If you suffer an injury at work, you might wonder whether you could be sacked for having an accident. If your employer were at least partially responsible for your harm, they would not have legal grounds to sack you or retaliate in any way. They would only be entitled to dismiss or discipline you if you were entirely to blame for the accident.
Examples of negligence that could lead to a valid accident claim include lack of training or protective equipment. In such cases, you would have the legal right to claim against your employer. If they sack you afterwards, it would be considered unfair dismissal, and you could take further legal action under employment law.
If you were dismissed after an accident at work or want to learn more about your legal rights, do not hesitate to get in touch by calling 0800 678 1410. You can also use our online claim form to request a call back.
Fair reasons to dismiss an employee
If you have an employee status and have worked for your employer for more than two years, you can only be dismissed from work under certain circumstances. Under section 98 of the Employment Rights Act 1998, these reasons are:
- Conduct/misconduct, meaning you have committed some form of wrongdoing. Unless it is gross misconduct, your employer should still give you a verbal and written warning before finally dismissing you;
- Capability/performance, which means you are not able to perform your job to a satisfactory standard;
- Redundancy applies when your employer needs fewer or no workers due to reasons such as closing down or having less work for employees;
- Statutory illegality or breach of a statutory restriction is not often used. For example, it would apply if your rights to work in the UK expire;
- Some other substantial reason (SOSR). This could be the expiry of a fixed-term contract or a significant conflict of interest.
If your employer wants to sack you, they must follow a formal dismissal procedure. Furthermore, they must be able to support their decision if they choose to rely on any of these reasons to prove the dismissal was fair.
What is unfair dismissal and constructive dismissal?
If your employer dismisses you for a reason other than the ones listed above or they do not follow the formal procedure, your dismissal is likely to be unfair. Examples include:
- You exposed some form of wrongdoing in the workplace (whistleblowing)
- You joined a trade union
- You were on legal maternity, paternity or adoption leave
- You requested minimum wage or statutory leave
- You acted as an employee representative or occupational pension trustee
- You made a compensation claim following a work injury
Constructive dismissal is when your employer’s behaviour or breach of contract makes working conditions intolerable, forcing you to leave your job, such as:
- They did not pay your salary or demoted you for no reason
- They changed your job duties or working conditions without agreement
- You were the victim of bullying, harassment, or discrimination
- You were overloaded with excessive or unrealistic work demands
If you believe you have a case for constructive dismissal, you should leave your job as soon as possible. Otherwise, your employer might argue that you accepted their working conditions. If any of the above happened to you, you could start a separate claim for unfair dismissal. It is essential to remember that you have three months to take legal action after being dismissed.
Employer duty of care to prevent workplace injuries
Employers have duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to prevent an accident at work. They must take all reasonable measures dictated by the legislation to protect your well-being and keep you safe from injuries, such as:
- Perform regular risk assessments to identify risks
- Take steps to reduce or eliminate any dangers
- Provide a safe and healthy working environment
- Train all staff on how to complete tasks safely
- Supply personal protective equipment (PPE) when necessary
- Keep all equipment and machinery regularly serviced and well-maintained
- Hire enough staff to reduce levels of risk
- Label and contain all hazardous substances correctly
- Record all workplace accidents and report them to the Health and Safety Executive when required
A breach of any of these duties would entitle you to claim for an accident at work. It is essential to remember that you cannot be sacked for having an accident that was not your fault or for making a personal injury claim for compensation afterwards.
Can I make a claim against my employer?
If you were injured at work, you could make an accident at work claim against your employer if:
- They breached their duty of care towards you through an act of negligence or wrongdoing
- Your accident occurred due to their actions
- You suffered an injury or injuries as a result within the last three years
A dismissal is automatically regarded as unfair if there have been health and safety concerns. If your claim is honest, you cannot be sacked or treated differently for seeking compensation. If this happens, you are protected by employment laws in the UK and could start a separate legal action for your dismissal.
Usually, you must have worked for your employer for at least two years to have the right to claim unfair dismissal. However, there is no qualifying period for matters related to health and safety issues.
Can I be sacked for having an accident at work and claiming?
If you suffered an injury due to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, it is your legal right to pursue a claim against your employer. They cannot legally sack you or discriminate against you in any way because of your claim.
You may be eligible to take further action under Section 94 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 if you receive any retaliation. The damages you could claim will depend on your age, how long you have worked for your employer and your weekly pay before tax and health insurance deductions. You have three months minus one day to claim after the date of your dismissal.
Was the accident your fault?
The first thing to consider if you were dismissed after an accident is whether you were in any way at fault for it. There could be three different scenarios:
- You were entirely at fault for being injured in an accident whilst at work. If the accident was caused by your own negligence, your employer could legally sack you for misconduct. It is unlikely that you could challenge their decision to take action against them.
- You were partially at fault for being involved in an accident. If both you and your employer share some responsibility and you’ve been sacked from work, you may be able to contest their decision at an employment tribunal. If you claim for personal injury under these circumstances, your compensation will be reduced to reflect your part of the blame.
- The accident wasn’t your fault but was entirely due to your employer’s negligence. In this case, your employer would have no reason to dismiss you for making a work compensation claim. If they do so, you could make a further claim for unfair dismissal.
What to do after a work accident?
If you had an accident at work and want to claim compensation for your injuries, the first thing you should do is contact a personal injury solicitor. If you are entitled to claim compensation, you will need evidence to prove liability and how the accident has affected you. To have the necessary evidence, you should do the following if an accident took place:
- Seek medical care. It would be best if you visited your GP or the hospital as soon as possible to have your injuries assessed and treated. Your medical records will be essential to prove the type and extent of the harm you suffered.
