of the employer or other people at work.
A claim can be made if an employer fails to take adequate steps to protect workers’ safety.
Employer’s Breach of Duty
There are a number of ‘duties’ that an employer owes to his workers.
Examples of the main duties include:
- Providing a safe workplace
- Ensuring that all staff receive adequate training and instruction
- A duty to provide adequate protective clothing and equipment
- Assessing the risk of injury from lifting heavy weights or equipment
- A duty to maintain equipment and machinery in a safe condition
A claim could arise if a worker is injured as a result of the employer’s failure to comply with workplace duties.
There are lots of steps that an employer can, and should take, to help to keep workers safe at work. There are lots of simple ways that employers can keep workers safe including:
- taking steps to avoid workplace trip & slip accidents
- preventing workers from falling from height at work
- avoiding accidents involving machinery and equipment
- taking steps to ensure that workers are not injured when lifting at work
How do I know if my employer has allowed or caused a breach of duty?
It is not always clear who is legally responsible, or liable for an accident. You may think that you are at fault. You might think that it was ‘just an accident’ that caused your injury.
In some cases it will be very clear that an employer is at fault and therefore liable for the accident. Many more cases will be less clear.
There are many rules and regulations which an employer must comply with in order to protect the safety of workers. The rules are far too detailed to cover in this guide which is why legal advice is usually needed to establish whether an employer is likely to be held liable for an injury sustained at work.
Even in cases where a worker is partly at fault, a claim against the employer may still be possible.
We always recommend that if you have been injured at work you should take expert legal advice to establish if there has been a breach of duty. Even if it appears that you are at fault, don’t assume that no claim can be made.
Will I lose my job if I make a claim after an accident at work?
Remember: It is against the law for an employer to dismiss a worker because they make an accident at work claim.
Employees are often reluctant to make a work injury claim against their employer. This is often because they are worried that it may cause difficulties for them at work. It is important to remember that your employer is not allowed to take any action against you simply because you make a claim.
Time limits for making a work injury compensation claim
Most work injury compensation claims are subject to a strict time limit requiring court proceedings to be commenced within 3 years of the date of injury or within 3 years of the date of knowledge of the injury. This known as the Limitation Period.
It is usually obvious at the time of the accident that an injury has been sustained. In such cases the 3 year limitation period will run from the date of the accident.
For many industrial disease cases, such as cases involving exposure to harmful substances such as asbestos or noise-induced hearing loss cases, the injured worker might not know that they have suffered an injury until years after the exposure. In such cases the 3 year time period will generally run from the date of knowledge of the injury.
The rules relating to the limitation period for personal injury claims can be complex and it is therefore always better to seek early legal advice if you think that you have suffered an injury as a result of your work.
Don’t leave it too late to claim compensation following a work injury
We are often contacted by workers who have left it too late to bring their claim because they have been waiting for their medical treatment to finish or have been waiting to see if they ultimately make a full recovery.
Many people only decide to make a claim when they realise that their injury is more serious than they first thought, or they realise that they will not make a full recovery. Delaying your claim can lead to the time limit for bringing a claim being missed and could result in the loss of the right to pursue a claim.
It is always much better to start your personal injury claim sooner rather than later. Contacting a solicitor doesn’t have to be the very first thing that you do following an injury at work, but taking early advice can ensure that you do not lose your right to claim, and will also mean that all necessary steps can be taken to ensure that you are properly and fully compensated.
First Steps to Take After an Injury or Accident at Work
Medical evidence for a work accident claim
If you are injured in an accident at work you will most likely receive first aid at work. It is not always necessary to attend hospital after an accident or injury. It is usually sensible to seek some kind of medical treatment after a workplace injury.
If you don’t feel that your injury is so severe to require hospital treatment you should at least make an appointment to see your GP. Your GP will give advice about your injury and any follow-up treatment that might be required. Make sure that you tell your GP how the injury was sustained.
Take photographs of any visible injuries such as bruising.
