Employers in the UK have a legal responsibility to keep you safe while you are working for them and carrying out jobs they task you to do. On top of this legal duty, your worker’s rights are extremely protected and this includes if you are injured in an accident at work. Should you suffer an injury at work, and your employer failed to keep you safe from harm, you could be entitled to seek compensation by filing a personal injury claim against them. To find out more information on your legal rights after an accident at work, please read on.
Accident at Work Statistics
According to statistics published by the Health and Safety Executive, 173 employees were involved in fatal accidents at work during the period from 2016 to 2017 with one of the main causes being workers being hit by a moving vehicle while carrying out their jobs.
The report also shows that some of the most common workplace accidents are as follows:
- Falling from a height
- Slip, trip and fall
- Struck by moving machinery/equipment
- Trapped under something that has collapsed, overturned
- Contact with electricity
During the same period from 2016 to 2017, there were 690,000 non-fatal accidents in the workplace all of which were “self-reported”. Other statistics include the following:
- 70,186 non-fatal accidents at work as reported to RIDDOR by employers
The Health and Safety Executive report also revealed that 30% of workplace accidents involved female employees and that 62% involved male workers.
Am I Protected When I Am at Work?
All workers and employees are protected by law in the workplace. There are many laws that employers must abide by to keep you safe from harm while you are at work, these are as follows:
- The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 covers workers in the England and Wales
- The Health and Safety at Work Order 1978 which covers workers in Northern Ireland
- Equality Act 2010
- Employment Rights Act 1996
If your employer chooses to ignore or they fail to abide any aspects of the law and legislation that is set in place to keep you safe from injury and you are involved n a workplace accident, you could be entitled to seek compensation from them. The reason being that they would be deemed liable due to their negligence.
Does My Employer Have Responsibilities in the Workplace?
As previously mentioned, your employer has a duty of care to keep you safe from harm and injury while you are in their employment. If you are involved in a workplace accident and sustain an injury, your employer could be deemed negligent if they ignored H&S and other regulations. As such, you would have the right to seek compensation for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity you had to endure providing your claim meets specific criteria.
Your employer’s responsibilities towards you as an employee in the workplace includes the following:
- To reduce any risks that could negatively impact your health and well-being while you are in their employment
- To ensure that the working environment is safe for you to work in whether onsite or offsite
- To ensure that adequate “warning signs” are erected if any dangers or hazards are present in the workplace
- To provide the correct PPE – personal protective equipment and to ensure that it is always well maintained and replaced when needed
- To introduce necessary precautions in hazardous working environments
- To prevent where possible and to control exposure to hazardous substances
- To ensure that equipment, tools and machinery are kept in good working order
- To ensure that all facilities lie toilets, washing facilities, rest areas, lighting, ventilation and working environment temperatures meet Health and Safety requirements
- To set up emergency plans in the event of an accident in the workplace
- To provide first-aid facilities
- To ensure that all materials in the workplace are stored, handled and used safely
- To ensure that all working procedures and practices are followed
- To carry out regular risk assessments of a working environment and to identify risks and hazards
Apart from all of the above, your employer must also ensure that you are allowed to take regular rest breaks and that your holiday entitlements are respected. An employer must also ensure that suitable facilities are provided for pregnant women and nursing mothers. Other things an employer should provide includes the following:
- An area where workers/employees can get changed should this be necessary
- To ensure that items stored at height are stacked securely
- To ensure that stairs, floors and walkways are safe and free of obstacles
What are My Worker’s Rights Following an Accident at Work?
