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Advice on how to deal with a workplace accident or an injury suffered at work

(Updated November 2020 by Ayoub Khan)

I Had An Injury at Work, What Are My Rights?

If you are injured because of an accident at work you have rights as an employee; these include:

1. The right to make a claim for compensation

2. To take time off work whilst you recover from your injury

3. Access to lighter duties and/or reduced hours, if needed, when you return to work

4. Claim for any lost income

As workplace injury specialists we face a number of common questions on behalf of injured workers, and therefore have put together a helpful advice guide:

Injury at Work Advice FAQs

Here’s some of the most common questions relating to injuries in the workplace and what to do if you’ve suffered an injury whilst at work.

How do I claim for an accident at work?

A claim needs to be submitted to the relevant employers liability insurers, a bit like when something goes wrong with a holiday and you claim on your travel insurance but this time you are claiming on the employer’s insurance. All employers are required by law to have insurance in place and it is that insurance that pays out if someone is injured at work. However, it is not as simple as completing a form – the claim documents need to detail the laws that have been broken, and why. For this reason it is crucial you have an experienced work injury solicitor to submit the claim for you.

If you try to submit a claim yourself a mistake can be made which prevents the case from proceeding, and the insurance company will probably refuse to pay compensation. We specialise in work injuries and are happy to represent clients on a no-win-no-fee basis.

Can I make a workplace injury claim if the accident was no-one’s fault?

Generally, to succeed you need to prove either your employer, or a fellow colleague, was negligent.  All employers owe their employees a duty of care – to keep them safe at work.  Also, all workers owe their colleagues a duty of care to ensure their actions do not put their fellow employees at risk.

Sometimes however people do not fully understand or appreciate how their accident happened and there can often be systems in place that people do not realise are dangerous until someone is injured.

As all cases are different, if in doubt it’s best to seek confidential legal advice.

Can I make an injury at work claim if the accident was my fault?

Again, similarly to the answer to question 1, ordinarily to succeed you will need to prove either your employer or a fellow employee was negligent and it was that negligence that caused your injuries.  However, all cases are different and sometimes people think an accident is their fault when really it is the system put in place by the employer that is unsafe.

If in doubt it is always best to seek advice from a workplace injuries specialist solicitor.

What to do if you suffer an injury at work?

Common questions asked are, “what should I do if I suffer an accident at work?” and “what should my employer have done after my accident at work?”

It is important you take the following 5 steps straight away if you have suffered an accident at work:

1. Let a colleague, supervisor or the employer know what has happened

2. Ensure the accident is reported and recorded in the company accident book by your employer or supervisor.

3. Take photos and/or videos of the scene of the accident showing how and why the accident happened. If you are unable to do so, ask a colleague to do so and then obtain copies of the photos.

4. Make a note of any names and witnesses, including their contact details. Your solicitor may contact them to help support your case.

5. Seek advice as soon as possible from a solicitor experienced in dealing with accidents at work.

It is important to alert your employer, and preferably any health and safety/first aid representative urgently. Your main priority of course should be seeking first aid.

Notifying your employer can sometimes help remove a dangerous situation and avoid other employees suffering the same accident and injury.

Your employer has a legal obligation to ensure the accident is reported. If your employer will not document the accident, as sometimes happens, you should take immediate steps to notify your employer in writing, perhaps via email or letter. If you send a letter, please keep a copy. We see many cases in which an employer refuses or fails to record an accident, following which the injured person does not take any steps to have the accident documented, and then when the employee looks to bring a personal injury claim the employer and their insurance company denies the accident even took place.

There have even been cases in which judges have ruled an accident did not happen on the basis it was not reported at the time so do not rely upon your employer – always take steps to ensure the accident is recorded in full and that all the details are accurate.

Another untoward tactic sometimes used by employers is to record a different, false version of the accident circumstances that puts the blame on the injured person, to use later in defending a personal injury claim. Never sign an accident record that is not accurate and if your employer will not show you the recorded circumstances it would be advisable to send either an email or a letter, keeping a copy, which records the true accident circumstances.

Can I sue my employer for a workplace injury?

The answer is yes, you are eligible to bring a claim for personal injury compensation if your employer was negligent or broke a health and safety law.

