If you are a zero-hours contract and you are injured in an accident at work due the negligence of an employer or other third party, you might be entitled to claim compensation. If your claim meets the necessary criteria, you could receive accident at work compensation for the losses and damages you suffered by filing a personal injury claim against an employer, to find out more, please read on.
What is the Definition of a Zero-hour Contract?
Sometimes known as a “casual contract”, a zero-hour contract refers to when you provide casual work for an employer. It is an agreement between an employer and you where the employer does not have to guarantee that you are provided with regular work and you are under no obligation to take on the work when it is available.
If you are self-employed, you may accept to work for an employer on a zero-hours contract. However, your status as a self-employed worker does not change if you do accept the work. Should you not be “self-employed” and you agree to work for an employer under a zero-hours contract, you would be classed as an employee of the business, company or organisation or you could be categorised as a “worker”.
How Do I Establish My Employment Status Under a Zero-hours Contract?
When it comes to establishing an employer’s responsibility towards you when you work for them under a zero-hours contract, it would depend on how much influence an employer has over you and the work you are tasked to carry out for them under the terms of your contract. The same applies to employment agencies. You have “worker’s rights” when it comes to an employer taking “reasonable care” of a working environment and the premises you work in which is covered under the Occupier’s Liability Act 1957.
As such, whether your “employee rights” have been established or not, if you were injured in an accident at work and you are under a zero-hours contract, you should discuss your case with a solicitor who specialises in this type of claim. You could be entitled to seek compensation from an employer because under the government’s “Department for Business, Energy and Industry Strategy”, the following applies:
- That all workers who are employed on a zero-hours contract have statutory “employment rights”
It also states that no exceptions exist and that any person working on a zero-hours contract who is classed as a “worker” shall be entitled to receive the “National Minimum Wage” and should receive annual leave and be given adequate rest breaks and should be protected from discrimination in the workplace.
When your employment status changes from being a “worker” to becoming an “employee”, you would be entitled to further employment rights. This includes statutory notice rights. An employer may also request that you accept working a specified number of hours which would be part of and written into your employment contract.
What Happens if I Am Injured in a Accident at Work and I Am on a Zero-hours Contract?
Should you be involved in an accident at work and you suffer injuries because of employer negligence, you could be entitled to seek compensation by filing a personal injury claim no matter what type of employment contract you agreed to work under. An employer must ensure the following in the workplace:
- That the environment you work in is kept clean, tidy and safe
- That you are provided with adequate training to carry out a job safely
- That all tools, machinery and equipment is kept in good working order
- That adequate personal protective equipment is provided and is kept in good condition
If an employer fails in any of the above and the conditions you are asked to work in are unsafe which results in you suffering injuries, just because you are on a zero-hours contract should not prevent you from seeking compensation by filing an accident at work claim against the employer.
If I File an Accident at Work Claim, Would I Be Putting My Zero-hours Contract at Risk?
The laws and regulations are there to ensure that all workers are treated fairly in the workplace, regardless of the type of employment contract that is entered into with an employer.
An employer would be acting unlawfully if they choose to fire or suspend you because you choose to file a personal injury claim against them. An employer is bound by the Terms of an employment contract which means that should you be fit to work and your contract stands, you cannot be fired because you decide to seek compensation from them.
Should your injuries be such that you have to take time off, the terms of a contract would still apply no matter what reason exists for you having to take time off work. It is worth noting that should an employer make life difficult for you because you have filed a work-related personal injury claim against them, you have the right to look for work elsewhere even if you remain under contract with the employer in question. The reason being that the “Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act’ does not permit any exclusivity clauses or any terms when it comes to zero-hours contracts.
What Should I Do Following an Accident at Work If I Am on a Zero-hours Contract?
Should you be injured in an accident at work and you are under a zero-hours contract, you should do the following:
- Report the accident to the employer or person in charge as soon as possible following the incident
- Make sure the incident is recorded in the work’s accident report book or sent to an employer by some other official means whether in a personal email or written letter
- Collect names of all witnesses and their contact details
- Take photos of the injuries you sustained and where the workplace accident occurred
- Record details of the circumstances leading up to the accident at work
- Make sure the accident and your injuries were reported to RIDDOR should the incident have been a “reportable accident”
The more information you can provide of the workplace accident in which you were injured, the better because it would strengthen you claim and would help an accident at work lawyer build your case against an employer. The stronger you claim is, the more chance of a solicitor representing you on a No Win No Fee basis too.
