Employers are not legally obliged to provide you with an employment contract when you work for them. However, having a contract does mean that you are made more aware of your rights and your contractual obligations. With this said, employment contracts can be “verbal” agreements which is typically the case if you work for a smaller company, smaller business or employer. As such, if you are injured in an accident at work without an employment contract, you still have the right to claim compensation from an employer which you can do by filing a personal injury claim.
What is a Verbal Employment Contract?
If you do not have a written employment contract, the chances are that you entered into a “verbal” agreement with your employer. This would have involved discussing the main terms of your role within a company or business. It could be that you were given a staff handbook or manual that your employer provided you with when you first started working for them. It is important that you check to see if any of the documents whether it is a staff handbook, manual, working practices and procedures do not form part of an employment contract but are simply provided as a guidance to how you should carry out the work an employer tasks you to do. Examples being what type of dress code is required and the breaks you would be entitled to take during the course of a working day.
If you only have a verbal contract, it is harder to establish what the terms of your employment are because you would have to rely on both your memory and your employer’s recollection of what was agreed. In England and Wales, your employer by law is required to provide you with a “statement of certain specified terms” which they must do within 2 months of you starting your job with them. Although the statement is not an employment contract, it should clearly describe what you agreed verbally with your employer as to the terms of your employment.
However, when it comes to your workers’ rights if you are involved in an accident at work and you suffer any kind of injury, whether minor or more severe, you still have the right to seek compensation if you can prove negligence on the part of your employer and you case meets specific criteria associated with personal injury claims.
What Are My Rights If I Am Injured in an Accident at Work?
Your worker’s rights are protected whether you have a written or verbal contract with your employer. Your legal rights if you are injured in a workplace accident or develop a work-related medical condition, are also protected which means you are entitled to do the following:
- Seek medical attention – if an employer tries to stop you from seeing a doctor or seeking medical attention from another medical professional, they would be in breach of the law. If there is a designated first-aider, you should let them examine your injuries before visiting the Accident and Emergency department of the local hospital or your own GP if you are injured in an accident at work, whether you have an employment contract or not
- Make sure the incident is officially recorded – if there is an Accident Report Book, make sure the accident at work that left you injured is recorded in it. If there is not official Accident Report Book, send a personal email to your employer or written letter detailing the workplace accident and the injuries you sustained. You should also check that the details of the incident have been correctly noted and if you find there are errors, you have the right to correct these before adding your signature to the report as written in the Accident Report Book
- Check if your employer verbally agreed to pay you sick pay – even if you had a verbal agreement with your employer, you should still check to see if you would be entitled to receive sick pay from them during your recovery bearing in mind that you would be entitled to receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). As such, you should check whether your employer has indeed made sure you are registered with SSP which you can do by contacting the local benefits office
- Get witness statements and their contact details – the more evidence you can provide the stronger your claim for accident at work compensation would be even if you do not have a written contract of employment with your employer
- Take photos of where the accident at work happened – these would be needed when filing an accident at work claim against your employer
- Get a copy of the CCTV footage if available – your employer is obliged to provide CCTV footage when you put in a request and must do so in a timely manner
- Make sure you get a detailed medical report providing evidence of the extent of the injuries you sustained in a workplace accident
- Make sure you attend all your medical appointments – even if you return to work and still have outpatient appointments, you should ensure that you attend them bearing in mind that your employer is obliged to let you
- Make sure you are fully recovered before returning to work – your employer cannot pressure you to return to work if you are not ready to do so
Your Right to Claim Compensation for Injuries Sustained in a Workplace Accident
As previously mentioned, you have the right to seek compensation if you are injured in an accident at work whether you have a written or verbal contract with your employer. You have the right to be compensated for the damage and losses you incurred providing your case meets specific criteria associated with personal injury claims. The “damages” you would be awarded are to cover the workplace injuries you sustained while your “losses” are awarded in a successful accident at work claim to compensate you for all the expenses and other costs you paid out because you were injured in the workplace.
General damages cover your injuries, the pain, suffering and any loss of amenity you may have had to endure. As such, the amount of general damages you would receive would reflect the extent of the workplace injuries you sustained and how your injuries affect your life and ability to work.
