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Accident at Work Compensation Claims
Unfortunately, despite improvements in health and safety standards over the past few decades, accidents at work happen each and every day. Work accidents can range from a trip in an office to injuries suffered using industrial equipment.
Accidents at work are more common than you think. If you have been injured as a result of a slip, trip, or fall, you may be entitled to make a claim for compensation for your injuries. Anything from back injuries at work to eye injuries.
When it comes to claiming for your injuries, it certainly pays to have an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side. This is where we come in! We are experts in handling all types of accident at work claims, always going above and beyond to get you the compensation you deserve.
The law states that all employers must ensure that their premises are free from hazards that could potentially cause accidents at work.
In order to minimise the risk of accidents, your employer must also ensure that other areas of your working environment are compliant with all health and safety guidelines. For example, floors in the workplace must be suitable for use and any slipping or tripping hazards should be eliminated as far as possible.
All employers owe their employees what is known as a “duty of care” which basically means to be mindful of their health and safety and to take active steps to reduce the risk of them suffering injury. This duty is still there even if you are sent to a different work environment other than your employer’s premises. For instance, if you are a maintenance worker, travelling to various sites to fulfil contracts for your employer’s customers, your employer is still responsible for your health and safety even though you might spend all day in other businesses’ premises, working alongside workers from different companies.
Not only is your employer responsible for your health and safety irrespective of what you are doing and where you are working, other companies, who control workers who are not their employees, or who have workers working at their premises who are not their employees, also have to meet various health and safety standards towards those workers, even if they are not the company’s employees. There are therefore sometimes situations where a worker will be owed protection from more than one business at a time and if they are injured, they may be able to take legal action against more than one company (a very common situation in which this arises is construction site injuries where many companies and contractors will be working on a site together).
Another important point to note is that it does not matter if you are an agency employee: the general legal consensus is that the company you are working at will owe you the same duty of care as they would their own, contracted, employees. The same goes for “zero hour” workers and so forth – generally, when it comes to health and safety at work, protection is relatively extensive.
So, let’s assume things have not gone as they should and you have suffered an injury at work, what then?
Reporting the work injury incident
Some injuries are so serious the worker never returns but, if you do return shortly, or perhaps continue working, then an important first step is the accident book. All employers should have an accident book and record clearly the details of the incident. People’s memories can fade with time and frequently is the case that if the incident came down to the fault of a particular manager or supervisor they may have a vested interest in trying to report the incident in such a way as to suggest the incident was the worker’s fault, or at the least not the company’s fault. Some accident books require the injured person to sign it as accurate so this offers a chance to check it carefully. Of course, never sign an accident book entry that you feel does not accurately record what happened because if you signed it as truthful, and later say it is not, a judge may have a difficult time accepting the challenge.
Investigating the accident at work
Often employers will undertake an investigation into what happened. Again, if the company or say a manager or supervisor was responsible, the investigation can sometimes be highly biased and even conclude it was the employee’s own fault. Insurance companies are often quick to accept the findings of such investigations, even if they are clearly biased and/or illogical. Don’t worry if this happens to you – your solicitors should do their own, thorough and independent, review of all the available evidence, including of course your side of the story, to determine the true circumstances.
Sometimes, for more serious incidents, the Health and Safety Executive will investigate. The HSE is a government body that investigates serious work injuries and can then prosecute negligent employers. It can often be confusing but these investigations are separate, though connected of course, to any personal injury claim. Whereas a personal injury claim consists of the injured worker seeking compensation for their injuries and losses, the HSE is concerned with prosecuting negligent employers who are then fined. Any fines they collect are not paid to the employee however as that legal action is not the injured person’s personal injury claim. However, if a company is prosecuted by the HSE it is highly unlikely they will be able to defend a personal injury claim as they have, effectively, already been found negligent albeit in a separate legal action. If the HSE does launch an investigation it is often sensible for the personal injury solicitors to wait whilst that happens as often useful evidence can emerge.
It goes without saying that medical attention and treatment is of paramount importance. Every company should have someone who is first aid trained or, if they perhaps share a premises with others, ensure first aid arrangements are available and readily accessible. The law requires all employers to undertake risk assessments of their activities and part of that should factor in the situation of workers who may have to work alone, or travel, and may therefore not have ready access to first aid provisions.
An important part of the law, and not just personal injury law, is the “duty to mitigate”. This basically means the duty to help yourself as best you can. This includes accessing medical treatment promptly including not just emergency medical treatment but rehabilitative treatment following such as physiotherapy, counselling and so forth. The level of compensation awarded will generally only be what would have been the case had you obtained all possible treatment, within reason. So if you could have had physiotherapy and recovered from a back injury within 12 months, but failed to do so and instead had back pain for three years, the Court will likely make an award based on 12 months, even if you spent a further two years with symptoms and perhaps even did not work in this period.
Whilst lawyers would never encourage a person to seek medical treatment in order to have the incident recorded in medical records, on the other hand it is important to realise many judges would be suspicious if a person claimed to have been suffering with symptoms for a prolonged period but had never accessed medical treatment as it can often be the case that a person’s medical history is the only documentary proof of how the injury affected them.