What Are My Rights When it Comes to Being Protected at Work?
Under Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, all employers must provide you with adequate training so that you are able to carry out the jobs you are tasked to do as safely as possible. Employers must also ensure that all working practices are safe and that machinery, tools and equipment are maintained in good working order.
Should an employer fail to do any of the above and you are injured in a workplace accident, you have the right to seek compensation even if you are on a zero-hours contract.
What Happens if an Employer Ignores the Regulations and Laws?
Not all employers fully appreciate or understand their legal responsibilities in the workplace. Some employers even ignore them with the end result being that a working environment may not be as safe as it should be for you to be in. If you are injured in an accident at work and an employer decides to fire you or force you to leave by treating you detrimentally or unfairly, they would be acting unlawfully. The law is very clear in this matter and should this be the case, you could be entitled to file a constructive or unfair dismissal claim against an employer on top of an accident at work claim.
Who Pays Accident at Work Compensation If I Win My Case?
All employers in the UK are legally obliged to hold valid liability insurance which covers accidents and injuries as well as work-related medical conditions that you may suffer while working for an employer. When you make a personal injury claim against an employer, it is the insurance provider who deals with all aspects of a case from the start through to the finish. In short, it is the insurance company that pays the accident at work compensation you are awarded whether this is through a court or in an out of court settlement.
It is also worth noting that should your employer have gone out of business or ceased trading, you would still be entitled to seek compensation for workplace injuries you sustained because the liability insurance provider would still be operating. An experienced accident at work lawyer would contact the insurance provider on your behalf when you decide to file a work-related personal injury claim against an employer who is no longer trading.
What if There is No Record of the Accident, Would My Personal Injury Claim be Valid?
An employer has a duty to make a record of all workplace accidents and injuries that employees may sustain while in their employment. Should an employer fail to record the incident in an accident report book, you may still be able to file a claim for compensation although your case may be weaker than if there was an official accident report. You would have to provide as much evidence as possible to strengthen your case which an accident at work solicitor would use to build on. The rule of thumb is that the more evidence you can provide, the better the chance of you successfully filing an accident at work claim against a negligent employer.
Is An Employer Legally Obliged to Keep an Accident Report Book?
Employers and other people who are in “control” of premises are legally required to keep records of workplace accidents, injuries, dangerous occurrences and work-related medical conditions as stated by Health and Safety Executive regulations. With this said, the records of workplace incidents can be kept other than in an accident report book although this is the preferred method. The reason being that keeping an accident report book meets the Data Protection Act requirements.
It is also worth noting that some workplace accidents are reportable to RIDDOR – Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 – and the same applies to any incident where a worker is obliged to take more than 7 consecutive days off work if they are injured in an accident at work.
As previously mentioned, accident report books are the preferred method of recording workplace injuries and accidents for the following reasons:
- The time, date and place is officially recorded
- The personal information of all persons involved are recorded
- A brief account of the accident is recorded
- Details of treatment offered and advice that was given is recorded
It is worth noting that an employer is required to keep records of workplace accidents and injuries for a minimum of three years.
How Do I Prove an Accident at Work Claim?
For your accident at work claim to be valid, you would need to do the following:
- Provide evidence of when the workplace incident occurred
- Provide evidence of where the accident at work happened
- Provide evidence of how the incident that left you injured occurred
- Provide evidence of employer negligence and liability
Can I Provide Other Evidence and Proof to Strengthen an Accident at Work Claim?
Not having a record of an accident at work could in itself be deemed negligent on the part of an employer. However, an incident may not have been recorded by mistake because of the seriousness of an accident and the injuries sustained. Should this be the case, a report can be logged as soon as possible afterwards which is perfectly acceptable. Other proof and evidence that can strengthen your claim against an employer could include the following:
- Medical reports detailing the extent of your injuries and even any minor symptoms you may have suffered
- CCTV footage of the accident if available. An employer must provide this when they are requested to and they should do so in a timely manner
What Can I Include in My Accident at Work Claim If I am on a Zero-hours Contract?
Accident at work compensation is broken down into two separate categories which are as follows:
- General damages are awarded to compensate an injured party for all the suffering, pain and loss of amenity they had to endure through no fault of your own having sustained injuries in workplace accident. It is worth noting that the level of personal injury compensation you may be awarded would depend on several things which includes the severity of your injuries and how they impact your future life. As such, it is harder to calculate general damages and offer an estimate on how much you may receive if your case is upheld
- Special damages are awarded to compensate an injured party for out of pocket expenses incurred as a result of having been involved in an accident at work. This includes medical expenses, travel costs, care costs and all other expenses you had to pay out because you were injured in a workplace accident. It is easier to both calculate and estimate the amount of special damages you would be awarded but you would need to provide evidence of your expenditure in the form of official receipts which an accident at work lawyer would present when calculating the level of special damages you may receive
Should I Sue My Employer If I Am Injured in an Accident at Work?
Anyone who is injured in the workplace has the right to seek compensation for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity they had to endure, providing their case meets the necessary criteria attached to work-related personal injury claims against employers.
Having to take time off work means not bringing in your normal wage which could make it harder for you to pay necessary bills and other financial outlays. This can make an already difficult situation harder to cope with at a time when you should be focussing on recovering from the injuries you sustained in an accident at work. As such, filing a claim for compensation from an employer would help you cope allowing you to concentrate on recovering and getting back to work.
An accident at work solicitor would make sure that you have gathered all the necessary information relating to your case and would work hard to ensure that you receive the level of personal injury compensation you would be entitled to. An experienced solicitor would make sure you are compensated for all the expenses you had to deal with and would ensure that you receive ongoing treatment and therapy should this be necessary.
Liability insurance is a legal requirement that all employers must abide by and as such, when you make an accident at work claim and seek compensation from your employer for injuries you sustained, it is the insurance company that deals with your case and this includes negotiating the compensation you would be awarded. It is also noteworthy that 95% of personal injury claims never get to court with insurance providers preferring to negotiate out of court settlements.
What Is The Time Limit to Making an Accident at Work Claim?
There is a statutory time limit that must be respected if you are thinking about seeking compensation for a workplace injury you sustained. Failing to respect the 3 year time limit could mean you lose out on receiving compensation even if you have all the required evidence of employer negligence. However, the time the statutory 3 years begins depends on the circumstances surrounding an accident at work which is detailed below:
- Three years from the date you were injured in an accident at work
- Three years from your 18th birthday if you were injured before this date
- Three years from the time you were diagnosed with a medical condition that is directly linked to the injuries you sustained in a workplace accident
What Are the Advantages of Having a Solicitor Work on an Accident at Work Claim?
Accident at work lawyers have vast experience in handling and winning claims for employees who are injured at work. They have the ability to access legal libraries which they can reference when researching your work-related personal injury claim. However, one of the main benefits of contacting a lawyer when you want to seek compensation from an employer, is that they would arrange for a specialist or consultant to examine you and the medical report produced would be used as the basis of general damages you could be awarded in a successful accident at work claim.
Other advantages include the following:
- A solicitor would agree to represent you on a No Win No Fee basis once they are happy that your claim against an employer is strong and that they can be held liable for the injuries you sustained
- There would be no upfront fee or any ongoing fees to find either
- A solicitor would let you know early on how much personal injury compensation you could be awarded in a successful claim
- The solicitor would ensure that pre-action protocols and the 3 year time limit is respected
- A solicitor would work hard on your behalf to ensure that you are awarded a level of accident at work compensation that suits the injuries and hardship you had to endure
- The solicitor would make sure you receive interim payments should a final settlement take longer to reach
- A solicitor would arrange that you receive the right kind of ongoing therapy should this be necessary
Conditional Fee Agreements (CFAs) allow solicitors to work on your behalf and you would only have to pay an agreed fee known as a “success fee” when you receive the personal injury compensation you claimed for the workplace injuries you sustained. If your case is not successful, because you signed a No Win No Fee agreement with the solicitor, there would be nothing to pay for the legal representation you received.
If you would like to find out more information about the Occupier’s Liability Act 1957, please click on the link below where you will find valuable information on what the law covers:
To find out more about the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act (SBEE), please click on the link below: