Workplace accidents can occur in all industries. So whether you work in retail, public services, armed forces, finance or construction, there is always the potential that you could suffer an injury or illness due to an accident at work.
Sustaining any type of injury, especially from an accident at work, can have a significant impact on your physical and mental well-being. You might be unable to work, take your kids to school or carry out other daily activities while you recover from your injuries. All of which can cause financial losses, stress and disruption to your life.
If you have suffered an injury from a work accident and you weren’t at fault, you may be entitled to make a claim for compensation under personal injury law.
By choosing an experienced solicitor, you can rest assured that they will work hard to ensure you receive maximum compensation in the shortest possible timeframe.
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We fully understand that it can be daunting to make a personal injury claim against your employer. You are likely to have concerns about the possible impact that this might have on your future working relationship. However, it is vital to remember that it is your legal right to be compensated for injuries and losses that weren’t your fault and that your employer is legally required to be insured for such occurrences.
The solicitors we work in partnership with are highly experienced in processing claims professionally and proactively. Working on a 100% no win no fee basis, your solicitor will strive to secure you the highest compensation award whilst maintaining clear communication from start to finish.
Making a claim can not only help to compensate you for your losses and the pain suffered from your injury, but it can also help to minimise the chance of others falling victim to the same situation. This is because an accident claim will often encourage an employer to take a closer look at the working environment or practices and rectify the shortcomings which caused your injury or illness to occur. After all, most employers will try hard to provide a safe place of work and won’t want their employees to be injured.
Legislation Relevant to Workplace Accidents
Workers rights and health and safety are heavily legislated areas of law. Many pieces of legislation are in place to reduce the risk of workplace accidents and aim to protect workers. Some laws are very specific to certain risks or industries, whereas others are much wider in their reach.
If an employer fails to observe their legal duty of care and an employee suffers an injury because of this, the employer can be held liable and face a subsequent personal injury claim being made against them.
Some of the current legislation that aims to protect employees from work accidents by regulating safe working practices include:
- Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
- Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992
- Work at Height Regulations 2005
- Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
- Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
- Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005
- Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992
Common Accidents at Work
There are a huge variety of injuries that are sustained in the workplace each year, from all types of industries. Injury solicitors have experience in processing claims for people who have suffered injuries and illnesses in many different circumstances.
Some of the most common work-related accidents that result in claims for compensation include:
- Falls, slips and trips – often over obstructions, loose wiring, spillages or poorly fitted floor coverings
- Back injuries sustained through heavy lifting and manual duties (the HSE reports that in 2016/2017 there were 0.5 million work-related musculoskeletal disorders reported)
- Falls from heights, particularly by those who work up ladders and with scaffolding
- Vehicle accidents, most often involving forklift trucks, agricultural vehicles and HGVs
- Injuries caused by dangerous machinery or tools
- Accidents which are the result of improper training of staff
- Repetitive strain injuries and Vibration White Finger injuries from the repeated use of vibrating tools
- Failure to provide adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Hearing loss and damage from excessive noise in the workplace
Common Workplace Injuries Based on Industries
As highlighted above, countless different workplace accidents can lead to injuries of varying severity. Unfortunately, some of the most common claims that solicitors deal with are for accidents and injuries that we see happen again and again in specific industries, such as:
Construction Work Accidents
The construction industry is renowned for being high risk because of the use of heavy machinery, vehicles and labour intensive nature of the work. For this reason, there are many specific regulations put in place by the government to help ensure that the construction sector is as safe as possible. But even with such health and safety rules and regulations in place, construction and building site workers are still particularly vulnerable to injury.
Some of the most common construction work accidents include:
- Back injuries and joint disorders from manual handling
- Falls from heights, particularly those working with scaffolding and ladders
- Improper supply or use of PPE such as safety boots, helmets, goggles, gloves and safety harnesses
- Inadequate maintenance of machinery and equipment
- Exposure to unsafe substances or continued exposure to building byproducts such as dust
- Vehicle injuries such as being hit by a forklift truck or digger
All construction industry employers have a legal responsibility to maintain a safe working environment. Through regular risk assessments, employers should remove or minimise dangers that pose a risk to their staff. If an employer does not observe this duty of care, they can be considered liable for any accidents or injuries that subsequently occur at work.
Factory and Warehouse Accidents
Employees who work in a factory or warehouse will be aware of the vast number of risks that they face on a daily basis. With heavy machinery, multiple vehicles, a fast pace and often the need to work at heights, factory and warehouse workers have numerous dangers to contend with.
