If you are self-employed and have been injured while carrying out your duties, you might wonder what your rights are. Although you are not entitled to some of the benefits offered by employment law, such as sick pay, you may still be eligible to pursue an injury claim against the company you work for.
Employers have a legal duty to protect the health and safety of all workers, even if they are self-employed. If they have breached their duty of care towards you, this could lead to a successful case for compensation. Examples of negligence include inadequate training, poorly maintained premises, a lack of protective equipment and faulty machinery.
What does it mean to be self-employed?
According to the definition from the UK government, a person is self-employed if most of the following statements are true:
- They put in bids or give quotes to get work.
- They work independently without constant oversight.
- They send invoices for the services they provide.
- They are responsible for handling their National Insurance and tax payments.
- They do not receive paid leave for holidays or sick days when they’re not working.
- They function under a contract that includes terms like ‘self-employed,’ ‘consultant,’ or ‘independent contractor.’
In most cases, employment law does not cover self-employed workers, as they are their own bosses. They are not entitled to certain legal protections and benefits available to employees, such as minimum wage, sick pay, and paid holidays. However, they are still protected by legislation such as The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Thus, they could make a personal injury claim if they suffered an accident at work due to their employer’s negligence.
What rights do I have as a self-employed worker?
Even if you are self-employed, your employer must take all reasonable measures to keep a safe work environment. Under The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and other workplace legislation, they have the following duties to protect your well-being:
- Conduct regular risk assessments to identify risk;
- Establish and maintain safe systems of work;
- Provide information regarding workplace risks and the control measures in place;
- Make sure all equipment and machinery are well-maintained;
- Provide appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) where necessary;
- Ensure the PPE is in good working order and correctly used;
- Train all staff on how to carry out their job duties.
When it comes to health and safety practices, you have the same rights whether you are self-employed or an employee. That means you could claim compensation for any work injuries resulting from your employer’s negligence.
Can I make a self-employed injury claim?
If you were injured in an accident as a self-employed worker, you could start a claim for compensation. The easiest way to find out whether your case is valid is to contact a personal injury solicitor. As a general rule, a self-employed injury claim should be possible if:
- You had a self-employed accident at work
- The accident was due to your employer or another party’s negligence
- You suffered an injury or injuries as a result of this in the last three years
When you start a personal injury claim against your employer or another party, they will forward everything to their insurance company. Their insurer will only pay you injury compensation if you have clear proof their client is liable for your accident. Your solicitor will help you gather everything you need to secure the maximum level of compensation possible.
Based on your circumstances, the compensation you receive could be paid out by the insurer of any of the following:
- Your employer or the company you work for
- The business that provided you with defective equipment
- The manufacturer or distributor of the equipment
- The local council or a private business owner
You should know that you can pursue an accident at work claim even if you were partially to blame for your injuries. In this case, you may receive a reduced compensation award that reflects your part of the blame.
How do I claim for an accident at work when self employed?
If you had a self-employed accident at work and want to claim compensation, the first thing you should do is contact a personal injury lawyer. They will offer you a free case assessment to discuss your situation and determine your chances of success. If they believe you are entitled to claim compensation, they will provide a no win no fee service and guide you through the claims process.
The next step would be to gather evidence to support your claim. This should prove how your accident occurred, who was responsible for it, the injuries you sustained and how they have affected your life. In the section below, you can read more about what types of proof you could use in a self-employed injury claim.
After gathering the details of your accident and injuries, your solicitor will contact the defendant and inform them of your intentions to claim compensation. The other side will have three months to investigate your case and admit or deny liability. If they accept responsibility, you can begin to negotiate a settlement.
Your solicitor will issue court proceedings if the defendant denies liability or you cannot agree on a compensation award. Negotiations will continue until the trial date, and more than 95% of all claims are resolved without a trial. If you cannot settle, you will argue your case in court, and a judge will decide the outcome based on the available evidence.
What evidence do I need to support my accident claim?
If you want to make a self-employed accident claim, you will need different types of proof to support your case. There are several steps you should take to secure everything you need:
- Seek medical attention. If you suffered an injury, seeking medical care should be your priority. Visit your GP, a minor injuries unit, or the A&E to have your injuries assessed and treated. That will provide evidence of the type and extent of your injuries and the treatments you received. Your solicitor may also arrange a free independent exam with a specialist. They will assess the long-term effects of your injuries and your future care needs.
- Report the accident. If your accident happened on the company’s premises or while working on a customer’s premises, you should inform the responsible party as soon as you can. Make sure they record it in the accident book and ask for a signed copy of the report.
- Take photographs. Take photos or videos of the accident scene, your injuries, and any contributing factors before anything is moved or replaced. Visual evidence can be essential to prove how your accident occurred and the damage it caused you.
- Get witness details. Get the names and contact details of any witnesses to your accident, whether co-workers or bystanders. Your solicitor might contact them later if there are liability disputes to support your version of the events.