Reporting a workplace injury or accident at work
All accidents and injuries sustained at work must be reported. This includes minor injuries. Report any workplace accident or injury to a supervisor or manager.
All employers must have a method of recording workplace injuries. This is usually an accident book. Some companies have an accident reporting helpline or online reporting system.
If the employer does not have an accident book you should still tell your employer or manager about the accident. Ask your employer to make a record of the accident and injury. Note down the date and time that you reported the injury and include the name of the person to whom the injury was reported. Consider also putting the report in a letter or email to your employer and keeping a copy for your records.
The accident record will be useful in supporting any compensation claim brought later on.
Check for CCTV
Ask your employer if there is any CCTV footage of the accident. If CCTV is available, ask your employer to show you a copy. If your employer will allow it, one way to get a quick copy of the CCTV footage is to use your mobile phone to record the CCTV footage as you view it.
You should ask your employer to retain a copy and also request a copy of the CCTV for your own records.
Record important details about the accident at work
Your solicitor needs full details about the accident.
It is important that you keep a record of important details including
- What happened? Keep a detailed record of how the accident happened.
- When did the accident happen? Record the accident date and time.
- Where did it happen? This will include addresses, street names, company details.
- How were you injured? What injuries did you sustain? What medical treatment did you require?
- Who was involved? Note the names and addresses of anyone involved in the accident.
- Are there witnesses? Make a note of the contact details for any witnesses
- Registration numbers of any vehicles involved if you were injured while driving as part of your employment
- Important dates: including the dates of any absence from work and the date of any medical treatment, x-rays or scans
Support your personal injury claim with photographs & video
Photographs and video can be very helpful to support your claim. If possible, you should try to take photographs of
- The accident location
- The cause of the accident – e.g. the spillage or defect
- Damage to any property, including photos of any damaged clothing
- Visible injuries such as bruising
- Dashcam footage can be very useful evidence in road accident cases
Keep details of any financial losses and expenses incurred as a result of a workplace injury
You must provide evidence of any financial losses claimed. Keep details of any financial loss or expense which has been incurred as a result of you being injured. This will include such things as loss of earnings, prescription and medication charges, hospital parking charges, medical treatment fees, the costs of replacing any items damaged items such as clothing or equipment, and travel expenses.
Keep receipts or other evidence for expenses incurred. You should also retain all payslips for the 3 months prior to injury as well as payslips for any period of absence and up to 3 months after your return to work.
Record travel details. You should also record details of any car journeys made in respect of your accident – for instance, trips to and from hospital or medical appointments. Keep details of dates, destinations and the miles travelled. This information can form the basis of a claim for travel expenses.
Keep a diary to support your personal injury claim
Record the impact of your injury on how your day to day activities. Include how your sleep, hobbies, work, ability to drive, ability to care for your children or others, and other everyday activities have been affected. Try to include as much detail as possible.
Include details of any care & assistance that you require – for example, if you need help from your family or friends with personal care or domestic assistance, keep details of the kind of assistance required, how many hours assistance is required, and how often you receive the assistance.
It can be hard to remember all the details later on. A record made after the accident will ensure that all relevant details are taken into account when assessing the value of your claim.
Obtain independent legal advice about making a work injury compensation claim
The simplest way to check if you are able to make a claim is to take legal advice from a specialist personal injury solicitor.
Your solicitor will advise you of any further steps you need to take and will give advice about progressing your claim.
Arrange a free, no obligation consultation to assess your work injury compensation claim
Donna Beckett is a specialist personal injury solicitor with 25 years experience of acting on behalf of injured workers. Donna is happy to discuss your potential claim by way of a free, no obligation telephone consultation. If you prefer, you can arrange a free face to face consultation to take place at our office.
We handle all types of accident at work including:
- Tripping and slipping work accidents
- Falls At Work
- Accidents caused by machinery or equipment
- Construction site accidents
- Manual handling injuries and injuries caused by lifting at work
- Accidents in offices