Some of the most common factory accidents that injury solicitors have processed claims for include:
- Slips, trips and falls – often on wet floors and because of obstructions or poorly maintained flooring
- Falls from heights
- Machinery malfunctions
- Vehicle accidents – particularly with forklift trucks
- Injuries caused by improper manual handling
- Being struck by falling items from shelving
- Manual handling injuries from heavy or repetitive lifting
The types of injuries that occur in factory and warehouse accidents range from minor through to very serious and sometimes, even fatal. Accidents in this sector can have devastating impacts on a person’s ability to work, earn and live a full life.
Accidents in the Military and Armed Forces
There are naturally going to be inherent dangers that members of the armed forces face. But this does not mean that those working for the military are denied the right to a safe working environment. Nor does it preclude them from the possibility of claiming compensation following an accident that has resulted from negligence.
If any member of the armed forces has suffered an injury because they were not properly trained, did not receive the right protective equipment, fell victim to faulty machinery or was involved in a military vehicle accident, they may be entitled to make a claim.
Accidents on Industrial Sites
Industrial sites pose a variety of risks to workers, especially if their employer does not observe the appropriate health and safety regulations. The most common causes of industrial site accidents that solicitors deal with are in relation to faulty machines, falls from heights, vehicle accidents and being hit by falling objects.
As well as these types of accidents, claims can also be made for illness and injury caused by harmful substance exposure, hearing loss, chemical burns and vibration injuries.
Offices may seem like one of the safest environments to work in, but they are certainly not exempt when it comes to workplace accidents. Injuries sustained in offices can range from minor injuries to very serious, life-changing issues.
The most common accidents that occur within offices include:
- Slips, falls and trips over obstructions and wet floors
- Poorly maintained electrical equipment which leads to shocks and burns
- Repetitive Strain Injury from typing and other repetitive tasks
- Eye strain injuries from poor workstation design
- Back injuries from improper workstation setups and even from manual handling when the employee lifts boxes of supplies, water-cooler tanks, etc.
An office may be a less risky environment than more industrial settings, but office employers have the same legal duty to provide a safe working environment for their staff.
If your employer has failed in their duty of care to provide a safe setting, train you properly or maintain equipment and you have suffered an injury or illness as a result, you may be entitled to make a claim for compensation.
Agricultural Work Accidents
The safety of agricultural working environments is one of the most temperamental, with accidents often being very serious, and even fatal. All farms and agricultural businesses have a duty of care to protect their workers from unnecessary risks, and they are legally obliged to carry out risk assessments and observe strict health and safety regulations. Still, we do see common injuries sustained in agricultural settings, which includes:
- Back injuries, sprains and joint damage from manual work and heavy lifting
- Injuries caused by faulty or inadequately serviced machinery such as tractors and cherry pickers
- Farmer’s lung, which is an illness caused by the continual breathing in of dust from old crops and presents allergic reaction symptoms
- Asbestos exposure illnesses from old farm buildings and demolition work
- Slips and trips from untidy workspaces
- Falls from heights when working on ladders
- Injuries suffered when working with farm animals
Am I eligible to make a work accident claim?
To be eligible to make a work accident claim, you must be able to satisfy certain criteria, which includes the following:
- Your accident must have occurred within the last three years. Unless your symptoms were not recognised until a later date, such as in the case of exposure to asbestos. In which case, the three years may start from the time that you became aware of your injuries or illness.
- It must be possible for your solicitor to demonstrate that the liability for your accident was with your employer. This means that it must be proven that your employer was to blame for your injury.
- Of course, to make a personal injury claim you must have suffered some form of injury. You can’t make a claim for a lucky escape or for something that could have happened.
Every employer, no matter which industry they work in, has a legal duty to ensure that they provide a safe working environment for their workers.
Part of their legal obligation is to minimise hazards in the workplace and to carry out regular and thorough risk assessments. The requirements of employers are set out by the Health and Safety Executive, and these regulations are specifically created to minimise the potential for workplace accidents.
If your employer fails to meet these requirements and you have suffered an injury as a result of their negligence, you should be eligible to make a compensation claim against them.
Am I eligible to make a claim if I am self-employed?
If you are self-employed or are not sure about your employment status, you may still be eligible to make a claim following a workplace accident. A solicitor can help you assess the cause and liability of your accident to determine whether you are entitled to pursue compensation for any injuries that you sustained.
