Workplace accidents happen across all industries and sectors in the UK. These can cause minor to life-changing injuries, such as lacerations, fractures, sprains and brain trauma. Common accidents at work include slips and trips, falls from heights, manual handling injuries and machinery accidents.
Employers have a duty of care to take all reasonable measures to prevent work injuries and protect your health and safety. If they have failed to do so and you’ve been injured due to their negligence, various options may be available to you, including making a compensation claim.
If you would like a free consultation with a legal adviser, please call 0800 678 1410 or use our online form to request a call back. They can answer ‘What are my rights after an accident at work?’ and any other questions you may have.
What is an employer’s duty of care?
Your employer is legally bound to try and keep you as safe as possible at work. Regardless of the nature of your job and your employment status, they must take all measures dictated by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and other relevant workplace legislation. If they fail to do so and you are injured as a result, you could be able to claim compensation.
Your employer has various duties that include the following:
- Conduct regular risk assessments to assess health and safety risks
- Provide a safe working environment that is free of hazards
- Give proper training on how to do your job
- Provide instructions regarding safe work practices
- Make sure you have adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) to do your job safely
- Allow proper rest breaks to avoid accidents caused by tiredness and overuse
- Put appropriate warning signs in areas where dangers might be present
- Make sure all equipment and machinery are well-maintained and safe for use
If you have been involved in an accident at work and want to claim compensation, an experienced solicitor can determine whether your case has merit.
Can I claim compensation for an accident at work?
If you’ve been injured in a workplace accident, you could start an accident at work claim. A free consultation with a legal adviser is the easiest way to determine if you are entitled to compensation. They will use the following checklist to test whether you have a valid case:
- Did your employer owe you a duty of care?
- Did they breach this duty by acting negligently?
- Did their negligence cause an accident to occur?
- Did you suffer injuries due to that accident?
The first point is almost always valid, as all employers owe workers a duty of care under various UK workplace legislation. If you can answer yes to all the other questions, your solicitor will help you gather evidence to start a claim and secure the compensation you deserve.
What should I do if I was injured at work?
If you’ve had an accident at work, there are several things you should do that will help you claim compensation for your injuries later:
- Report the accident to your employer, make sure they record it in the accident report book and ask for a copy of it;
- Seek medical care as soon as possible, as your medical notes will prove the type of injuries you sustained and the treatments you received;
- Take photographs of the accident scene and any visible injuries;
- Get the names and contact details of any witnesses who could later provide a statement about how the accident occurred;
- If available, secure CCTV footage of the accident;
- Write down everything you remember about how the accident happened and how it has affected your life;
- Keep all documents related to financial losses and expenses, such as receipts and invoices.
Your accident at work lawyer will review the evidence you have and help you gather anything else you may need to secure personal injury compensation.
Am I entitled to sick pay after a workplace accident?
If you were injured in an accident at work, you may need some time off to recover. During this time, you may be entitled to receive one of two types of sick pay:
Contractual sick pay. Your work contract may provide that you will receive your regular wages if you are absent during illness. Or, you may receive your salary minus the amount of statutory sick pay. This is not a legal requirement but an additional benefit some employers offer.
Statutory sick pay (SSP). This is a legal requirement for employers in the UK. The SSP rate is a set amount of £109.40 per week, paid for a maximum of 28 weeks. To be eligible for SSP, you must:
- Be classed as an employee and have started work with your employer
- Be on sick leave for at least four full days in a row
- Earn at least £123 per week, on average
If you claim against your employer, the sick pay you may receive while off work will not count against your accident at work compensation.
Do I have the right to claim Industrial Injury Disablement Benefits (IIDB)?
If you became ill or disabled due to an accident in the workplace, you may also have the right to claim an Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB). This is a weekly payment that can range from £41.52 to £207.60, based on your level of disability.
You may be entitled to his payment whether you were injured while performing your duties or during an approved training or course. The scheme also covers more than 70 diseases, including mesothelioma, deafness, asthma and emphysema.
What are my rights after an accident at work if I am self-employed?
If you are self-employed and have suffered a workplace injury due to employer negligence, you have the same rights as an employee under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. That means you could claim against your employer if you have valid proof to show they breached their duty of care towards you.
You could also apply for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you have suffered an injury that affects how much you can work. However, if you are self-employed, you will not be entitled to statutory sick pay following an accident at work.
If the injuries caused by the accident have led to a long-term disability or difficulty with daily tasks, you could also apply for a Personal Independence Payment (PIP). This is a tax-free monthly payment whose value is not affected by your income or savings. You could receive between £68.10 and £101.75 per week for daily living and between £26.90 and £71.00 for mobility issues.