Special damages cover your medical and travel expenses which would include the following:
- Medical care, treatment and therapy that is not covered by the NHS
- Medical aids which includes walking frames and other aids that you need
- Travel to and from treatments whether you go by car, taxi, train, bus or other means
- Care costs should your injuries require you to have daily care in the home
- Home adaptation if your injuries are such that your house needs to be modified
Would My Accident at Work Claim be Valid?
For your accident at work claim to be valid, you would have to provide proof that your employer was negligent in their legal duty to keep you safe while in their employment and carrying out jobs that you are tasked to do by them. Even if you believe you may be partly responsible for the workplace injuries you sustained, you should still discuss your case with a personal injury lawyer because your employer may be partly liable which in legal terms is referred to as “contributory negligence”. If this is the case, the amount of accident at work compensation you would receive would reflect the level of liability you are deemed to have had.
Other criteria that your personal injury claim must meet is that the workplace incident that left you injured occurred within the last 3 years which is the statutory time limit associated with all claims although where children are involved, the time limit is longer. Should you run out of time, your claim would be deemed “statute barred” and even if you have plenty of evidence that your employer was negligent, you would not be able to claim accident at work compensation from them.
What Are An Employer’s Responsibilities Towards Employees in the Workplace?
There are laws and legislation that protects employees and other workers which an employer must respect and abide by. Health and Safety regulations must be adhered to and should your employer choose to ignore them or cut corners to get a job done faster which results in you suffering an injury in an accident at work, they could be held liable. Your employer’s responsibilities include the following:
- Were you provided with adequate training to carry out a job you were tasked to do by an employer safely? Your employer has a duty to ensure that all people who work for them are correctly trained to do their jobs. It could involve being trained in manual handling, to use specialist machinery or equipment. If you were not correctly trained to an acceptable standard, your employer would be deemed in breach of Health and Safety regulations
- Were you informed of accident management protocols, were you made aware of the hazards in the workplace and were you told where the safety exits were situated? If you were not, again your employer could be deemed negligent
- Did your employer ensure that you were given adequate personal protective equipment (PPE)? If they did not and you suffered any sort of injury whether minor or more severe, your employer could be held liable
- Was the equipment, machinery or the tools you were given to work with correctly maintained in good working order? If not and you are injured in a workplace incident, your employer could be held responsible
- Did your employer or the person in charge of the workplace inform you on how to report accidents and where to find the Accident Report Book?
- Were enough employees working at the time of the workplace accident and were there enough first-aiders present at the time
- Did your employer respond in a timely manner to any concerns regarding potential dangers in the work environment when they were told of them?
Do I Have Workers Rights If I Am Injured at Work?
As previously mentioned even if you do not have a written contract of employer, you worker’s rights are there to protect you which means you can do the following if you are injured in a workplace accident that was caused by either a negligent employer or a fellow worker:
- Seek compensation for injuries you sustained which includes all the costs and expenses you incurred that can be linked to your injuries
- Your job is safe if you seek compensation by filing an accident at work claim against your employer
Can An Employer Pressure Me If I Sue Them For Compensation?
Many employees worry that by suing their employer for compensation if they have been injured in an accident at work, would result in them losing their jobs. Injured workers worry they would be treated unfairly or detrimentally by the boss if they file an accident at work claim against them. Should your employer act in this way and threaten you because you seek compensation, they would be breaking the law. An employer cannot put pressure on you to not file a claim either because providing there is proof of employer negligence, you would be entitled to sue for the workplace injuries you sustained.
Your employer would also be acting unlawfully if they even “imply” that you could be made redundant or fired if you file a personal injury claim against them which would entitle you to file additional action against them. This could be a detriment claim or an unfair dismissal claim if you were fired without another good and valid reason other than the fact you sought compensation from a negligent employer.
Should I Sue For Compensation if Injured at Work?
Employers in the UK must hold liability insurance which must meet the legal requirement which stands at £5 million. The policy must be issued by a major, recognised insurance provider and your employer should display the certificate in the workplace. Should you request details of your employer’s liability insurance and their provider, your employer is obliged by law to provide this to you in a timely manner.
