If you were injured in an accident at work and the injuries you sustained made a pre-existing condition that you suffer from worse, you could be entitled to seek compensation from an employer. However, proving that an injury you sustained through no fault of your own while carrying out a job an employer tasked you to do, aggravated a pre-existing illness or medical condition, can be more challenging. as such, you should seek legal advice sooner rather than later from a lawyer who specialises in this type of personal injury claim against an employer.
Seeking Independent Medical Advice is Essential
If an pre-existing medical condition or an illness you suffer from has been made worse by an injury you sustained in the workplace, it is essential that you seek independent medical advice as early as possible. This would be to determine that the workplace accident did in fact aggravate your medical condition. The report that an independent medical professional provides would be invaluable proof of your claim against an employer and would help establish their liability.
It is worth noting that the cost of seeking independent medical treatment can be included in your accident at work claim and as such all receipts must be kept which includes the cost of the medical treatment/therapy and travel expenses that you incurred.
The longer you leave it to seek medical attention for a pre-existing condition that you believe has deteriorated due to being injured in a workplace accident, the more challenging it can be to prove you case. If you are uncertain on how best to proceed, you should seek legal advice from an accident at work solicitor who would offer essential advice on how to proceed. The solicitor would also arrange for you to be examined by a consultant or specialist with the end goal being to strengthen your case.
What is the Eggshell Skull Rule?
The Eggshell Skull Rule is also referred to as the Thin Skull Rule, refers to a legal principle which permits a defendant, in this case an employer to be held responsible in certain situations for injuries sustained in the workplace that aggravate pre-existing medical conditions. The situations that are covered by this legal principle include the following:
- Because a defendant (employer) was negligent in their duty to keep employees safe from being injured which as a result aggravated a pre-existing illness or medical condition
Although the rule applies to injuries to the head, the principle has successfully been applied to other personal and accident at work claims. The reason being that the “Eggshell Skull Rule” as it stands means that a “defendant” has to accept the “victim” of an injury as they are found. An example being as follows:
- An employee in a factory works with hot molten metal and a work colleague drops something into heated metal. This causes it to splash which land on the factory worker’s lip resulting in an extremely severe burn injury. The splashed molten metal also lands on the factory worker’s skin which happens to be pre-malignant tissue. This causes the factory worker to become seriously ill and suffering from cancer. Although the work colleague could not have known that the splashed molten metal would cause the factory worker such a serious injury and to develop cancer, an employer could still be deemed responsible under the Eggshell Skull Rule
What is the Definition of Pre-existing Medical Condition or Illness?
You may or may not know that you suffer from a pre-existing medical condition and as such when you are examined by a medical professional following an accident at work that leaves you injured, the doctor who examines you may state in their report that you do indeed suffer from a pre-existing medical condition and that this has been aggravated by the injuries you sustained in the workplace.
Even if the pre-existing condition you suffer from has never caused you pain and discomfort in the past, you can still file an accident at work claim against an employer to seek compensation for the injuries you sustained. Your employer may choose to deny liability stating that your injuries were pre-existing. As such, it is best that you contact an accident at work lawyer who would investigate your case before advising you on how best to go forward and if you should seek compensation because your employer was negligent in their duty when you were in the workplace.
How to File an Accident at Work Claim Which Accelerates the Onset of a Medical Condition/Illness
If the injuries you sustain in a workplace accident accelerate the onset of an illness or medical condition, you could still file for compensation from an employer. However, it is best to seek the advice of a solicitor who specialises in this type of work-related personal injury claim as early as possible.
An example of this type of accident at work claim is detailed below:
- If you suffer hearing loss having worked in a loud and noisy environment for a number of years. A doctor may find that you would sustain some hearing loss as you grew older, but that the noisy environment you worked in accelerated your loss of hearing even more
Should this be the case, the compensation you may be awarded in a successful work-related personal injury claim would be based on your “loss of amenity” between the early onset of your hearing loss and the time you would have suffered some hearing impairment due to your age. With this said, calculating just how much personal injury compensation you may be awarded in special damages could prove challenging but can be easier if you are able to provide valuable medical proof of your injuries and as soon as possible following a workplace accident.