It is essential to remember that making a work accident claim could affect your eligibility to get means-tested state benefits. Your solicitor will be able to advise you on your best options.
What rights do I have if I lose a loved one in a work accident?
If you lost a loved one due to an accident at work, you may have the right to claim compensation under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976. If you classify as a dependent of the deceased under this Act and they suffered a wrongful death, you could claim the following:
- The loss of income and other financial benefits expected from your loved one
- The loss of services they provided in the household, such as childcare and property maintenance
- Funeral expenses such as wreaths and embalming of the body
- A bereavement award of £15,120 for the grief and suffering caused by the loss of your loved one
You have three years to claim for a fatal accident starting from the date of death. Alternatively, the three years could begin when a post-mortem confirmed the cause of death. A personal injury lawyer can determine whether you have the right to seek compensation during a free consultation.
Can I be fired for having an accident at work?
Under section 98 of the Employment Rights Act 1998, your employer can only legally sack you under certain circumstances, such as:
- You committed some form of misconduct or wrongdoing
- You can’t perform your job duties to a satisfactory standard
- They are closing down or have less need for staff
You can only be dismissed after an accident if it was entirely your fault and can be considered misconduct. If your employer were partially or entirely at fault for your injuries, they would not be acting according to the employment law if they dismissed you. In this case, you would be entitled to contest their decision at an employment tribunal.
Can I be sacked if I make a personal injury claim?
Many people worry about how their employer will treat them if they start legal proceedings following a workplace accident. However, you should remember it is your legal right to claim if their negligence caused you harm and financial loss.
If you make an honest compensation claim, it would be illegal for your employer to sack you solely because of this. They cannot treat you any differently or force you to leave your job against your will either. Under UK law, this would be considered unfair or constructive dismissal. That would entitle you to take further action at an employment tribunal.
If you want to claim at an employment tribunal, you have three months to do so after the date of your dismissal. If the tribunal decides in your favour, it may order your employer to reinstate you or take other corrective measures to compensate you.
How long do I have to start a claim?
Under the Limitation Act 1980, the time limit to start a personal injury claim is three years after an accident at work. If your injury developed over time or is not immediately apparent, the three years will begin from when you became aware of the damage.
There are several exceptions to this limitation period:
- If you were under 18 at the time of the accident, you have until your 21st birthday to claim.
- There is no time limit if the claimant cannot start legal proceedings. That could be due to a brain injury or another disability caused by a work accident or a pre-existing condition like Down syndrome. A litigation friend could claim for them at any time.
- There is a two-year time limit to claim through the CICA if you were the victim of an assault at work.
- If you were injured while working in the military, you have the right to claim through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) within seven years of your accident.
The sooner you seek legal advice after an accident, the better. That will make it easier to remember crucial details and make a successful personal injury claim.
What can I claim compensation for?
If you suffered an injury at work due to your employer’s negligence, you can seek compensation for how this has affected your life. Your compensation award will be based on two types of losses:
General damages will cover pain, suffering and loss of amenity. The latter refers to how the injury has prevented you from engaging in activities you used to enjoy.
Special damages will cover the financial losses and expenses related to your accident. These can include:
- Costs of medical treatment, such as consultation fees, diagnostic tests and prescriptions
- Travel expenses for medical appointments
- Lost wages due to taking time off work to recover
- Changes to your home or vehicle to accommodate your injuries
- Costs of care and assistance with daily living, even if provided by loved ones
Special damages are calculated using evidence such as receipts, payslips and bank statements. General damages are more challenging to work out and are based on the guidelines published by the Judicial College. Our online compensation calculator offers various examples of general damages.
Do I need to hire a solicitor to make a claim?
Hiring a personal injury solicitor is not legally required, but doing so can significantly improve your chances of making a successful accident claim. We understand that most claimants cannot afford to pay the legal costs upfront. That is why our partner solicitors work on a 100% no win no fee basis.
If you make a no win no fee accident at work claim, it means that:
- Your solicitor only gets a success fee of up to 25% of your compensation if they win the case;
- Due to the After the Event insurance policy included in your agreement, you will not pay any legal fees should the claim fail;
- You only pay the cost of the ATE premium if your claim is successful.
Hiring a no win no fee lawyer brings many other benefits:
- Help secure proof to support your claim
- Handle communications with your employer and their insurer
- They will keep you updated on the progression of the case
- A strong understanding of legal matters
- They know how to negotiate to secure the best injury compensation possible
If you wonder, ‘What are my rights after an accident at work?’ or whether you are eligible for a no win no fee service, call 0800 678 1410 to speak to a legal adviser. You can also request a call back by using our online claim form.