Local authorities are one of the UK’s largest employers, with more than a million people working for councils throughout the UK. From working in offices in administrative and financial roles through to working in waste collection and recycling facilities, the scope of work undertaken by council employees is extensive.
If you are employed by the council, and you have had an accident at work within the past three years, you may be entitled to make a work accident compensation claim. We work with a network of personal injury lawyers that have vast experience in helping people in this very position seek compensation from the council at fault for their injury.
If you would like to discuss an accident you have been involved in, or you would simply like to find out more about the process of making a claim, call free on 0800 678 1410 or click here to request a call back. An experienced claims adviser will call you back for a free consultation, and they will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Making an injury claim against an employer is not something that most people will take lightly. It requires careful consideration, and understandably it will raise a number of important questions. In this section, we will answer some of the most common questions we receive about work accidents against local authorities.
Does the council owe a duty of care towards employees?
Local councils have a duty of care towards their employees, much like any other employer. This duty is based on various legislation, such as the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and includes several key responsibilities, such as:
- Provide a safe and healthy working environment
- Maintain secure facilities, equipment, and infrastructure
- Carry out regular risk assessments to identify hazards
- Take steps to minimise or eliminate risks and prevent accidents and injuries
- Offer adequate training and education to staff on how to carry out their job duties safely
- Provide the necessary personal protective equipment and gear to employees when required
- Promote the health and well-being of employees by providing access to health services and mental health support
- Have clear workplace policies and practices related to health and safety
- Have procedures in place for reporting workplace injuries
If you suffer any injury or illness due to a breach of duty, you may be able to claim compensation from the local council.
Can I sue the council for negligence?
If you work for the council and have had an accident while carrying out your job, you might be entitled to start a council worker accident claim. The easiest way to find out whether you could claim is through a free consultation with a personal injury solicitor. They will ask you a few questions about your situation to determine if:
- The council breached its duty of care towards you
- Its negligence caused a work accident or incident to take place
- You suffered an injury or illness as a result within the past three years
Your solicitor will know which legislation applies to your case to establish liability for your accident. Your job will be to work with them to gather evidence to show how the accident happened and how it has affected your life.
As with any other personal injury claim, you could receive accident compensation even if you were partially at fault for your injuries. If you had less than 50% of the blame, you could receive a reduced amount of compensation that reflects what is known as contributory negligence.
How to make a work accident claim against the council?
If you have been injured in an accident due to the council's negligence, the first thing you should do is seek legal advice. A personal injury lawyer will discuss your case during a free initial consultation. They will ask you several questions to determine whether you have a valid claim and your chances of receiving compensation for your injuries. You can also ask them any questions you may have about the claims process, such as how much compensation you could receive.
If you can make an injury claim, your solicitor will offer you a no win no fee agreement. That means you do not have to pay them anything upfront. Your legal representative will only get a success fee from your compensation award if they win your case.
Once you appoint your solicitor, they will help you gather evidence to support your claim. This could be medical records, accident reports, witness statements and other documents detailed in the section below. They will also arrange a free medical exam with a specialist to assess your injuries and future care needs thoroughly.
Once your solicitor has all the accident and injury details, they will send a claim notification form to the local authority you work for and inform them of your intentions to start a claim. If the defendant admits liability, your solicitor will negotiate compensation for your injuries. Your settlement will cover the pain and suffering you endured and any related financial losses.
If you cannot settle or the other side denies liability, your solicitor will issue court proceedings. That will usually motivate the defendant to conclude the case and avoid the extra costs of going to court. If you still cannot settle, your solicitor will go to trial and argue your case before a judge. Whether you negotiate your settlement or a judge awards it, you should receive any compensation you win within four weeks.
What evidence do I need to claim against the council?
To make a successful council worker accident claim, you will need as much evidence as possible to support your case. You must be able to prove how the accident happened, why the council is at fault, and how you suffered as a result. Any of the following items could be used as proof in your claim:
- Photographs. Take photos or videos of the accident scene. Include any hazardous conditions, defective equipment, or obstacles that contributed to your injury. Do this before anything is repaired, removed or replaced.
- Accident report forms. Councils and local authorities are legally obliged to keep an accident book and record all accidents at work. You should report your accident as soon as possible to your employer and request a signed copy of the logbook entry. That will prove the date, time and location of your injuries.
- Witness statements. Get the name and contact details of anyone who saw how your accident took place, whether co-workers, visitors or members of the public. If the council denies liability for your injuries, their testimony can be valuable to support your claim.
- Medical records. If you have a workplace accident, you should visit your GP or the A&E promptly, even if your injuries seem minor. Your medical records, including doctor's notes, diagnostic tests and treatment plans, will help establish the extent and nature of your injuries.
