There are many ways that you could be injured in an accident at work. One of which is to get trapped by something, whether it is because a shelving or racking system fell on you, or because you were hit by a moving object or vehicle that crushed you. Statistics show that over 10 workers are fatally injured after being trapped after something at work.
If you were involved in an accident at work that involved something falling on you, it may be possible to file for compensation for the injuries you sustained providing you can meet certain criteria. These are that the incident occurred in the last 3 years and that a third party was responsible. To find out more about claims on injuries sustained because you were trapped by something in an accident at work, please read on.
What Are The Most Common Trapped By Something Collapsing Accidents at Work?
As previously touched upon, accidents at work involving racking, shelving and pallet systems are responsible for many workers being injured some of which are fatal accidents. However, employees who are tasked on a daily basis to move items around a work area, are also at risk of being trapped by something that collapses on them or because they are trapped by a moving vehicle like a forklift. Some of the most reported accidents where employees are trapped by something in the workplace include the following:
- When a racking, pallet or shelving system collapses
- When items from racking, pallet and shelving systems fall onto employees
- When loading or unloading goods and other items from a racking, pallet or shelving system
- When loading or unloading goods from vehicles
Because goods and other items that are stacked in a work environment tend to be large and therefore heavy, when any fall you may be trapped and injured. The injuries you sustain can be anything from cuts and bruises to more serious damage which includes broken and crushed bones as well as severe head injuries. Accidents that involved racking and shelving as well as pallet systems, often happen for the following reasons:
- A poorly constructed racking, shelving or pallet system is being used in the workplace
- A system is constructed of non-approved materials that are of inferior quality
- Improper use and handling procedures when moving goods around a work area
- Stacking items incorrectly or far too high
- When damaged shelving, racking or pallets are used in the workplace
- When a stacking system is not suitable for the working environment
Would My Trapped By Something Collapsing Claim Be Valid?
In order for a claim for injuries sustained when trapped by something in an accident at work to be upheld by a court or your employer’s insurers should they offer to settle your claim out of court, you would need to provide as much evidence as possible. Whether you work in an office, shop, supermarket, warehouse or other area, you need to take as many photos of where the accident occurred, of the item or items that collapsed on you or the vehicle that trapped you when you came into contact with it.
If items or good fell on you from a shelving, racking or pallet system, you should take photos of the system to identify any damage or incorrect stacking that was the cause of your accident at work. You would also need to provide proof of the following:
- The extent of the injuries you sustained. You should have photos of your injuries before you receive any treatment
- Video evidence of the accident if CCTV footage of the working area is available
- Witness statements which should include their contact details
- Medical report of your injuries which should detail all the systems you are experiencing, including those that are minor
Once you have gathered as much information and evidence of the accident at work that resulted in you being trapped by something collapsing, you should discuss your case with a solicitor who has experience in handling this type of work-related personal injury claim.
What To Do If You Were Trapped By Something Collapsing in an Accident at Work
If you are unfortunate enough to be trapped by something collapsing at work, the first thing you must do is seek first-aid from the person who is designated to carry out initial treatments on employees who are hurt while at work. You should then seek medical attention whether you need to be picked up by an ambulance or make your own way to the Accident and Emergency department of a local hospital, bearing in mind that a work colleague should accompany you. You should also ensure you are given the following:
- An official medical report that provides a detailed record of the injuries you sustained and the symptoms you are experiencing both minor and more severe
It is essential that you focus on your injuries when you are involved in an accident at work. However, there are other things that need to be done when employees are hurt in the workplace which includes the following:
- Make sure the incident is correctly reported to the person in charge – if you are unable to do this because your injuries prevent you from doing so, make sure a work colleague reports the accident on your behalf
- Find out if the accident is “reportable” to RIDDOR and if it is, make sure this has been done
- Make sure your accident was correctly recorded in the accident report book and if there isn’t one, write down all the details of the incident and the extent of your injuries in a letter or personal email and send it to your employer, keeping a copy of the letter or email for your own personal accident at work report file
It is worth noting that you are perfectly entitled to see the record of the accident and your injuries that has been placed in an accident report book which allows you the chance to check that all the details are correct.
What Can I Include in My Claim?
Accident at work claims can be divided into two categories when it comes to calculating the amount of compensation you may receive should your case be upheld by a court, or your employer’s insurers offer you an out of court settlement. These are detailed as follows:
- General damages
- Special damages
When it comes to general damages, a court or an employer’s insurers would take into account how the injuries you sustained having been trapped by something collapsing on you affect your well-being, your ability to work and to carry out activities you enjoyed prior to being involved in an accident at work.