- Report the accident. Notify your employer or supervisor about the incident and make sure they register it in the accident book. A copy of the report will prove your accident’s date, time and location.
- Secure visual evidence. Take photographs or a video of the accident scene and any contributing factors, such as faulty equipment or spillages, before anything is moved or repaired. It would also help to take photos of visible injuries and your recovery process.
- Gather witness details. If someone else saw your accident, ask for their contact details. If there are liability disputes, your solicitor will contact them for a statement to support your claim.
- Ask for CCTV footage. Many workplaces have security cameras. If your accident was captured on CCTV, you have the right to request a copy of the footage to support your case.
- Take notes. Write down everything you remember about the accident. Keep a journal of how your injuries have affected you and any events you had to miss because of them.
- Keep financial documents. Save all the receipts, invoices and other documents related to your financial losses and out-of-pocket expenses. If you make a successful injury at work claim, you can recover all your losses.
Types of accidents in the workplace
Many accidents at work could entitle you to make a claim, including:
- Slips, trips and falls. These are among the most common workplace accidents and can occur in any setting. They often result from wet floors, cluttered walkways, or uneven surfaces.
- Fall from heights. Workers who perform tasks on ladders, scaffolding, roofs, or elevated platforms are at risk of falling. This can result in serious injuries.
- Falling objects. Employees can be struck by items falling from shelves, equipment, or structures, which can cause injuries.
- Machinery accidents. Accidents involving machinery and equipment are common in industrial and manufacturing settings.
- Electrical accidents. These may occur when working with live wires, faulty equipment, or in environments with a risk of electrical shock.
- Repetitive strain injuries. Prolonged repetitive tasks can result in injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis.
- Vehicle accidents. Workers who operate vehicles as part of their job, such as delivery drivers, are at risk of road traffic accidents.
- Violence and assault. Some professions are at risk of workplace violence and assaults from patients, clients, or the public.
- Exposure to hazardous substances. Workers may be exposed to toxic fumes, gases, or harmful substances that can lead to health issues.
If you want to claim accident at work compensation, do not hesitate to contact a personal injury solicitor by calling free on 0800 678 1410.
Common injuries following an accident at work
Some of the most common injuries suffered due to an accident at work include:
- Cuts and lacerations can result from contact with sharp objects, tools, or machinery;
- Bruises and contusions caused by blunt force trauma;
- Fractures due to falls, heavy object impacts, and accidents involving machinery;
- Sprains and strains of ligaments, tendons, and muscles often occur due to sudden movements or falls;
- Burns can result from exposure to flames, hot surfaces, chemicals, or electrical sources;
- Back and spine injuries, such as herniated discs, can be due to lifting, falling, or accidents involving heavy machinery;
- Head injuries from falls, being struck by objects, or vehicle accidents, including traumatic brain injuries;
- Respiratory problems due to exposure to hazardous substances or inhalation of harmful particles;
- Eye injuries caused by foreign objects, chemicals, or impact trauma;
- Amputations due to accidents involving heavy machinery or industrial equipment;
- Repetitive strain injuries can result from repetitive movements;
- Hearing loss caused by prolonged exposure to loud noises in industrial settings;
- Psychological injuries such as anxiety and PTSD can be due to the emotional trauma of having a workplace accident.
How long do you have to start a personal injury claim against your employer?
The time limit to start legal proceedings will depend upon the type of claim you want to make:
The time limit is typically three years if you want to make a personal injury claim. This will either begin from the date of your workplace accident or the date of your injury or illness diagnosis. There are some exceptions that could apply as follows:
- If you were under 18 at the time of your accident, the three-year countdown only begins on your 18th birthday. Afterwards, you have until the day before your 21st birthday to start a claim.
- The time limit is suspended if you lack the mental capacity to claim due to a brain injury, PTSD or another condition. In this case, a litigation friend could claim on your behalf anytime.
If you were sacked for having an accident at work and want to claim for unfair dismissal, the time limit is three months after the date you were fired.
Regardless of what time limit may apply to your case, the sooner you seek legal advice, the better. That will give your solicitor enough time to build a solid claim to secure compensation on your behalf.
How much compensation could I receive for a workplace accident?
If you suffered an accident at work, the compensation you may be entitled to will be calculated based on two areas of losses:
General damages cover the pain, suffering and loss of amenity caused by the injury. It could include losses like physical pain, mental distress and reduced quality of life.
Special damages cover the financial losses and out-of-pocket expenses related to your accident, such as:
- Loss of earnings and earning capacity
- Private medical care and physical therapy
- Medical equipment like mobility or hearing aids
- Adaptations to your home or vehicle
- Costs of care and assistance during recovery
The compensation for general damages will depend on the type and severity of your injuries. You can refer to our compensation calculator to learn more about how much you could receive based on the guidelines from the Judicial College.
Do solicitors offer a No Win No Fee service?
If you have been dismissed after an accident at work and want to claim compensation for your injuries, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. The personal injury lawyers we partner with work on a no win no fee agreement, meaning you will not have to pay them anything upfront. Your solicitor will only get a success fee of up to 25% if they win your claim, so there is no financial risk to you.
If you lose the case, you do not have to worry about legal expenses either. The After the Event (ATE) insurance policy in your agreement will cover all your costs and disbursements, including the defendant’s, so you will never be out of pocket. With no win no fee, you only pay anything if and after you receive compensation.
For a free consultation with a legal adviser, call 0800 678 1410 today or use our online claim form to request a call back. They can let you know if you are eligible for a no win no fee service and answer all your questions about the claims process. This includes answers to questions such as ‘can I be sacked for having an accident at work?’.