If you were injured at work, you have the right to file a personal injury claim and to seek compensation for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity you suffered. However, for your claim to be upheld it would need to meet specific criteria which is detailed below:
- That the injuries you sustained were through no fault of your own. With this said, you could be partly responsible for the workplace accident that left you with injuries and your employer could still be held partly responsible. This is known as “contributory negligence”. Should this be the case, the amount of accident at work compensation you may be awarded would reflect the level of responsibility you were deemed to have. Should your injuries have been caused by a work colleague, your employer could be held liable because they are responsible for the “actions” of all employees. This is referred to as “vicarious liability”
- That the accident at work occurred in the last 3 years. However, if the incident occurred prior to your 18th birthday, you can begin a claim against a negligent employer when you turn 18 years of age. If you are diagnosed as suffering from a medical condition that can be linked to the workplace accident you were involved in, you can file a personal injury claim against your employer from the date of the diagnosis
Your right to file an accident at work claim against your employer allows you do to the following:
- Seek compensation and out of pocket expenses
- To file an accident at work claim without having to worry about losing your job for doing so
What Are My Employer’s Legal Responsibilities Following an Accident at Work?
Your employer must by law have an accident report book and must tell RIDDOR of any “reportable accidents” that occur in the workplace. Should you be involved in a workplace accident, you must inform your employer as soon as possible so that the incident can be officially logged.
If your injuries prevent you from doing this, you should make sure a trusted work colleague can do this on your behalf and once you are able to, you should check that the details of the workplace accident and the injuries you sustained are correctly detailed in an accident report book. If they are not, you have the right to correct the information.
Does My Employer Have to Pay Me If I Have Time Off to Recover From a Workplace Injury?
If you have to take time off work to recover from your workplace injuries, you would be entitled to receive statutory sick pay (SSP). This currently stands at £92.05 a week which you would be entitled to receive for up to 28 weeks. However, the terms of your employment contract might also state that you could receive sick pay and other benefits. As such, you should read through your employment contract to find out if this is so.
Could I Lose My Job If I Make An Accident at Work Claim Against My Employer?
As previously mentioned, your worker’s rights are protected and as such, your employer cannot sack you because you seek compensation for any workplace injuries you sustained. Should your employer object to you filing an accident at work claim against them and threaten you either with the sack or redundancy, you should contact a lawyer who specialises in employment law. The reason being that your employer would be acting unlawfully and you may therefore have grounds to take further legal action out against your employer.
Do My Worker’s Rights Entitle Me to Include Specific Things in an Accident at Work Claim?
When injured in a workplace accident, you have the right to seek compensation for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity you had to endure which is awarded as “general damages”. The guidelines for how much you may be entitled to receive is published by The Judicial College.
On top of this, you have the right to seek “special damages” which compensates you for all the out of pocket expenditure you incurred as a result of having sustained injuries in a workplace accident through no fault of your own.
General damages are harder to calculate as each personal injury claim is unique and as such, it would depend on several things as to how much you may be awarded in a successful accident at work clam. The accident at work compensation you receive would depend on the following:
- The severity of your injuries
- How your injuries impact your life
- How your injuries impact your ability to work
Special damages are a lot easier to work out because they are based on the amount of money you had to pay out as a result of having been injured in an accident at work. As such, when you file a claim against an employer, you must provide all the receipts for the following:
- Travel expenses to and from hospital or other medical facility to receive necessary treatment/check-ups whether you get there by car, train, bus, taxi or other means
- Medical expenses which includes all your prescription costs, treatment and therapy costs
- Care costs and this includes when family or friends who you don’t pay take care of you
- Home adaptations
- Extra money spent on heating, electricity and gas because you remain at home during your recovery
Industrial Injury Benefits (IIDB), Do I Have the Right to Claim Them?
If the workplace accident left you with a medical condition or disability whether the incident happened while you were at work or when you were on an approved training course scheme, you could be entitled to claim IIDB and the amount you may receive would depend on the extent of your disability.
With this said, there are over 70 diseases that are covered by the IIDB. As such, you should discuss your eligibility with a solicitor who specialises in this type of accident at work claim for workers and employees.
Do I Have The Right To Sue My Employer if I Am Injured at Work?
As previously mentioned, you have the right to sue an employer for compensation if you are injured in an accident in the workplace. However, your claim must meet certain criteria for it to be valid. The accident must have occurred in the last 3 years because of employer negligence or because of an error on the part of a work colleague. With this said, you may be partly responsible for the injuries you sustained and you could still be entitled to seek accident at work compensation if it is found your employer is partly responsible which in law is referred to as “contributory negligence”.
