When working with a firm of solicitors on a No Win No Fee basis and your accident at work claim is upheld, it is your employer’s insurance provider who handles every aspect of the case, and this includes the compensation you are awarded in a successful claim. Because legal advice and representation is expensive, many workers and people who sustained injuries or who developed work-related health issues, could not afford the cost. As such, an agreement known as a Conditional Fee Agreement was set in place so that anyone who is injured in the workplace can seek compensation from an employer by filing an accident at work claim, providing specific criteria can be met.
Definition of a No Win No Fee Structure
Known as Conditional Fee Agreements or CFAs, No Win No Fee contracts that are entered into by solicitors and their clients, allow a solicitor to take on accident at work claims and other personal injury claims, without requesting a retainer or upfront payment. These agreements also mean that you would not have to pay the solicitor should your case be lost. No Win No Fee agreements were set in place following a decision by the government to restrict legal aid to people involved in legal disputes.
Prior to April 1st, 2013 the success fee that was payable on successful claims used to be paid by the losing party. However, thanks to changes to the system that took place on this date, the success fee is now settled by the party who wins the case which is taken out of the damages and compensation that is awarded on a successful claim.
A solicitor should only take a maximum of 25% of the compensation you are awarded in a successful accident at work claim. This percentage includes any VAT that is payable but it excludes any future loss or care costs. It is worth noting that in a successful case, expenses are generally paid by the losing party although there are exceptions to this rule.
Having entered into a Conditional Fee Agreement with a solicitor, any legal fees incurred would not have to be paid should your accident at work claim not be successful. However, disbursements/expenses which includes the following would be covered by an insurance that is taken out on your behalf:
• Court costs
• Expert fees
• Specialist fees which includes costs for medical experts
It is worth noting that some people who file accident at work claims have insurance policies in place that cover all of the above disbursements and therefore do not require any extra cover.
Working With a No Win No Fee Solicitor
Before a No Win No Fee solicitor would agree to take on your case, they would need to assess your claim to establish whether an employer was negligent in their duty to keep you safe from harm in the workplace. This would be done by carrying out a preliminary assessment during a no obligation, consultation which is typically free of charge. In some instances the consultation can be carried out on the phone, but more complex accident at work claims would require making an appointment with a solicitor in person.
Once a solicitor determines that you have a strong case and it can be established that your injuries were sustained through no fault of your own but either through employer negligence or because a work colleague was responsible, they would agree to represent you on a No Win No Fee basis. In short, a solicitor would fully investigate your accident at work claim without having to request an upfront payment from you or any other ongoing payments as your case progresses.
A well-established solicitor with vast experience in accident at work claims, would be able to offer you full “protection” should your claim not be upheld. This means that should your case not be successful, you would not have to pay a “success fee” to the solicitor for the legal services they provided from when they took on your case right through to the end.
Can I Appeal an Unsuccessful Accident at Work Claim?
It is possible to file an appeal against an unsuccessful accident at work claim but it can be a long-drawn, complex and expensive legal process. As such, it is best to discuss things with a solicitor before proceeding. The reason being that the circumstances surrounding your case would have to be taken into consideration before determining whether the outcome of your accident at work claim was acceptable or not.
It is also noteworthy, that the majority of personal injury claims are settled before they go before a judge and as such, appealing a decision is not that straight forward when it involves a settlement that was under the amount you hoped to receive for the injuries sustained or work-related health issue you developed.
Under UK law, an appeal can be lodged on an unsuccessful personal injury claim providing the following criteria can be met:
• A case was dismissed because liability cannot be proved
• The damages and compensation awarded was less than it should have been
It would be necessary to seek permission to appeal a ruling which allows a court the chance to turn down permissions on appeals that do not have any merit or chance of success. As such, when requesting permission to appeal a ruling, you would have to prove that a decision was unjustly reached either through a procedural error or some other sort of mistake on the part of a judge.
What Can I Include in an Accident at Work Claim?
