Accidents at Work – common questions

What is an accident at work?

An accident at work is an incident that occurs during the course of your employment resulting in an injury.

Can I claim for an accident at work?

In a word, yes. Your employer has a duty to reasonably ensure that you are safe and not exposed to unnecessary risks during the course of your employment.

This could include providing training, personal protective equipment (PPE), carrying out risk assessments, making sure your working environment is safe and that any work equipment used is well maintained.

If an accident occurs, and it is as a result of a failure on your employer’s part to reasonably implement such processes, then they may be found to be liable for your accident/injuries.

Why should I claim?

There are a number of reasons why you should pursue a claim for injury. For you personally this could include to attempt to recover financial losses incurred as a direct result of your accident, or to help aid your recovery if your injuries are unresolved. For the wider community, i.e. your colleagues, it could mean that it highlights any issues with the Defendant’s procedures and prompts them to improve them to help reduce the risk of a similar accident occurring again.

Are you worried about claiming against your employer?

There could be a variety of reasons why you may be worried about claiming against your employer. This could include concern over whether they/your colleagues will treat you any differently, if your future job prospects will be affected, or maybe even whether your employer can afford to pay out compensation should your case be successful.

An employer should not treat an employee any differently just because they have submitted a claim for personal injury and in the majority of cases they don’t. If this did arise however, it would be sensible to seek legal advice from an Employment Solicitor or maybe from the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB).

What happens when I claim?

Every case is different, however in most instances formal notification of the claim needs to be submitted to the Defendants outlining the accident circumstances, injuries sustained and allegations of negligence. Once submitted, they are then allowed time to investigate the matter and provide their decision regarding liability.

If the Defendants admit liability, the next step is to arrange for an independent medical expert to carry out an examination in order to prepare your medical evidence, of which the valuation of your claim is based upon, along with compiling any losses and expenses reasonably incurred as a result of your accident and injuries.

If the Defendants deny liability however, they must provide documentation in order to support their decision. Your representatives will then have to review and assess the merits of the denial and carry out any further investigations required to be able to fully assess the prospects of success of your case and advise what the best steps are for you going forward.

How much compensation could I get for an Accident at Work?

This is very much dependent upon the severity of the injuries sustained and the effects that they have had upon you daily life. Once you have complete medical evidence that provides a final prognosis for your injuries, your representatives will use this to value your claim using the ‘Judicial College Guidelines’ (brackets setting out what various injuries are worth) and also past case law decided upon by court for injuries as similar to yours as possible.

Again, every case is different and so it is likely that it would be the case that two different people who sustain similar injuries could have their claims valued at different amounts. For example, a person who sustained a long term leg injury who is a professional sports person may have their case valued at a higher figure than a person who is an office worker as their injuries would have had a bigger impact upon their life.

Your compensation will also depend on the losses and expenses incurred. For example, a viable loss of earnings claim is likely to push the value of a claim higher than someone’s who had only had to purchase painkillers to ease their symptoms.

How long do I have to make a claim?

For these types of claims, there is a 3 year limitation period from the date of the accident to make a claim. Whilst this sounds like a long time, claims of this type can potentially be very lengthy and take a while to progress. This is why it is important to act quickly if you do wish to pursue the matter.

Will a work accident claim affect my future employment prospects?

Making a claim for an accident that occurs at work should not affect your future employment prospects and your employer should not treat you in any kind of negative manner. If you do have any concerns however regarding this, you can seek advice from an Employment Solicitor or the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB).

What evidence will I need to back up my work injury claim?

If you have an accident at work, one of the first things that you should do is to ensure that it has been reported to the appropriate person within the company and the circumstances have been accurately recorded within an accident book.

You should also look to seek medical attention, not only so that you can obtain treatment for your injuries, but also so that it is recorded within your medical records that your accident and injury occurred. This is important to help prove that your injuries were sustained as a direct result of your accident at work should this ever be raised as an issue.

Depending on the circumstances and severity of your injury, your employer may also then have to report the matter to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as per the Reporting of Injuries, Disease and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR). If this has been done, the report and documents arising from any investigations could assist with a liability decision. This however is something that you may not be able to obtain yourself and your Solicitors may be required to apply for as part of you claim.

Further to the above, photographs of the accident locus and details of any witnesses willing to provide evidence regarding the accident itself and the working conditions could assist with the case if denied. Your Solicitors may also require from you detailed sketch plans and/or a thorough explanation of your work environment/equipment if the circumstances of your accident are complex. It is important that your Solicitors are able to fully understand the incident as they will need to use the description that you have provided to accurately draft the documents required to formally submit the claim to the Defendants.

Won’t a work injury claim leave my employer out of pocket?

If you are successful in pursuing your claim for your accident at work, it would be your employer’s Insurers who pay out for your compensation, and not your employer themselves. All employers should have ‘Employer’s Liability Insurance’ in place which would cover such eventualities.

Will lost earnings be included in my work injury claim?

If your time off from work is supported by your medical evidence, then you can include loss of earnings as part of your claim. In order to do this, a copy of your earnings records, e.g. your wage slips, will need to be provided by your employer or yourself so that your loss can be calculated and supported.

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