What Losses and Damages Can I Include in an Accident at Work Claim?
You can include specific losses and damages in an accident at work claim for compensation for injuries you sustained through no fault of your own. However, the amount you may be awarded would depend on the extent of your injuries, how your life has been negatively impacted and whether your ability to work has been affected. With this said, personal injury compensation is divided into two distinct categories, namely general damages and special damages. These are detailed below:
- General damages – you would be awarded general damages in a successful accident at work claim to compensate you for any injuries you sustained while you were at work. This includes the pain, suffering as well as your loss of amenity which means the loss of enjoyment of things you used to do prior to being injured at work. It is harder to calculate the amount of personal injury compensation you may receive because it would depend on the severity of your injuries and how your life is impacted which includes your ability to carry out the job you used to do or work again
Special damages – you would receive special damages which would compensate you for all the expenses you paid out as a direct result of having been injured in the workplace. As such, you would need to provide evidence of this expenditure in the form of receipts for the following:
- Travel expenses
- Medical expenses
- Loss of wages and future earnings (this includes any bonuses and other benefits you may have missed out on due to having been injured in a workplace accident that prevented you from working for any length of time)
- Other expenses that are directly linked to the injuries you sustained in an accident at work
Should I File an Accident at Work Claim For Compensation Against My Employer?
Your rights as a employee are highly protected which includes when you sustain an injury in an accident at work. As such, you have a legal right to seek compensation from an employer providing that your case meets specific requirements. Firstly, that the accident at work happened in the last three years and secondly, that you were not responsible for the workplace injuries you sustained.
However, even being partly responsible for a workplace accident happening would not prevent you from filing an accident at work claim against an employer. The reason being that your case could involve “contributory negligence” on the part of your employer. Should this be the case, the amount you would be awarded if your personal injury claim is upheld would be less than the amount you would receive if your employer was fully responsible through negligence on their part.
Liability insurance is a legal requirement that all employers must abide by. As such, when you seek compensation for injuries sustained in the workplace, the insurance provider manages all aspects of the case and this includes accident at work compensation payouts. The insurer would handle your claim from the outset whether your employer admits liability or not.
With this in mind, it is far better to seek legal advice and legal representation sooner rather than later more especially as there are many legal pitfalls to negotiate which includes not only respecting the statutory 3 year time limit associated with personal injury claims but also the pre-action protocols that must be followed when filing an accident at work claim against a negligent employer.
Do I Have Specific Rights if I Am Injured in an Accident at Work?
Your rights as previously mentioned, are highly protected in the UK. Should you be injured in a workplace accident, you have the legal right to the following:
- To file an accident at work claim against an employer without having to worry about losing your job or being treated unfairly
- To seek an acceptable level of compensation for the injuries you sustained in an accident at work
You have the right to seek legal advice should an employer treat you unfairly or detrimentally because you choose to seek compensation for workplace injuries you sustained. If you are threatened in any way with redundancy or the sack, an employment lawyer would provide essential legal advice on how to file further legal action against your employer and this includes a detriment claim and an unfair dismissal claim.
What Are My Employer’s Responsibilities in the Workplace?
All employers throughout the UK are legally required to ensure that employees are kept safe from injury and harm while they are in their employment. Employers must make sure that a working environment is kept safe, clean and tidy. Other responsibilities that your employer must abide by include the following:
- That all Health and Safety Regulations and other laws are respected
- That employees are provided with adequate training so they can carry out their jobs as safely as possible
- That employees are made aware of working practices and procedures which must be adhered to
- That the correct PPE (personal protective equipment) is available when employees need to use it so they can do a job as safely as possible
- That all machinery, tools and other equipment used in a working environment is correctly maintained and regularly serviced
- That risk assessments are carried out in the workplace on a regular basis and that hazards are identified before measures are put in place to minimise harm and injury to workers
If your employer fails to abide by Health and Safety regulations and other laws, or they choose to ignore any of them which results in you suffering an injury in the workplace, you have the right to seek compensation. Your employer could be deemed responsible because they failed in their duty to keep you safe from injury and harm while carrying any work on their premises or offsite for them. This includes if an workplace injury results in making an pre-existing medical condition worse.
What is the Time Limit I Have to File an Accident at Work Claim Against My Employer?
Personal injury claims must be filed within the statutory 3 year time limit for them to be valid. However, the circumstances surrounding an accident at work does have a bearing on when the 3 year time limit begins which is explained below:
- The time limit begins from the date you were injured in the workplace
- The time limit begins when you turn 18 years old should the workplace accident have happened prior to this
- The time limit begins from the date of an official diagnosis that you are suffering from a health issue linked to the workplace injury you sustained
Could I Lose My Job If I Claim Compensation for an Accident at Work Injury?
Under UK law, an employer cannot simply fire you because you seek compensation for injuries you sustained while carrying out a job you were tasked to do. An employer must have another valid and legally acceptable reason for sacking you if you file an accident at work claim. If they do threaten you with the door or redundancy, a lawyer who specialises in employment law may recommend that you file further claims against them for acting unlawfully against you.
Does Working With a Solicitor on an Accident at Work Claim Offer Any Benefits?
Accident at work solicitors have the necessary experience when it comes to representing defendants in work-related personal injury claims. They are aware of the complex legal procedure that must be adhered to which includes following pre-action protocols. Solicitors also have vast experience when it comes to communicating with liability insurance providers which in itself can speed up what can be a lengthy, complicated procedure and are aware of the legal pitfalls that can lead to a personal injury claim not being upheld.
Other benefits and advantages of contacting an accident at work lawyer when you are thinking about seeking compensation from an employer for injuries you suffered while at work, include the following:
- An appointment with a specialist or consultant would be arranged on your behalf and the medical report that is provided would be used to calculate the amount of general damages you may be awarded in a successful accident at work claim against your employer
- Once a solicitor establishes that your claim is valid and that an employer could be held responsible for the workplace accident that left you injured, they would represent you without having to request an upfront fee for doing so. This would involve signing a No Win No Fee agreement otherwise referred to as a Conditional Fee Agreement
- Accident at work solicitors have the knowledge base required to communicate with insurance providers and can reference legal libraries when necessary
- All pre-action protocols and the 3 year personal injury claim time limit would be respected
- A solicitor would inform you as soon as possible of the amount of accident at work compensation you may be awarded in a successful case
- Should your claim be complicated due to having suffered traumatic injuries, the solicitor would ensure that interim payments are negotiated until a final accident at work settlement can be reached
- The amount of compensation you are awarded would be professionally negotiated on your behalf by a solicitor to ensure that it is acceptable and fair
- The solicitor would ensure that you receive specialist treatment should this be necessary on an ongoing basis
Because accident at work claims tend to be complicated with many legal pitfalls to negotiate, it is essential that no errors are made from the outset which could negate a personal injury compensation claim.
Would a No Win No Fee Solicitor Work on My Accident at Work Claim?
When contacting a solicitor, you would initially be offered a no obligation consultation which is free of charge. This allows the lawyer to determine whether you have a valid accident at work claim and whether your employer could be held responsible for any injuries you sustained. Once this has been established, a solicitor would request that you sign a No Win No Fee agreement and once you enter into this legal contract, it allows the solicitor to begin investigating on your claim without having to request that you pay them a retainer otherwise known as an upfront fee.
As your case progresses, you would not have to pay any ongoing fees either, the only time that you would have to pay the “success fee” which is the agreed percentage of the total amount you receive in accident at work compensation, is when you win your claim against an employer. The “success fee” is deducted from the amount you are awarded in a successful work-related accident at work claim against an employer who was found liable for the injuries you sustained.
No Win No Fee agreements were first introduced to allow people who are injured through no fault of their own but because of negligence on the part of a third party, seek compensation for the injuries they sustained. If you are injured in the workplace through employer negligence and there is strong evidence that this is the case, a No Win No Fee solicitor would agree to represent you and would take on your accident at work claim on this basis.
If you are not sure of your worker’s rights and would like more information on the subject, please click on the link below:
If you were injured in the workplace and you were under the age of 18 and would like more information on your rights, please click on the link below: