Many contractors believe that should they suffer an accident at work that leaves them injured when carrying out a job for employers, they would not be entitled to file for compensation against the person they are working for at the time the incident occurred. They think the challenge lies in establishing who could be held responsible for their injuries. Although being a self-employed contractor puts you in a different category than an “employee” and other workers which includes temporary and agency staff, there are instances when you may be able to file for compensation, providing you can prove an accident at work that left you injured meets certain criteria. To find out more please read on.
Are My Rights as a Contractor the Same as Permanent Staff and Employees?
As a self-employed person, you would not have the same rights in the workplace as that of permanent staff, agency workers or temporary staff. However, if you are working for an employer as a contractor, when it comes to health and safety in the workplace, an employer must ensure that you are kept safe from injury and harm just as they would for permanent and other employees who work for them. The business or company you are working for at the time, must ensure that you are protected from harm and as such, your rights in this regard are exactly the same as that of permanent and other staff who work on a temporary basis.
Can I Sue When an Accident at Work Was Caused by Another Employee?
Whether you can sue for being injured in an accident at work that was caused by another employee, would depend on the circumstances that led to the incident occurring. With this said, even though each incident would be assessed on its own merit, should you have been injured as a self-employed contractor because a colleague made an error or through their lack of judgement, liability may fall to the business owner you are working for at the time the accident happened.
The reason being that all businesses in the UK must by law abide to strict health and safety executive procedures and a failure to do so that results in injury, would mean that the company was in breach of their duty to keep you safe in the workplace whether you are a contractor, self-employed or a permanent employee.
When Would I Be Entitled to File an Accident at Work Claim as a Self-employed Contractor?
A lot of companies and businesses hire self-employed workers and contractors for specific jobs that need carrying out in the workplace. Examples for this are detailed below:
- For building and construction work
- Plumbing work
- Carpentry work
- Electrical work
- Erection of scaffolding
If you work as a self-employed contractor and are tasked to carry out any of the above for a business or company, whether the work is set to last a month or several months, and you suffered an accident at work that left you injured, you may be entitled to file a personal injury claim against the business or company owner. The reason being that the company or business would be charged with providing proper instructions for the work that you are to carry out. As such, the “control” of the working conditions would be taken out of your hands and therefore the liability would fall to the business or company owner.
Some instances when as a self-employed contractor, you would be entitled to claim compensation for an accident at work that left you injured could include the following:
- A business or company owner, manager or supervisor failed to provide the correct equipment to carry out the work you were tasked to do as a self-employed contractor
- You were not given adequate or insufficient training before starting a job
- An employer failed to provide the correct PPE (personal protective equipment). This includes ear plugs, gloves or safety goggles and other safety wear to suit the job you were tasked to do
- The equipment provided was defective
If any of the above applies to you as a contractor, you should seek legal advice from an accident at work solicitor who would be able to assess your case before advising you on how best to proceed with a valid accident at work claim against the person you were working for at the time the incident occurred.
How is the Severity of My Injury Assessed if I am a Contractor?
All accident at work claims are treated as unique and the amount of compensation you may receive would depend on several factors. You would need to be thoroughly examined by a doctor or other medical professional who would write an official report detailing the extent and severity of the injuries you sustained in an accident at work. This report would be part of the information needed when assessing your claim and would be an important factor when calculating the level of compensation you may receive in a successful accident at work claim.
What You Should Do When Injured at Work as a Self-employed Contractor?
If you are unlucky enough to be involved in an accident at work as a self-employed contractor whether your injuries slight or more severe, the first thing you should do is seek medical attention. Some injuries may seem minor at first, but you may have suffered serious internal injuries or the symptoms may only become apparent much later on. If your injuries are such that you are unable to report the accident to an employer or person in charge, you should ask a work colleague to do this on your behalf.
The evidence needed should you decide to file an accident at work claim even when working as a contractor is listed below:
- Details of where and when the accident occurred
- Details surrounding the circumstances of how the incident occurred
- Photos of where the accident happened
- Photos of your injuries and any damage caused to your possessions
- Witness statements and their contact details
- A medical report of the injuries you sustained which should be written before receiving any treatment
You should also ensure that the following procedure is followed should you have suffered an injury at work when working as a contractor for an employer:
- That the accident is reported to the person in charge
- That it is recorded in the accident report book if there is one and if there is not, you should write down details of the incident together with your injuries before sending this to the person in charge/employer keeping a copy back for your own records
- Make sure the accident is reported to RIDDOR should it be a “reportable incident”
What can be Claimed for After an Accident At Work as a Self-Employed Contractor?
