If you are involved in an accident at work and as a consequence suffer some kind of injury, whether minor or catastrophic, it can complicate your life in many ways. Not only would you need to take time off work to recover from your injuries, but it can also mean that you are put under a lot of mental and financial pressure too. Knowing what to do following a workplace accident is essential which includes what needs to be done immediately and what needs to be done a little further down the line. To find out more on what you should do when you are injured in an accident at work, please read on.
Get First-aid From Designated Work Colleague
All responsible employers have specific procedures in place which employees are instructed to follow should they be involved in an accident at work. This includes who they should turn to for first-aid when necessary. A well organised workplace would have a designated person or people who are in charge of first-aid. The designated person would be trained to administer first-aid to injured employees as an initial treatment following an accident in the workplace.
Some minor injuries can be treated with first-aid, but it is still important for the incident to be recorded in the accident report book. If there is no accident book, a record of the incident and your injuries, however minor, should be written down and sent to your employer, bearing in mind that you should keep a copy of the record for your personal files. This record is important should you find that you need further medical treatment for an injury you first thought was only minor.
Seek Medical Attention
Should you believe your injuries are only slight, you should still seek medical attention from either a doctor or by going to the Accident and Emergency department of a local hospital. If you suffered some kind of head injury, medical attention must be sought as soon as possible and you should be taken to hospital by ambulance with medics in attendance. It is also important to have a work colleague accompany you to hospital.
Being examined by a doctor or other medical professional ensures that the extent of your injuries are correctly diagnosed at the outset. All too often, what is thought to be a minor injury sustained in an accident at work, can turn into a more serious health issue further down the line.
Having an official medical report of your injuries would be needed should you decide that your employer was negligent in their duty to keep you safe and this resulted in you being injured in an accident in the workplace. With this said, the first and most important thing, is to focus on your injuries, anything else can wait until you regain your strength which includes thinking about filing an accident at work claim against your employer.
Make Sure Your Injuries and Accident at Work are Reported
Reporting an accident at work that leaves you injured is essential, bearing in mind that some workplace accidents are reportable to RIDDOR. If you are unable to file a report of the incident yourself because your injuries are so serious they prevent you from doing so, you should ensure that a work colleague can report the incident on your behalf, detailing the extent of your injuries too.
Having an official report of the incident and your injuries would be required should you decide to file a claim against your employer because they were in breach of their duty to keep you safe from injury and harm in the workplace. This record proves the accident occurred at work which makes it much harder for an unscrupulous employer or their insurers to dispute your accident at work claim.
An unscrupulous employer may apply a lot of pressure on your work colleagues so they deny the accident that left you injured occurred. A written report of the incident provides the evidence needed to prove your case. Another important point about filing an official accident at work report, is that it alerts other workers to the hazard and could go a long way in preventing them from suffering similar injuries.
Make Sure The Accident and Your Injuries are Reported to the Person in Charge
It is also essential that the accident and your injuries be reported to the person in charge as soon as possible following an incident. A responsible employer would have specific reporting accident at work protocols in place which all employees must follow. Should you have sustained severe injuries, your employer has a legal obligation to report the incident to the Health and Safety Executive, bearing in mind that this would depend on the circumstances surrounding the accident and the amount of time you would need to take off work.
It is worth noting that by not following a company’s procedure or staff manual when it comes to accidents at work, could mean that you are in breach of your contract. With this said, all accidents at work and “near-misses” should be officially reported to the person in charge and all procedures must be adhered to.
Proving liability for an accident at work from the outset makes filing a claim much less of a challenge. Should you believe you are to blame for your injuries or the person in charge places the blame on you, it does not necessarily mean that an employer could not be deemed responsible. A solicitor who specialises in accident at work claims would ascertain whether your employer was negligent in their duty to keep you safe from harm and injury while at work which could strengthen your claim considerably.
Ensure Someone Makes a Record of the Accident and Your Injuries in the Accident Report Book
All businesses and companies should have an accident report book which must be easily accessible by all employees. With this said, very small businesses are not obliged to keep an accident report book, but this does not mean a record of an incident should not be officially noted. An unscrupulous employer may not want to keep an accident report book because they place their focus more on performance targets than safety in the workplace. Whether you intend on filing an accident at work claim against an employer or not, you should always insist that an incident that leaves you injured whether your injuries are slight or more severe, is recorded.