Self-employed people are usually responsible for ensuring that their own working environment, machinery and practices are safe. Because of this, many self-employed people believe that they are not entitled to make a claim if they have an accident. This is not always the case, as often, self-employed people are contracted to work for other companies.
In these situations, it would be the responsibility of the company that the self-employed person is working for to provide a safe working environment. This means that if you are self-employed and have been injured whilst working for another company, you may still have a valid claim for personal injury.
Is there a time limit for making an accident at work claim?
There is a normal time limit for initiating a work accident claim of three years from the date of the accident. Once this three year period has lapsed, you would lose your eligibility to claim. The legal term for this is ‘statute barred’, and this simply means that your claim will not be processed if more than three years have passed since you sustained your injury.
However, there is an exemption to this rule in some situations. If you can prove that the symptoms of your injury or illness only became apparent after the accident, the three year time limit may begin from the date that it is deemed reasonable for you to have been aware of your injury.
For example, if you have suffered injuries or illnesses related to exposure to hazardous substances, the symptoms may not become apparent until several years after the exposure. In these situations, the time limit for beginning a claim would start from the ‘date of knowledge’, which is the date at which you can reasonably be expected to have recognised the symptoms. In most circumstances, the date of knowledge is the date of being diagnosed with the illness or injury.
There is another exception which can apply to young workers. If you are under the age of 18 and have an accident at work, your 3 year time limit doesn’t start until the day you turn 18. So if you had an accident when you were 16 years old, you would have until your 21st birthday to make your personal injury claim.
How do I make an accident claim against my employer?
To make a successful compensation claim against your employer following an accident at work, you will need to follow a number of steps. It is advised to begin the claims process as soon as possible to ensure that the evidence you need to support you claim is readily available and that you meet the time limits discussed above.
The process for making an accident at work claim will require completion of the following steps:
- Ensure that you receive medical attention for your injuries as soon as possible. Receiving medical attention will help to ensure that you recover as quickly as possible and will also help to build the evidence against those responsible. If you do not receive a medical assessment, it is unlikely that you will be able to make a successful claim for compensation.
- Report the accident and your injuries to your employer. Accidents in the workplace must always be reported to your employer to ensure that the event is recorded and that the risk is minimised or removed for others. Your employer should have an accident book, and so the details of your incident should be included in this record. Your employer should note down when the accident occurred, how it happened, where and details about the injuries you sustained.
- The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) should be notified of your accident depending upon the circumstances. If your injuries are severe or if there is a risk of the accident happening again, it is imperative that the HSE are informed.
- Gather evidence to support your claim. Ideally, take photographs of the scene of the accident, the cause of your injuries, the damage caused and close up images of any relevant faults in machinery. If your employer disputes the allegation, photographic evidence can be invaluable in backing up your version of events.
- Take witness details and statements. If anybody witnessed your accident or the immediate scene following the incident, make a note of their contact details. Your solicitor will aim to contact any witnesses to take a statement of what they saw, and these accounts can strengthen your claim significantly.
If you were not able to take photographs or record witness details straight after your accident, you might still be able to claim against your employer. Such evidence is not a legal requirement and simply serves to support your claim. Your solicitor will endeavour to build a case around whatever information you can provide.
How much compensation will I receive for a successful claim?
The amount of compensation that is awarded to you will greatly depend upon your personal case. An experienced solicitor will always strive to secure for you the highest award possible. To do this, they will need to demonstrate the level of your suffering and the extent of the impact that your workplace injury has had on your life. The greater your suffering and losses, the higher the compensation amount will be.
A solicitor will help you to manage your expectations from the outset of your claim by giving you a realistic estimate of the amount you could expect to receive. When doing this, the solicitor will consider the following points:
- The severity of your injury
- How long the symptoms of your injury have lasted for and how long they are expected to last
- Whether there are any long-term effects of the injury or whether you will suffer from permanent symptoms.
- The impact on your earning potential, both past and future
- Any costs that you have incurred because of the accident such as medical treatment and travel expenses
- How your injury has impacted on your personal life. For example, if your injury has prevented you from enjoying a full social life or doing things with your family.
- Whether your future earning potential has been effected or whether your injury will impede your career progression
Your solicitor will consider your past and current pain and losses as well as the expected future impact. This means that your compensation award should reflect the extent that the accident has affected you to date, as well as compensate you for likely ongoing consequences.