As a self-employed contractor who suffers a workplace injury, there are certain things that you can include in an accident at work claim against the person you are working for at the time the incident occurred which are detailed below:
General damages – this is for the following:
- Any pain as well as suffering you endured
- Any physical injuries you sustained
- The mental anguish you had to cope with
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of career
- Difficulty finding another career
Special damages this is for the following:
- The expenses incurred for treatment and other medical services
- Travel costs which includes bus, train, car or taxi
- Loss of any income
- Loss of future earnings should you not be able to work again
- Care costs
Should I File an Accident at Work Claim as a Contractor?
If as a contractor you are involved in an accident at work when carrying out a job for a specific employer and you can prove that they are responsible for the injuries you sustained, you should discuss your situation with a solicitor who specialises in contractor accident at work claims. Having a solicitor go over the circumstances surrounding the accident that left you injured would help establish liability and whether you have a strong case against a third party.
It is always worth discussing your case with a solicitor because your injuries may be such that they prevent you from working whether for a shorter or longer period of time. This could put you under tremendous financial pressure, more especially because as a self-employed contractor, you rely on being able to work in order to pay bills. Your injuries may so catastrophic that you need constant care for the remainder of your life.
The amount of compensation you may be awarded in a successful contractor accident at work claim, could go a long way in alleviating all the financial worries you find yourself having to face through no fault of your own. It is also worth noting that all employers are legally required to have valid liability insurance in place and as such the amount of compensation you receive would be paid by an employer’s insurers and not be taken out of an employer’s profits.
Is There a Time Limit for Reporting an Accident at Work?
As with all work-related personal injury claims, the statutory time limit is 3 years from the date of an accident or the date you were diagnosed as suffering from a health issue or medical condition that you developed as a direct result of having worked as a contractor for a specific employer. It is also worth noting that should you have been injured or exposed to any hazardous substances when you were under the age of 18, the time limit begins from the time you turn 18 years of age.
You may think that having a 3 year time limit is long enough to wait before filing a claim, but it is worth noting that gathering all the information and evidence needed to prove a contractor accident at work claim can be a long drawn out and complex legal process. As such, it is best to seek advice as early as possible to avoid running out of time in which case your claim would not be valid and you could lose out on being awarded a level of accident at work compensation you deserve.
How Does a No Win No Fee Agreement Work?
Most solicitors work with clients on a No Win No Fee basis which takes all the worries of paying upfront fees and retainers off the table. A solicitor would first offer a no obligation, initial consultation which is free of charge. This allows them the opportunity of assessing whether as a contractor, you have a valid and substantial claim against a negligent employer.
Once a solicitor has established you have a strong claim, they would ask you to sign a legal contract which sets out the terms and conditions of working with clients on a No Win No Fee basis and the percentage you would have to pay for their services, but only if your contractor accident at work claim is successful. This is known as a “success fee” which is deducted by the solicitor directly from the amount of compensation you are awarded in a successful claim whether your case goes before a judge or an employer’s insurers settle out of court.
You would have nothing to pay for the legal services you have received should your contractor accident at work claim not be successful because the solicitor took on this risk when signing the Conditional Fee Agreement with you.
Do I Need Help From A Personal Injury Solicitor?
Because accident at work claims are often hotly disputed by employers and their insurers, as a contractor, it is far better to seek legal advice and representation from a solicitor who specialises in work-related claims. The reason being that gathering all the information and evidence needed to prove and strengthen a claim can take a lot of time and effort. A solicitor would be in a better position of knowing what an employer’s insurers might require and communicate directly with them which could speed up what is often a long, drawn out legal process.
A solicitor would also have access to legal libraries which provides essential information on previous contractor accident at work cases. The information a solicitor is able to gather can then be used as a basis for your claim. Again, this would help strengthen any claims you may have that an employer was negligent in their duty to keep you safe from harm and injury while you were carrying out contract work for them.