You can either choose to send details of the accident at work that left you injured to your employer via a letter which you should send “recorded delivery” or by emailing the details to them from your personal email account. This way, an unscrupulous employer would not be able to delete the record of the incident.
It is worth noting that should your employer flatly refuse to make a record of your accident at work, you may have grounds to resign from your job and then to file a constructive dismissal claim against them. With this said, it is always best to seek legal advice before taking such a drastic step as resigning. A solicitor who specialises in employment law would be able to offer essential advice before making such a major decision.
Find Out if The Incident and Your Injuries are Reportable to RIDDOR
Employers are legally obliged to report certain accidents and injuries to the relevant authority which is known as RIDDOR. Should an employer be in breach of this duty, they could be liable to a hefty fine which can be up to £20,000. With this said, it is always worth checking if the injury you sustained in an accident at work is a “reportable” incident which you can do on the Health and Safety website before making sure your employer has reported it as they are legally obliged to do.
Make Sure You Have Photos of the Accident and Your Injuries
Having evidence and proof that the accident that left you injured at work, is essential should you choose to file for compensation against your employer. An unscrupulous employer may choose to dispute your claim and if you do not have enough evidence to prove your case, it could make it a lot more challenging for a solicitor to defend your claim.
You should take photos of where the accident at work occurred which you can do using your phone. If there is CCTV in the workplace, ask if you can have a copy of the video. Having photos and videos of where the incident occurred and the circumstances surrounding the incident, helps strengthen your case and it also means an unscrupulous employer cannot carry out repairs or put in place safety measures that should have been there before you were injured in an accident at work.
It is worth noting, that you could never have enough proof and evidence when it comes to accident at work claims. As such, the more photos you have of your injuries, where the incident occurred, the stronger your accident at work claim would be.
Make Sure You Get Witness Statements From Work Colleagues
Getting as many witness statements as you can from the people you work with is also essential. The reason being that your injuries may prevent you from being at work for a period of time. It is during the time you are off work that an employer may set in place measures to improve employee safety which would be perfectly acceptable and normal. However, an employer might also use this as an opportunity to cover up what was essentially a hazardous environment for you to work in.
It is also worth asking whether a work colleague would be willing to record any changes an employer makes to the working environment and whether they would keep you updated of new measures that are set in place while you are off work recovering from your injuries.
Should an unscrupulous employer decide to investigate an accident at work while you are recovering from your injuries, a co-worker who is willing to be a key witness to the incident, could make sure the correct details of both the accident and your injuries are properly recorded, all of which would support and strengthen your accident at work claim.
Get a Medical Report and Keep a Diary of Your Symptoms
Many solicitors who specialise in accident at work claims, recommend that you make a record of all your symptoms from the time you are injured and throughout your recovery. The reason being that a doctor or nurse, may not record the details of all the symptoms you are experiencing because they place their main focus on the most severe injuries you sustained.
All too often, what is initially thought of as a minor injury can quickly turn into a much more serious health issue at a later date. This can even result in a debilitating, long-term condition that could be deemed more significant when filing an accident at work claim against an employer. As such, having an official medical record of minor injuries is crucial because further down the line, a specialist may find it challenging when it comes to proving that a health issue you are suffering from was caused by the accident at work that left you injured earlier in time.
It is also worth noting that some workplace injury claims can take years to settle which is especially true if your injuries happen to be complex and you need long-term medical care and treatment. This is when keeping a diary of your injuries/symptoms and having initial medical records that detail even the minor symptoms you were experiencing, can make filing a successful claim against an employer a lot less challenging.
Attend Follow-up Hospital or Doctor Appointments
It is also good practice to attend follow-up appointments either with your doctor or at a local hospital so that your injuries can be regularly assessed throughout your recovery. Even if you think you are recovering well, having several official medical reports can help strengthen your claim. The reason being that should you have only been examined by a medical professional when you were first injured, it may mean that an expert might believe that it only took a few months for you to recover from the injuries you sustained in a workplace accident. More serious injuries would require that you are seen by a doctor or other medical professional more frequently during your recovery and this can have a bearing on how your injuries are perceived by a medical professional who is assessing your claim.