If you have to take time off to recover from your injuries then the extent to which you are paid will largely depend upon your contract of employment. Whilst the majority of public sector employees tend to have full sick pay protection, many private sector employees, particularly in small to medium sized companies, are shocked to learn they have no payment protection at all following an accident, even if the accident is the employer’s fault. However, if you suffer lost earnings due to an accident that is legally held to be your employer’s fault, you can recover those lost earnings as part of your compensation. The tricky part therefore is often what happens in the meantime, between the accident happening and the case being settled. Please note though that even if you do not have sick pay protection you should still be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay, currently around £85.00 per week.
Aston Knight Solicitors deal in particular with many very high value work injury matters in which, sadly, the injured person is never able to return to their job or indeed to even earn as much as they did in other jobs. They are left “disadvantaged on the open labour market” which basically means the pool of jobs now available to them is smaller than what it was before their injuries, and often is the case those jobs that are available offer poorer pay than the work they used to do. Dealing with cases of this nature requires highly specialised expertise including obtaining medical expert witness reports into the nature of the injuries in order to support the amount of compensation sought. As a specialist firm, Aston Knight Solicitors have strong connections with the most highly regarded barristers and expert witnesses, enabling us to achieve the very best settlements for our clients.
Return to work
Many workers are able to return to work after a matter of weeks or months. Sometimes your doctor will advise returning on light duties only and may provide a “fit note” which sets out what you can and cannot do, which your employer should consider carefully. Further, specific health and safety regulations, such as the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, require the employer to revisit a previous risk assessment if things have changed e.g. the worker is unable to do as much as they used to due to not having recovered fully yet. Many companies will do a “return to work” interview in which things like this should be factored in. Your employer may change the system of work in place when you were injured in order to avoid someone else being injured the same way; whilst this is not necessarily an admission of negligence, it can sometimes be useful evidence in identifying what should have been done to avoid your accident.
Accidents at Work FAQs
Contents of Accident at Work Compensation Claims
Can I claim for an accident at work?
If you have been involved in an accident at work and have suffered an injury, then you may be entitled to make a claim for compensation.
For a claim to be successful it is necessary to prove a health and safety law was not complied with and that is why your accident happened.
Aston Knight Solicitors have successfully claimed compensation for all types of accidents at work including for people who have slipped on a slippery floor, using faulty machinery and equipment, been given inadequate training and inadequate safety equipment, and many more.
If you are unsure whether you can make a claim, call now for a free confidential and no-obligation discussion and we can assess your claim.
When can I make a claim?
You can make a claim anytime up to 3 years from the date of the accident, after which you will be out of time. There are some exceptions to this;
- if you are under 18 years old (in which case you have 3 years from your 18th birthday); or
- you were not aware that your injury was work related until recently (in which case you have 3 years from when you became aware of the link between your injury and work); and
- other exceptional circumstances.
However, it is important to seek legal advice as quickly as possible after the accident so your solicitor can obtain any evidence or witness statements as soon as possible, which may not be available or recalled some time down the line. Your solicitor can also advise you of any further evidence that may need to be preserved or obtained to assist your case. Also, please be aware there are a number of pitfalls and exceptions to the general 3 year rule, so it is always best to be on the safe side and act quickly.
How much can I claim for?
Beware of solicitors who tell you how much your claim is worth at the outset of your claim.
Every case is different and is quantified depending on the nature, extent and severity of your injuries which will be continually assessed over time with a final indication provided upon receipt of independent medical advice (a medical report from an independent doctor i.e. not one who has treated you, must be obtained in all personal injury cases).
Aston Knight Solicitors regularly act for clients for what appears to be a straightforward single injury, which upon further investigations results in an extremely complex matter of multiple injuries and consequences, which when thoroughly investigated can results in tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of pounds.
At Aston Knight Solicitors we use only the most respected specialists in preparation of reports and the most esteemed barristers in preparation of your case.
What losses can I claim for?
Your compensation is made up of two types of losses;
- general damages, which includes personal injury and psychological injury; and
- special damages (which includes all financial losses that can be quantified, including damage to property, lost earnings and future losses and costs, including medical costs).
Remember, evidence is crucial when it comes to financial losses and expenses so it is important to keep a complete record and copies of supporting evidence such as wage slips, tickets, receipts and so forth.
Can I claim if I have recovered from my injuries?
Yes, you are entitled to recover compensation for any injuries you have sustained. It is not uncommon for people to recover within months of an accident, but to either make a claim after they have recovered or to continue to pursue their claim after they have recovered.
How much will it cost me if I lose my claim?
Aston Knight Solicitors can act for you under our no win no fee agreement. That simply means we will not charge you anything if you do not win as long as you comply with our terms and conditions, that is to say, you co-operate with us promptly at all times and do not deliberately mislead us. Basically, provided you always co-operate with us and are always honest then there is nothing to pay in the event the case does not succeed.
How long will my claim take?
How long a claim takes depends on the complexity of the matter, the nature, extent and severity of your injuries and whether the case is admitted or disputed.
We have settled straightforward matters within months and other matters where serious injuries are sustained it can take two to three years. In such cases the amount of compensation is usually tens of or even hundreds of thousands of pounds. The most important factor of course is that your case succeeds and that you are adequately compensated for your injuries, which, for many of our clients, can unfortunately be permanent and life-changing injuries.
Get in touch today!
If you’ve had an accident at work and want to make a claim, get in touch today. Our friendly and professional team is always on had to answer any of your questions, going above and beyond to ensure that you get the compensation you deserve. You can contact us by completing our quick and easy form or by calling us on 0161 399 1231 – we’re always happy to help!