Special damages are easier to calculate because they are based on actual out of pocket expenses you incur as a direct result of being injured at work. You can, therefore, include all your travel expenses to and from treatments, the medical expenses you incurred and any other money you had to spend out due to your injuries. With this said, it is essential that you keep all your receipts which would be needed as proof of expenses in your accident at work claim.
Should I Sue My Employer if I am Trapped By Something Collapsing in an Accident at Work?
Anyone who suffers any sort of injury in the workplace, is perfectly within their rights to file for compensation for the pain, suffering and out of pocket expenses they incur providing the incident happened through no fault of their own in the last 3 years. This is the statutory time limit associated with accident at work claims. Having been injured could mean you are not able to work, whether this is for a few weeks or much longer. Should you have sustained severe injuries having been trapped by something collapsing on you, it may mean that you would need long-term, ongoing treatment. It may even mean you would not be able to work again.
As such, filing for compensation from a negligent employer would help you financially, taking the worry and stress of how to pay your bills and other living expenses off the table. It is worth noting that all employers in the UK are required by law to have employer’s liability insurance in place which is to cover the type of claim you are filing against them.
As such, once you begin an accident at work claim, it is handled by your employer’s insurers and it is the insurer who pays the compensation you are awarded in a successful claim. It is also note-worthy, that it is the insurer who pays for treatments you receive on the NHS when you case is successful.
What are My Workers Rights Following an Accident at Work?
All employees have certain rights when they are involved in any sort of accident at work that leaves them injured whether the injuries are slight or a lot more severe. As such, your rights following an accident that resulted in you being injured when you were trapped by something collapsing include the following:
- That your job is kept safe, even if you seek compensation for your injuries
- That you have every right to seek compensation for the injuries you sustained in the workplace
Are There Any Benefits to Working With a Solicitor on My Accident at Work Claim?
As with the majority of work-related injury claims, getting it right and providing all the relevant information and evidence at the outset, is essential. Personal injury claims can be complex and proving liability can be challenging which is why most people seek professional advice from solicitors who specialise in accident at work claims who have vast experience in employment law.
A solicitor also has access to all the relevant legal libraries which is essential when it comes to finding precedents which could go a long way in ensuring your claim is upheld by a court, bearing in mind that around 95% of personal injury claims are settled before they go before a judge.
Working with an accident at work lawyer, ensures you get things right from the outset and once your case has been assessed, the solicitor would typically offer to represent you on a No Win No Fee basis. This means they can begin work on your claim without having to request that you pay an upfront fee.
A solicitor would also offer you a no obligation, initial consultation which is free of charge. This allows them to listen to the circumstances surrounding your claim before determining whether you have a strong case against a negligent employer. A solicitor would also be able to organise treatments and therapies should your injuries be such that you require specialist medical care.
An accident at work lawyer would correspond with your employer’s insurance company and would make sure that all the relevant information pertaining to your accident at work are sent in a timely manner. This could help speed up what is often a complex legal process that insurers can draw out by not responding to correspondence they receive straight away. Should your employer dispute your claim, a solicitor would act on your behalf offering essential proof to validate your claim.
Is There a Time Limit to Accident at Work Claims?
You have 3 years to file an accident at work claim against a negligent employer. This statutory time limit must be adhered to for a claim to be valid. As such, it is best to start a claim as early as possible to avoid running out of time. The 3 year accident at work time limit is detailed below:
- 3 years from the date you were injured in an accident at work
- 3 years from the date you were diagnosed as suffering from a work-related injury that can be linked to the accident you suffered at work
- 3 years from the date you turned 18 years of age, should the accident at work that left you injured have occurred when you were under the age of 18
Can My Employer Fire Me For Filing a Claim?
You cannot be shown the door because you choose to file for compensation from an employer. Should your employer sack you without another “good” reason other than the fact you filed an accident at work claim against them, you should seek legal advice from a solicitor who specialises in employment law. The reason being that you could be entitled to also file an “unfair dismissal” claim against your employer too.
Would a Solicitor Work on a No Win No Fee Basis on My Claim?
Once an accident at work lawyer has determined you have strong case against a negligent employer, they would typically offer to work on your claim on a No Win No Fee basis. This takes all the financial pressure of paying for the legal advice and representation you need, off the table and allows a solicitor to begin work on your case straight away.
The only thing you would have to do for an accident at work solicitor to begin working on your claim, is sign a contract that sets out the Terms and Conditions of the agreement and the amount you agree to pay on a successful claim. This is referred to as a “success fee” because there would be nothing to pay for the legal services a solicitor provides, should your claim not be successful. The contract is known as a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) and it is a legally binding agreement that you enter into with a No Win No Fee solicitor.