- Secure CCTV recordings. If your accident was caught on security cameras, you have the right to request a copy of the footage. Do this as soon as possible, as these recordings are usually stored for a month at maximum.
- Record what happened. Keep a diary of how the accident affected your life. This could include any out-of-pocket expenses related to your injuries, missed work days and any events you could not attend due to your accident.
Examples of self-employed accidents at work
Many self-employed workers suffer various accidents at work. Some of the most common jobs and industries that use many self-employed people include
- Delivery drivers
- Construction workers
- Sales reps
- Healthcare providers
Different scenarios could lead to a self-employed accident claim, including:
- Slips, trips and falls due to spillages, uneven floors or objects left in walkways
- Falls from heights due to faulty ladders and lack of safety measures
- Electrical shocks caused by faulty wiring or lack of protective equipment
- Injuries caused by exposure to toxic chemicals
- Machinery and equipment accidents due to inadequate maintenance or lack of training
- Road traffic accidents can affect couriers and delivery drivers
- Manual handling accidents caused by unsafe work practices
These are just a few examples of accidents that may entitle you to pursue a claim for compensation. If you believe you’ve been injured at work due to your employer’s negligence, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible.
Common injuries suffered by self-employed workers
Self-employed workers, like any other workers, can be susceptible to a range of injuries and accidents in various industries, such as:
- Musculoskeletal injuries can result from overexertion, poor ergonomics, or repetitive movements;
- Cuts and lacerations from falls, tools and equipment;
- Head injuries often occur in falls, vehicle accidents, or incidents involving falling objects and can range from mild concussions to severe brain trauma;
- Back injuries can be particularly debilitating and may include sprains, strains, herniated discs, or more severe issues like spinal cord injuries;
- Burns due to contact with hot surfaces, flames, or chemicals;
- Sprains and strains can be caused by various workplace activities, especially those that involve lifting, repetitive movements, or sudden force;
- Respiratory issues like allergies, asthma, or even long-term lung diseases can affect workers exposed to airborne particles, hazardous substances, or fumes;
- Eye injuries from debris, splashes, or harmful substances;
- Occupational diseases like asbestosis and mesothelioma;
- Crush injuries due to accidents involving heavy machinery, equipment, or vehicles;
- Stress and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression;
- Noise-induced hearing loss may affect individuals in industries with high noise levels, like construction or manufacturing;
- Fractures, or broken bones, can result from falls, heavy object impacts, or other accidents at work.
If you suffered any of these or other injuries at work because of your employer’s negligence, you may be able to claim compensation. The value of your settlement will depend on the type and severity of your injuries and their long-term effects.
Frequently asked questions:
Below, we have answered the most common questions related to self-employed accident claims. If you have further inquiries, please do not hesitate to call 0800 678 1410 or request a call back for free legal advice.
What is the time limit to start a compensation claim?
If you were injured at work, you have three years to claim compensation under the Limitation Act 1980. This time limit starts from the accident date or when you became aware of your injuries. If the claim limitation date passes, your case becomes statute-barred and is no longer valid.
The time limit can differ under some circumstances:
- If someone under 18 suffers an injury at work, the time limit is paused until their 18th birthday. Afterwards, they have three years to claim.
- If the claimant lacks mental capacity, the three-year time limit is suspended, and a litigation friend could make a claim for them at any time. That could be due to a brain injury or a condition such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
- If you lose a loved one following an accident at work, you have three years to claim from the date of death.
- If you were injured abroad, the time limit to begin a claim could vary from country to country.
How much compensation could I receive in an accident at work claim?
The amount of compensation you could receive in a self-employed accident claim depends on your circumstances. If your case is successful, your award will cover two types of damages:
- General damages cover the physical injury and how it has affected your life. This includes pain and suffering, emotional distress, reduced quality of life, inability to pursue a hobby and other subjective losses.
- Special damages cover the financial losses and expenses caused by the accident. This could include private treatments, loss of earnings from being unable to work, care costs and travel expenses.
The compensation for special damages is based on evidence such as receipts and invoices. The award for general damages depends on the type and severity of your injuries and is more challenging to calculate. You can refer to our compensation calculator to get an idea of how much you could be eligible to claim.
Do personal injury solicitors offer a no win no fee service?
If you have grounds to claim for a self-employed accident at work, the personal injury lawyers we work with will offer you a no win no fee service. Under this agreement, you will not have to pay anything upfront to your solicitor. Moreover, you only pay them if your claim is successful. In this case, they receive a success fee of up to 25% of your settlement.
If you claim on a no win no fee basis, your solicitor will also take out After the Event (ATE) insurance for you. This type of insurance will cover all your legal expenses if you lose the claim, including the defendant's solicitor and legal fees.
To find out if you are able to make a self-employed accident at work claim, call 0800 678 1410 or use our online form to get in touch with an experienced solicitor. They will offer you a free case assessment and guide you through the claims process.