It is worth noting that it is a medical expert who would establish the extent of the injuries you sustained and by providing several medical reports would help determine how serious your injuries were. It is also note-worthy that all NHS costs incurred would be paid for by an employer’s insurers on a successful accident at work claim.
Should You File a Grievance Against Your Employer?
You have every right to file a grievance against an employer should you be involved in an accident at work that leaves you injured. Should your employer object to you doing this, you should seek legal advice from a solicitor who specialises in accident at work claims. The reason being that you may be entitled to file a whistleblowing employment claim against your employer too, more especially if you followed the correct protocols when writing your grievance letter no matter what the outcome of an accident at work investigation happened to be.
It is also worth noting that should an employer fail in their duty to investigate your grievance, you may be entitled to file a constructive dismissal claim against them which a solicitor who specialises in employment law would be able to advise you on before you take any action which includes resigning from your job.
Make Sure You Record All Your Out-of-Pocket Expenses
When filing an accident at work claim against your employer, it is important to keep a record of all the expenses you incur as a direct result of having been injured in the workplace. This includes keeping all of the following receipts which would be needed as evidence of the out or pocket expenses you had to pay out:
- Travel receipts to and from hospital or another medical facility which you had to attend for necessary treatments. This includes whether you get there and back by car, train, taxi, bus or other mode of transport
- Medical expenses which includes prescriptions, specialist medical care and all other costs incurred for any treatments you require
- The cost of medical aids which includes neck braces, leg supports and anything else that you need to help you through your recovery
- All the pay which includes perks and bonuses you missed out on while recovering from your injuries
- Record all of your future loss of earnings should you not be able to go back to work because your injuries prevent you from doing so
Keep a Record of All Your Losses
You can also include any losses you incurred as a result of your injuries which includes not being able to go on a holiday that was pre-booked. Other losses could include the following:
- Care costs should you need assistance in the home
- The extra cost of heating bills due to staying at home during your recovery
The more proof you can provide of the losses you incurred as a direct result of having been involved in an accident at work that prevented you from attending your job, the more you could be compensated in a successful claim.
Does Your Employer Hold Information That Could Assist a Future Claim?
A solicitor who specialises in accident at work claims would recommend that you find out whether your employer has any information relating to the incident that left you injured and unable to work. This type of information may be invaluable should you wish to file a future claim against your employer. The sort of information your employer should provide would include the following:
- All correspondence relating to your accident at work and your injuries. This should include emails and your health files as well as any information that is in your personnel file
The Information Commissioner’s office website provides a lot of valuable information on Subject Access Requests which typically cost £10 and which you would receive in about 40 days or so, bearing in mind that once you receive the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the £10 fee is no longer applicable.
It is important to note that you must submit a Subject Access Request before you file an accident at work claim against your employer. The reason being that should you begin a claim before making the request, your employer could object stating they were not given the opportunity to comply with any request you made of them beforehand.
Your employer could argue instead that they are therefore only obliged to disclose a certain amount of information which they can do because when it comes to personal injury claims, there are a lot more restrictions than other provisions as laid out in the Data Protection Act of 1998.
Seek Legal Advice From An Accident at Work Solicitor
These days, the majority of solicitors work with clients who suffer injuries in accidents at work on a No Win No Fee basis. By contacting a lawyer you would be offered a free, initial, no obligation consultation and it is during this first meeting that the solicitor would determine whether you have a strong claim against a negligent employer. Once this has been established and providing there is still enough time left on the 3 year deadline, a solicitor would take on your case on a No Win No Fee basis. As such, you would not have to worry about finding the money to pay the solicitor a retainer or upfront fee because of the Conditional Fee Agreement you entered into.
The agreement provides all the relevant details pertaining to the “success fee” that would only be payable on a successful accident at work claim and the Terms and Conditions of the contract. A great benefit to working with a No Win No Fee lawyer is that the “success fee” is taken from the amount of compensation you are awarded. In short, you would not have to find the funds to pay this either. Should your accident at work claim not be successful, you would not have to pay for the legal services a No Win No Fee solicitor provided.