The amount of compensation that should be awarded in each case is guided by the Judicial Studies Board (JSB). The JSB issue guidelines that advise the amount of compensation that should be issued for various injuries to different parts of the body. The JSB sets out the minimum and maximum compensation amounts that are advised for each type of injury. Solicitors and courts use these recommendations when negotiating appropriate settlement amounts for successful injury claims.
Can I claim if a relative died as the result of an accident in the workplace?
If you have lost a loved one through a fatal workplace accident, you may be able to claim compensation as long as you can prove that you were a dependant of the victim.
The HSE reports that in 2016/2017, there were 137 fatal injuries to workers. What is more, the HSE highlights that there are an estimated 13,000 deaths per year that occur because of past work accidents and risks, with a predominant cause being exposure to substances such as asbestos and chemicals.
To make a claim following a work-related fatality, you must be a dependant. A dependant can be any person who has one of the following relationships with the person that has died:
- Spouse or ex-spouse (husband, wife or civil partner)
- Cohabiting partner of at least 2 years
A fatal accident in the workplace will be processed in the same way as other personal injury claims. This means that your solicitor will need to gather evidence and build a case to prove that your loved one died as a result of the negligent action or inaction of their employer.
If solicitors can demonstrate that your loved one died because of the fault of the employer and that you are a dependant of the deceased, you should be able to make a claim for compensation.
The amount of compensation that you will be awarded will depend on a number of factors, including:
- The injuries, pain and loss suffered by the deceased because of the accident
- The financial loss to dependants
- Funeral costs
- Probate costs
- Any related losses, such as emotional distress, that the family have suffered because of the death.
How long will it take to process my accident at work compensation claim?
The amount of time that it takes to complete your compensation claim will depend upon the particulars of your case. Factors such as what happened, the extent of your suffering and who is responsible will impact upon the length of time it takes to reach a final settlement.
For cases where liability is accepted straight away by the employer and there is no need for further medical examinations or ongoing observations, the claim can be settled fairly quickly. For straightforward claims such as this, the claimant can usually expect a final offer within two months of initiating their claim.
However, for more complex cases, the claim process can last much longer. If the employer does not accept liability or if the injuries sustained are ongoing or need additional treatment, the claim is likely to take longer to conclude.
For the most complex cases, particularly those where liability is disputed, a court hearing may be required to determine who was responsible for the accident. A court hearing will add further time to proceedings but will help to finalise liability and secure a conclusion as soon as possible.
It may be possible to arrange an interim compensation payment if you are not able to work because of your injuries and your claim will not be finalised quickly. The interim payment can help cover the cost of treatment and assist with loss of income and transport expenses. The interim payment is effectively an advanced part payment of your compensation award. The amount that is paid in advance will later be deducted from your final settlement award.
Can my employer sack me if I make a claim against them?
Your employer would be acting unlawfully if they chose to sack you because you pursued a claim against them following an accident at work. If your employer dismisses you for this reason, it would be classed as unfair dismissal and you would be entitled to take them to an employment tribunal.
The company I worked for has gone out of business, can I still claim?
If your employer has ceased trading since you had your accident, you may still be able to make a claim against them. The employers’ liability insurance that your employer held whilst they were trading would mean that a claim can be made against the policy, even if the employer no longer trades. This type of case will be more complicated and is likely to take longer, but your solicitor will be able to progress the claim and negotiate your settlement award with the employer’s previous insurer.
Will my work accident claim be successful?
To find out the likelihood of your claim being successful, contact a solicitor for a free case assessment. By listening to the details of your accident and the injury you have suffered, a personal injury solicitor will be able to guide you on the strengths of your case.
If your employer has admitted liability for the accident and your injuries, the chance of you making a successful compensation claim is likely to be very high.
If on the other hand your employer disputes liability or suggests that you were partly to blame for the accident, the case will be more complex. But don’t worry, as solicitors have a huge amount of experience handling all types of injury claims. They will thoroughly review the particulars of your case and will give an honest and professional opinion as to the most likely outcome.
Can I make a work accident claim on a no win, no fee basis?
Absolutely. At CouncilClaims.co.uk, we only work in partnership with solicitors that provide a 100% No Win No Fee service to clients.
No win no fee claims are also known as a Conditional Fee Agreement or CFA. Processing your claim on this basis will give you the confidence of knowing that you will not be out of pocket if your case is lost.
Your injury solicitor will offer to work for you on a no win, no fee arrangement if their case assessment highlights that you have valid grounds for making a claim.
If your claim is unsuccessful, you won’t pay a penny.