It is compulsory for all employers to have Employer’s Liability Insurance. This insurance is there to cover the cost of compensation to injured workers, provided their work injury happened whilst at work and happened as a result of the employer’s negligence or breach of a health and safety law.

Each claim is “facts specific” and so we will need to discuss the events carefully with you to be able to advise as to whether you have a claim for compensation. Why not telephone one of our workplace injury specialist solicitors on 0161 399 1231 for a free, no-obligation and confidential discussion?

Can I be sacked after an injury at work?

The short answer is “no.” The Employment Rights Act 1996 sets out the reasons an employer can rely upon to dismiss an employee and, as you might expect, having an accident at work is not one of them. The only exception might be if you caused the accident through reckless action: in situations like this, if your employer took the view your actions endangered the workforce, they could argue that as a reason to dismiss you but, in our experience, this is rare and most accidents are not the fault of the injured person.If you are sacked after an injury at work you need to speak to an employment solicitor urgently as there is only a very short time period to make a claim for unfair dismissal so don’t delay!

If I make a workplace injury claim will I lose my job?

Employment laws protect employees so, generally, if you have worked somewhere long enough to be covered by the law, your employer cannot dismiss you just because you made an injury at work claim.  In fact, to treat someone differently because they were involved in a legal case is against the law.  Remember, your employer has employer’s liability insurance in case any of their employees are injured at work – it is that insurance company that pays out if you win your case, similarly to how if you suffer a car accident it is the negligent driver’s insurance company that provides the compensation.

Remember, seeking compensation for a workplace injury does not mean your relationship with your employer has to suffer – we have acted for thousands of clients who have suffered an accident at work but have maintained a good relationship with their employer and continued working there without issue.

Can I make an injury at work claim if I no longer work there?

Absolutely – your personal injury claim will be dealt with by the insurance company your employer had cover with at the time of your accident; irrespective of where you now work it is that insurance company that will deal with the case.

What do my employers need to do if I am injured at work?

The employer has what is known as “RIDDOR” obligations – The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013.

The types of incidents that need to be reported to the Health and Safety Executive are detailed on the HSE website and are too detailed for this article. If in doubt, an employer should speak to the HSE as there can be large fines for failing to file a RIDDOR report. The HSE considers all RIDDOR reports and if an incident is particularly serious either they or the local council will investigate. On some occasions the HSE will even prosecute the employer as a criminal matter. If this is the case your personal injury solicitor will likely accompany you to the hearing as a criminal conviction means a personal injury claim will almost certainly succeed.

My employer wants to have a meeting about the workplace accident, do I have to go?

This is a very common question.  Generally you need to co-operate with your employer so far as reasonable, or your employer may be able to dismiss you.  However, it is always best to be careful as some less reputable companies may try to use that meeting to press you to admit the accident was your fault.  If your employer insists you attend you could try asking for someone to accompany you, or for the meeting to be recorded, or, if that is not acceptable, to make sure you have a chance to check the minutes of the meeting afterwards, and note anything you don’t agree with as minutes are not always accurate, particularly if they are prepared by the company responsible for your injuries.

Another worker assaulted me, can I claim compensation for that or I should I go to the police?

Both – any criminal activity should be reported to the police immediately, irrespective of what anyone else might tell you; remember – your safety comes first.  The law regarding harm done by other employees is actually quite extensive – generally, if something is done whilst at work it is covered by the employer’s liability insurance.

We often hear from clients who have been incorrectly advised by other law firms that they only have a criminal injury claim (a low value compensation system operated by the Government for victims of crime) – this is wrong and can lead to missing out on a much higher settlement.  Always seek advice from a specialist law firm.

My boss told me not to claim, what should I do?

Please see the answer to question 6.

Nobody should ever prevent you from accessing your legal rights.  It is perhaps best to begin by seeking confidential legal advice, such as that offered by Aston Knight Solicitors, which you can use to make a decision.

I’m injured but I can’t afford to be off work, what should I do?

Many private sector employees lack sick pay protection these days, which can cause difficulties.  Most people do not know what, if any, sick pay protection they have until they’re off work; you will need to check your employment contract carefully to see what, if any, sick pay cover you have.  Generally however it is always best to follow the advice of your doctor as continuing to work when you are injured can lead to a delayed recovery or worsened injuries.

Some cases settle in a matter of months and if you win you will recover lost earnings caused by the accident.  Bigger cases that take longer can be trickier but a specialist personal injury firm will work closely with you to explore all options to assist whilst your case is ongoing such as benefits, perhaps obtaining an “interim payment” which means part of your compensation upfront whilst your case settles, or perhaps offering a compensation advance to assist.

Do I get paid if I get injured at work?

The short answer is yes, whether from your employer or Statutory Sick Pay.

However, it largely depends upon your contract of employment. Some contracts of employment state the employee will be paid in full for a certain period, or perhaps half-pay for another period – it all depends upon the terms of the employment contract. If the contract of employment is silent on this point, or you do not have a contract of employment, then it may be you will only receive Statutory Sick Pay, which is a minimum sick pay, set by the Government, which all employers have to pay to employees who are absent through illness.

Alternatively, some employers may have a policy that, whilst not set out in the contract of employment, is nevertheless made clear via some other way, such as an employee handbook for example. Remember, employers have to treat all workers equally when it comes to time off due to illness so they cannot approach your sick pay differently if you are off following a work injury.Another point to bear in mind is that as part of the personal injury claims process you are able to include lost earnings in your claim. This means that for those employees who are not paid whilst they are off, or who perhaps receive only SSP, they can claim back their lost earnings as part of their compensation.

We will obtain evidence of your pre and post-accident earnings and then calculate how much you have lost as a result of your accident.

Do I get full pay if injured at work?

Not always, sadly – it often depends on the contract of employment.  Some employment contracts will say the employee will be paid in full for part or all of the time they are off work injured, some don’t and so it is then just Statutory Sick Pay or “SSP”.  Generally, it tends to be public sector jobs that have provisions for full pay in their contracts and private companies, particularly smaller ones, tend to have little if any provision for payment whilst off injured.

If you win your case then you can recover lost earnings in full from the Defendant, with interest, but, of course, this is when the case ends. 

Some employers will pay full pay even if the contract does not say they have to, and sometimes we can get what is known as an “interim payment” from their insurance company, which basically means paying part of your compensation early, to take some of the financial pressures away. 

We recognise that being off work unpaid is a very difficult situation to be in so we will press the insurers for early payment wherever possible.

The company has closed down now, can I still claim?

As explained in question 4 above, as long as your employer had insurance at the time of your accident (the vast majority do as it is illegal not to) then that is all that matters.  In many of our cases, particularly industrial deafness, the company has long since shut down, but we deal with their insurance company instead.

How long do I have to make a work injury claim?

Generally, 3 years from the date of your accident at work.  Sometimes this can be extended for situations where the injuries don’t show up until many years later, such as industrial deafness.  However, it is always best to work on the side of caution and seek legal advice as quickly as possible as once the time limit has expired there is no way to proceed, irrespective of how good a case you have or how severe your injuries are.

Do I need a specialist work injury solicitor?

Our answer to this is an emphatic yes! Work injury cases involve different, often complex, laws to that of general personal injury work, such as road traffic accidents. It is therefore important that your solicitor has experience and a proven track record of success when it comes to a work injury case. Aston Knight Solicitors perhaps main area of specialism are work injury cases so you can rest assured your case will be dealt with by an experienced solicitor, with a proven track record of success in this area of the law.

How much compensation will I receive for an injury at work?

Every case is different so it is impossible to advise with certainty at the outset.  Your compensation will be made up of different elements such as injury compensation, financial losses already incurred such as lost earnings and future losses – things you will incur in the future due to your injuries such as medical treatment, future loss of earnings, care requirements, and many more.

The law regarding how compensation is calculated is extremely complex, particularly for serious injuries.  For anyone with a serious injury it is crucial to always use a specialist solicitor with a proven track record as missing something could mean a difference of tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds.  Aston Knight Solicitors have a proven track record with serious injuries including fatalities and severe disablement and will ensure your case is run properly by an experienced solicitor from start to finish.

Beware of law firms who purport to advise you of the likely compensation award right at the outset – there is no way they could know at this stage and often figures are quoted to entice the client into instructing the firm in question.  Aston Knight Solicitors will provide as much guidance as possible but we’ll never provide specific advice at the outset.

My employer won’t add my accident into the accident book, what should I do?