When you are injured in the workplace because of negligence on the part of a third party, whether it is your employer or a work colleague who could be held liable, you may not be able to work for a period of time. As a result you may only be entitled to receive SSP – statutory sick pay – during the time you are unable to work. This could put you and your loved ones under a lot of financial pressure if you cannot pay your normal living expenses. Seeking compensation from an employer who failed to keep you safe from injury in the workplace because they were in breach of Health and Safety regulations, would take this pressure off you allowing you to concentrate on getting better.
When you seek compensation for an accident at work, it is your employer’s insurers who deal with your claim against your employer. The insurance company would pay out the accident at work compensation you are awarded if your case succeeds, whether it goes to court or not. It is noteworthy that 95% of personal injury claims are settled before going before a judge because insurance companies do not want to take the risk of losing a court case. The reason being the insurer would have to pay the claimants court costs as well as their own.
What Advantages Are There to Having a Personal Injury Lawyer Represent Me?
There are many advantages to having a personal injury lawyer represent you when you file an accident at work claim against your employer, more especially if your claim against them is disputed. Solicitors have the expertise and experience when it comes to gathering all the evidence needed to prove a claim and have all the tools necessary to investigate disputed accident at work claims.
One of the main advantages of contacting a personal injury solicitor when injured in the workplace, is that you would have the benefit of being examined by an independent medical professional who would produce a detailed report on the injuries you sustained at work. This detailed medical report would be used as the basis to calculate the level of general damages you could be awarded if your accident at work claim is successful.
Other advantages of having a personal injury lawyer represent you when filing an accident at work claim against your employer also includes but is not limited to the following:
- Your initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer would be free of charge and you would be under no obligation to continue with your claim against an employer if you decide not to proceed
- The solicitor would work with you on a No Win No Fee basis once they have assessed that your case against your employer is strong even if you do not have a written contract of employment
- The solicitor would let you know as soon as feasibly possible the amount of accident at work compensation you may be awarded if your case is upheld whether it goes to court or is settled out of court
- Personal injury solicitors have vast legal experience when it comes to representing people who seek compensation for injuries they sustained through no fault of their own. Lawyers understand that pre-action protocols must be respected and that the statutory 3 year time limit must be adhered to
- Personal injury lawyers can access to legal libraries which they can reference when investigating and researching your case against an employer who could be deemed negligent in their duty to keep you safe while you were in their employment
- A solicitor would work hard to ensure that you are awarded an acceptable level of accident at work compensation and should your case be more complicated, the solicitor would also ensure that you receive interim payments until a final settlement is agreed
- Should you have suffered extremely severe injuries in the workplace that require you receive long-term therapy, a personal injury lawyer would ensure that the cost of the therapy is covered in the amount of accident at work compensation you are awarded
What is the Time Limit To Making an Accident at Work Claim?
There is a statutory 3 year time limit associated with all personal injury claims although it would depend on the circumstances surrounding a claim as to when the time limit begins which is detailed below:
- 3 years from the date of the workplace accident in which you suffered injuries
- 3 years from the date that you were officially diagnosed by a medical professional as suffering from a health issue they have confirmed is linked to injuries you sustained in a workplace accident
- 3 years from when you turn 18 years of age because should the workplace accident have occurred prior to you being 18 years of age, you can file your claim against a negligent employer on your 18th birthday
Would a Solicitor Work on a No Win No Fee Basis on My Claim?
Providing a personal injury lawyer feels that your case against an employer is strong and that they could be held responsible for the workplace injuries you sustained, they would represent you without the need to request that you pay an upfront fee. Having signed a No Win No Fee agreement, it allows the solicitor to begin investigating your claim and to communicate your intentions to your employer.
You would not have to pay ongoing fees as your accident at work claim against your employer progresses either which allows you to fully concentrate on your recovery. The only time you would pay the “success fee” that is set out in the No Win No Fee agreement is when you are awarded accident at work compensation, whether this is an out of court settlement or in a court hearing.
If you would like to know more about employment contracts, please follow the link below:
To find out more about your employer’s duty of care towards you in the workplace, please click on the following link: