Involved in an accident at work? We explain your rights and how to claim for personal injury

Accidents at work or workplace illness affect more than a million people every year in the UK. If you have suffered an accident at work, it is often a difficult decision to pursue a claim against your employer.

Many people are reluctant to begin a claim for fear of upsetting an employer or jeopardising their career. Company loyalty or fear that a colleague could lose their job can prevent claims for personal injury. However, worries associated with claiming are often unfounded.

Employers should have insurance in place to protect them financially and in personal injury cases the claim would be against the insurance policy and not your employer. Employers have a duty of care to protect their employees and insurance such as Employer’s Liability Insurance, which is compulsory, covers accidents in the workplace.

You must be treated fairly if making a claim against your employer for an accident at work which was not your fault. You have every right to claim compensation for any injury suffered or financial loss incurred as a result.

The Legalities

There are laws in place to protect employees when accidents happen. Your employer cannot dismiss or ‘sack’ you for claiming compensation and they are not allowed to act in an unjust way towards you.

Cases for other compensation such as unfair dismissal and constructive dismissal are available, and you would be entitled to claim for this compensation in certain cases.

Laws are there to protect employees and RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations) is the law that requires employers and other people in charge of work premises, to report and keep records of:
• work-related accidents which cause deaths
• work-related accidents which cause certain serious injuries
• diagnosed cases of certain industrial diseases
• incidents with the potential to cause harm

Source: Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

For more information on reporting accidents and incidents at work visit the HSE

Time off

You may need time off from work to recover from the accident. In this case, you would be entitled to sick pay. If your employer has a scheme in place you would be entitled to use it, otherwise Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is available.

You are entitled to £94.25 per week SSP if you are too ill to work. It is paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks, but you need to qualify for SSP and have been off work sick for four or more days in a row (including non-working days).

SSP may be considerably less than your current salary and as it is only paid for a limited amount of time, a claim for your loss of earnings as part of your personal injury compensation claim could go some way towards alleviating your financial loss. If liability is admitted you may be able to secure an interim payment from the defendant to cover this loss.

You may also be entitled to claim for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit

How do I claim?

After instructing a solicitor they will work with you and advise on the evidence required to pursue a claim against your employer. If you have had an accident at work, it is very important that it is recorded in the accident book and that you have seen the entry confirming the details of the incident and preferably have signed this. It is prudent to obtain a copy. If you have an illness which was also caused by an event at work, for example exposure to chemicals or respiratory illnesses you can also claim for this.

After submitting your claim to your employer your solicitor will then liaise with the insurance company. Your solicitor will also arrange for you to be medically examined by an independent medical expert who will prepare a report for the court. You will need to provide evidence of any out of pocket expenses that you incurred as a result of the accident.

Providing the correct equipment and training can prevent many accidents. By claiming for personal injury compensation, it can force companies to improve on health and safety and risk management procedures, protecting future employees from accidents.

Causes of an accident or illness at work:
• Incorrect (or lack of) manual handling or other type of training
• Defective or dangerous equipment or machinery
• Slips, trips and falls
• Construction/Building site accidents
• Lack of protective equipment or lack of training
• A failure to assess the risks of a certain task properly or at all
• An unsafe workplace
• Negligence of fellow employees
• Working at height
• Unsafe environments
• Factory sites/offices
• Repetitive strain injuries
• Respiratory illness
• Hearing loss
• Industrial diseases
• Workplace stress

For more information on accidents in the workplace  CLICK HERE

Useful links:
Workplace Safety Advice