Your employer is under a legal duty to record all accidents in the workplace – try insisting and if that doesn’t work email or put something in writing to record what happened, when, who was involved, where and why it happened.  Sometimes less reputable employers will either deny knowledge of an accident or dispute the circumstances.

Accidents which result in you being off work for a week or more require the employer to notify the Health and Safety Executive – the HSE, who will choose whether to investigate.  Failing to notify the HSE can result in a significant fine to the employer.

My employer investigated the accident and concluded it was not their fault, what should I do?

Remember, it is always best to seek confidential legal advice.  We see many cases where the internal investigation concludes the company was not at fault but we go on to succeed for the client.  Remember – it is often in their interests to record it was not their fault – that doesn’t make it true!

Aston Knight Solicitors have even succeeded in cases where the HSE have investigated and concluded the employer was not at fault – remember, the HSE sometimes only knows what the employer tells them, the facts can often be very different.

Accident at work compensation examples?

Potential clients will often ask us about example cases, perhaps to get an idea of how much compensation they will receive. A number of recent successes are featured on our website but, remember, every case is different.

An amputation injury which leaves the worker unable to work is likely to be worth over £1 million, but a minor amputation injury, such as a fingertip, is more likely to be valued at tens of thousands of pounds. Although each and every case is unique, rest assured that as workplace accident specialist solicitors we will fight hard to ensure you receive the maximum compensation possible.

Are You Eligible To Make A Work Accident Claim?

If you are unfortunate enough to have suffered an accident at work or workplace injury, you may be eligible to make a work accident claim for compensation. Even though steps are usually put in place to prevent work accidents, they can and unfortunately do happen under different circumstances.

Injuries caused by these work accidents can range in severity from minor injuries and sprains to broken bones, severe burns, amputations, and even fatalities.

Dealing With An Injury at Work

Despite strict health and safety laws enforced in a wide range of working environments, thousands of people suffer from an injury at work each and every day.

From falls on construction sites and neck strain injuries caused by sitting in the incorrect position at your desk, through to trips and slips, workplace accidents are not uncommon – far from it.

The good news is, if you’ve had an accident at work, you may be entitled to compensation. Each and every day, our highly professional Aston Knight Solicitors handle a diverse range of accident at work related claims.

Workers are protected in two key ways:

The Law of Negligence – Workplace Injuries

This long-held principle states that employers owe employees a duty of care. This duty of care is divided into four principles:

a) To provide a safe place of work – e.g. floors to be free from trip or slip hazards.
b) To provide a safe system of work – e.g. machinery to be turned off before any maintenance works are carried out.
c) To provide a competent staff – e.g. fellow workers to be safe and suitably trained.
d) To provide adequate plant and materials – e.g. to provide construction workers with protective hard hats.

Workplace Health and Safety Laws

Health and Safety Laws set out detailed requirements including risk assessments and training.

Specific health and safety laws in place:

a) The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 – these laws govern what the employer must do when it comes to lifting activities such as risk assessments, ensuring there is two-man lift, and more.

b) The Work at Height Regulations 2005 – these protect employees working at height. There should be a careful risk assessment regarding both the risk of a fall, and the risk of falling objects, following which a safe system of work should be put into place.

c) The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 – these are perhaps the most important workplace health and safety laws of all, providing detailed requirements for risk assessments and training.

d) The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 – these regulations provide detailed requirements for working with potentially dangerous equipment such as saws.

e) The Construction Regulations 2015 – as the name suggests, these govern construction sites such as ensuring the site is clear of hazards.

f) The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 – these include requirements such as floors being free of slip or trip hazards, workplaces to have adequate heating and lighting, cleanliness and many more.

In addition, if an accident at work occurs following a general UK law being broken, such as the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957, the employer could be liable.

If an employer has been negligent and/or broken a health and safety law, and it leads to a worker being injured, that employee will be able to claim compensation, both for their injuries and any financial repercussions, such as lost earnings.

However, it’s not just the employer that has to abide by the law. If someone suffers a workplace injury because of the actions of an employee, as long as what the employee did was connected to their employment, the employer will be expected to accept blame. This rule includes an employee being violent.

Workers can also be injured at work over the course of time, such as noise induced hearing loss, which is referred to as “industrial disease.” Other industrial diseases include hearing damage, vibration white finger, repetitive strains, and many more.

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