Should your case be successful, you can include the following in your claim for compensation against a negligent employer:
- General damages – these are harder to calculate and every case is unique but the amount awarded in a successful claim covers how the injuries you sustained through no fault of your own negatively impact your day to day life and the length of time you have off work in order to make a recovery. Should your injuries be such that you require ongoing treatment which means you would not be able to work again, this would be factored in to the amount of compensation you receive
- Special damages – these are easier to calculate as they are based on “actual” expenditures and costs you incur as a direct result of the injuries you sustained in a workplace accident or due to work-related medical condition you developed. Special damages cover all your travel expenses, medical expenses and other out of pocket costs you had to pay out. As such, it is crucial to keep hold of all receipts and records of these costs when filing an accident at work claim against a negligent employer
Should I Sue My Employer For the Injuries I Sustained in an Accident at Work?
All employers must, by law, have liability insurance (EL) in place to cover injuries sustained by workers and other people in the workplace. The insurance must also cover any claims that are health-related and accidents caused by other employees that result in you suffering any kind of injury while carrying out your normal daily duties. As such, you have every right to sue an employer for damages and seek compensation, providing you can meet specific criteria which are listed below:
- That the incident occurred in the last 3 years
- Your injuries were sustained through no fault of your own
- That a third party was responsible for the accident at work, whether a negligent employer or through the error of a work colleague
If you can meet all of the above, you should discuss the circumstances surrounding your case with a lawyer who specialises in accident at work claims would offer to work with you on a No Win No Fee basis once it has been established you have a strong case against your employer.
What are My Workers Rights Following an Accident at Work?
As an employee, you have specific rights which are protected by law and this includes when you are injured in a workplace accident. These rights include the following:
• That you can seek compensation for the injuries you sustained
• That your job is safe even if you file an accident at work claim against your employer
What are the Benefits of Working With a Solicitor on an Accident at Work Claim?
There are a lot of benefits to working with an accident at work lawyer when filing a claim against your employer. You may find that your employer disputes your claim that the accident could have been avoided had they not been negligent in their duty to keep you safe in the workplace. Work-related claims can be complex legal processes and it is important to get things right from the outset.
A solicitor with vast experience and access to legal libraries would ensure that all the evidence needed is available and would carry out an in-depth investigation as to whether your employer could be held liable for your injuries.
An accident at work lawyer would also handle all the correspondence between your employer’s insurance provider which can help speed up the legal process considerably. When it comes to negotiating a level of compensation for the injuries you sustained, a solicitor would also ensure you are awarded acceptable damages whether your case is settled in court or you are offered an “out of court” settlement, bearing in mind that around 95% of personal injury claims are settled before they go before a judge.
Another big advantage of working with a solicitor on an accident at work claim, is that they can also arrange for you to have specialist treatment and rehab, should your injuries be such that you need them to help you through your recovery. This includes physiotherapy, osteopathy and any other ongoing specialist treatments you may require all of which could get you back to where you were before you were injured in an accident at work.
Is There a Time Limit to Making an Accident at Work Claim?
You must file an accident at work claim within 3 years of having sustained any sort of injury or developed a work-related medical condition. An accident at work time limit begins from the moment you are injured or the date when you were first diagnosed as suffering from a health issue. However, if you sustained an injury before your 18th birthday, the 3 year time limit starts from the day you turn 18 years of age.
Can My Employer Fire Me For Filing a Claim?
You cannot lose your job just because you make a claim for compensation against your employer. There must be another “good” reason other than the fact you have filed an accident at work claim for your employer to sack you. If they do fire you for no good reason, you should discuss your case with a solicitor who specialises in employment law because the chances are you would be entitled to file an unfair dismissal claim against your boss too.
Would a Solicitor Work on a No Win No Fee Basis on My Claim?
As previously mentioned, once an accident at work lawyer has determined that you have strong case against an employer who could be deemed liable for the injuries you sustained, they would offer to work on you case on a No Win No Fee basis. This would mean that you would not have to pay a retainer or any ongoing fees for them to legally represent you in an accident at work claim.
The only time you would have to pay a “success fee” to a solicitor is when your case is successful and the percentage you agreed to pay would be deducted from the amount you receive in compensation. Should your case not be upheld, the “success fee” would not be payable because the cost of the legal representation you received would be covered by the Conditional Fee Agreement you signed with the solicitor who represented you in an accident at work claim.