- CCTV footage. If the incident occurred in an area with surveillance cameras, request copies of the footage to help establish what happened. Do this as early as possible, as CCTV footage is often deleted quickly.
- Maintenance records. If your injury resulted from poorly maintained premises or equipment, these records can show a history of negligence.
- Correspondence. Keep copies of all correspondence with the council, including emails or letters about your accident and injuries.
- Personal notes. Write down everything you can remember about the incident to help you recall essential details later. It also helps to keep a journal of your injuries, recovery process and how your life has been affected.
- Proof of losses. The personal injury compensation covers all the financial losses and expenses you incurred due to the accident. To claim for these, you should keep all receipts, invoices, payslips and other proof of out-of-pocket expenses.
Your solicitor will help you gather all the evidence you need to ensure you receive the maximum compensation you are entitled to. To find out if you can make a no win no fee claim for compensation, call 0800 678 1410 today or request a call back.
How long do I have to make a claim against the council?
The standard time limit for making a work accident claim is three years from the date it happened. If you were under the age of 18 at the time, the three-year period begins on the day of your 18th birthday.
If you have suffered an industrial illness, such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, vibration white finger or industrial deafness, there is unlikely to be a specific date when your illness occurred. These types of illnesses usually arise due to long-term exposure to hazardous working environments without the appropriate protective equipment.
The important date in these circumstances is therefore the date that you first became aware that your illness was caused by your work with the council. This is referred to as the 'date of knowledge', and the three-year time limit will begin from this date.
What services are councils responsible for?
Councils and local authorities in the UK provide a wide range of services. They are responsible for all the spaces considered public property, including:
- Schools and education
- Roads and highways
- Public transport
- Parks, playgrounds and leisure facilities
- Waste disposal and recycling
- Social services like child protection and care for the elderly
- Walkways and pavements
Some of the responsibilities councils have to ensure the health, safety and well-being of the public and council employees include:
- Keep streets and public areas clean and tidy
- Repair cracked pavements and fill potholes on roads and walkways
- Collect household waste and promote recycling
- Keep street furniture well-maintained
- Ensure regular inspection and maintenance of public transportation
- Provide social care for vulnerable individuals
- Clear all public premises of tripping hazards like debris and fallen trees
- Grit all roads and pavements to prevent slips, falls and traffic accidents
- Provide all workers with adequate training and equipment
- Conducting regular inspections of public spaces and buildings to identify potential safety hazards
- Promptly respond to any public concerns and emergencies like floods or fires
If you have suffered an injury because your local council has failed to upkeep their duties, you could be able to claim compensation.
Types of job roles employed by councils
Every employee has the right to work in a safe environment and be protected against risks to their health and safety. Many people work for the local council, doing jobs that might leave them vulnerable to accidents and injuries. Not only are those employed in council offices owed a duty of care by the local authorities. You might be able to make a claim against your local council if you work for them as a:
- Administrative staff. These employees manage day-to-day office tasks and handle paperwork, including record-keeping, data entry, and customer service.
- Finance and accounting. Financial roles involve budgeting, accounting, and financial planning to manage the council's finances.
- Social worker. Local councils employ social workers who provide support and services to vulnerable individuals and families in the community.
- Environmental health officer. They monitor and enforce public health and safety regulations, such as food safety and sanitation.
- Highway and infrastructure worker. These employees maintain and repair local roadways, bridges, and other infrastructure.
- Environmental services employee. Workers in this category manage waste collection and recycling.
- Emergency services personnel. Some councils employ emergency services staff, including firefighters and paramedics.
- Public health worker. These professionals focus on public health initiatives, disease prevention, and health promotion.
- Leisure and sports facility staff. Employees at leisure centres and sports facilities run by the council, such as fitness instructors.
- Road safety personnel. This job involves managing traffic flow and road safety.
- Construction worker. Councils often hire builders for various projects, such as construction of public buildings and roads.
You might be eligible to claim compensation if you had an accident caused by the local council's negligence while working in any of these or other jobs. An experienced solicitor can determine whether you have a valid council worker accident claim and exactly how much compensation you deserve for your losses.
Common types of council worker accident claims
Workplace accidents for council employees can vary widely based on the specific job roles and tasks involved. However, common types of accidents that may lead to a compensation claim against the council include:
- Slips, trips and falls. These are among the most common accidents in any workplace. They can happen due to wet or uneven surfaces, poor lighting, or objects left in walkways.
- Manual handling accidents. Employees may be at risk of hernias, strains, sprains, or more serious musculoskeletal injuries in jobs that involve lifting and moving heavy objects.
- Road traffic accidents. Council workers who operate vehicles, including refuse trucks, maintenance vehicles, or other equipment, can be involved in road traffic accidents.
- Fall from a height. Employees working on maintenance, construction, or repair projects may risk falling from heights, such as ladders or scaffolding.
- Exposure to hazardous substances. Workers who deal with chemicals, asbestos, or other dangerous materials may be at risk of exposure and related illnesses.
- Violence and aggression. Employees in roles that involve dealing with the public, such as social workers or parking attendants, may face situations where they encounter violence or aggression.
- Electrical accidents. Council workers who maintain or repair electrical systems can be at risk of electric shocks or burns.
- Crush accidents. These can happen when employees are struck by vehicles, machinery, or falling objects or caught in moving equipment.
- Noise-related injuries. Workers exposed to high noise levels during their tasks may suffer from hearing loss or other related conditions.
- Stress-related illnesses. While not a physical injury, stress and mental health issues can result from the demands of council jobs and dealing with various challenges.
Councils must have health and safety measures in place to protect employees against injuries. If your employer has failed to do so and is at fault for your harm, you could be entitled to compensation. You typically have three years to start a claim from the date of the accident.
Common injuries in council worker compensation claims
If the council was at fault for your accident, you could make a compensation claim for any resulting injuries, including:
- Back injuries. Council workers often engage in manual labour and may suffer back injuries from lifting heavy objects or performing physically demanding tasks.
- Head injuries. Head injuries can result from slips, trips, falls, or vehicle or equipment accidents. These injuries can vary from minor concussions to more severe brain trauma.
- Sprains and strains. Sprains and strains affect ligaments, tendons and muscles. They range from minor stretches to complete tears that may need surgery. You may experience these injuries from overexertion, sudden movements, or repetitive actions.
- Soft tissue injuries. Workers in maintenance, construction, or landscaping roles are prone to cuts and lacerations from working with sharp tools or equipment.
- Fractures. Fractures or broken bones can occur during falls from heights, accidents with machinery, or heavy object impacts.
- Nerve damage. Nerve damage may result from traumatic injuries or overuse, leading to tingling, numbness, or loss of function in affected areas.
- Burns. Council employees handling hot materials and chemicals or exposed to fire risks may suffer burns ranging from minor to severe.
- Repetitive strain injuries. Workers performing repetitive tasks like data entry or assembly line work can develop repetitive strain injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Crush injuries. Crush injuries can occur when workers are caught between heavy objects or machinery, causing significant harm to the affected body parts.
The type and severity of the harm suffered will determine how much compensation you receive if you make a successful council worker accident claim.
How much compensation will I receive?
Compensation is judged on a case-by-case basis. There are guidelines provided by the Judicial Studies Board (JSB), but compensation amounts can still vary massively depending upon the extent of the injury suffered and whether there is any long-lasting damage, such as scarring for example.
In addition to the compensation you receive for the actual injury or injuries you suffered, you can also recover damages for financial losses. This is referred to as special damages. It can cover costs such as lost wages, medication costs, transport to and from medical appointments and private treatments such as physiotherapy.
When you speak to a personal injury solicitor, they will fully assess the injuries you have suffered and the impact that they have had on your life. Based on the information gathered, they will be able to provide you with an estimated level of compensation that you should be looking to recover. You can also try our compensation calculator.
Who pays the compensation?
As with any employer, local authorities are legally obliged to have adequate Employers Liability insurance to cover them for any work-related accidents. If a successful claim is made, it is this insurance policy that would pay your council compensation claim, not the local authority directly.
Am I entitled to sick pay if I am unable to work due to the accident?
Your entitlement to sick pay will depend upon the terms stated in your contract of employment. Some employees may be entitled to full wages for a certain number of weeks, whereas others may only be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay.
If you are left out of pocket due to being unable to work following an accident, your loss of earnings can be added to your compensation claim. This is known as special damages, and can also include other financial losses, such as travel expenses and the cost of medication and treatment such as physiotherapy.
Could I lose my job if I make an accident at work claim?
Making a personal injury claim against any employer, including a local council, would not be considered as valid grounds to dismiss an employee. A person making a work related accident claim should therefore not be at risk of losing their job.
If you were dismissed under these circumstances, the actions of the council are likely to be considered as unfair. Subsequently, you may be entitled to make a separate claim for unfair dismissal. This would require the assistance of an employment law solicitor, and your case may be heard by an employment tribunal, unless the council accept wrongdoing and agree to pay suitable compensation beforehand. This course of action can also lead to you being reinstated in your former job role.