It is worth noting that if it is found that “contributory negligence” applies to your case, the amount of personal injury compensation you may receive would take into account your level of responsibility. If is found that you were 25% liable for the injuries you sustained, you would receive 25% less than if your employer was 100% responsible.
If you choose to seek accident at work compensation for the injuries you sustained, your employer’s insurance provider would deal with all aspects of your case from start to finish. In short, it would the insurance company who would pay the compensation awarded on a successful accident at work claim. The reason being that your employer is by law, required to have liability insurance in place to cover this type of eventuality. The cover must meet the legally required £5 million threshold and must be issued by a recognised insurance company.
Is There a Time Limit Involved in Accident at Work Claims?
If you want to file an accident at work claim against an employer, you have 3 years to do so. However, it is far better to begin a claim earlier rather than later because it can take a lot of time and effort to gather all the information and evidence needed to prove a case. The time limit of 3 years differs depending on the circumstances surrounding an accident at work which is detailed below:
- 3 years from the date you were injured in an accident in the workplace
- 3 years from the date of your 18th birthday if the accident occurred before you were 18 years of age
- 3 years from the date you were diagnosed as suffering from a disease or other health issue directly linked to the injury you sustained in the workplace
Do I Have The Right To Seek Legal Representation On An Accident at Work Claim?
Should you be involved in a workplace accident and you suffer injuries whether minor or catastrophic, you have the right to legal representation if you want to seek compensation from an employer. Personal injury claims can be complex legal processes and it is important to get things right from the outset. There are pre-action protocols which must be respected, something an experienced accident at work lawyer has vast experience in negotiating.
Your employer cannot object to you discussing your claim with a legal expert and they cannot treat you unfairly or detrimentally for doing so. Should your employer make your working life difficult following an accident in the workplace, you should discuss your situation with a solicitor who specialises in employment law and your worker’s rights because you may be able to file further legal action against your employer.
What Advantages Does Working With a Solicitor Work on My Accident at Work Claim Offer?
As previously mentioned, accident at work claims can be complicated legal processes more especially if an employer chooses to deny liability for the workplace injuries you sustained. As such, having the expertise of a lawyer work with you when you file a claim, can provide many advantages from the moment you get in touch with them. The benefits of having legal representation when injured in the workplace, includes the following:
- You would be offered a free initial consultation when you first contact a solicitor and you would not be obligated to continue with an accident at work claim should you not wish to
- The consultation can be done over the phone although if your case is complex, it would be better to meet the solicitor in person
- Once happy you have a strong case against a negligent employer, a solicitor would ask that you sign a No Win No Fee agreement which allows them to begin investigating your claim without having to request a retainer/upfront fee
- You would be examined by an independent medical professional and their report would be used to establish how much compensation you may be awarded in a successful accident at work claim
- You would be told how much you may receive as soon as possible
- All negotiations and communication would be handled by the solicitor from the outset taking all the burden off your shoulders
- The required pre-action protocols would be respected
- The statutory 3 year time limit would be respected
- A fair and acceptable level of accident at work compensation would be negotiated on your behalf by the solicitor who represents you
- Interim payments would be negotiated if the final settlement takes a long time to reach
- If you suffered very severe injuries and you require long-term medical care, ongoing treatment and therapy would be organised for you
There are many legal pitfalls associated with accident at work claims, more especially if your employer denies liability. Having the expertise of a solicitor working on your claim would ensure that you avoid making legal mistakes that could slow your case down or even prevent it from being heard. Solicitors have access to legal libraries which they can refer to when researching your accident at work claim. They have vast experience in dealing with insurance providers and proving employer negligence if your case is disputed.
If you were involved in a workplace accident and suffered injuries through no fault of your own, there are worker’s rights which are important to know about prior to filing a claim. To find out more, please click on the link below:
If you would like more information on your employer’s responsibilities in the workplace, please follow the link below: