Anyone working as a carer, whether in a domestic home or other setting, will know it’s physically demanding work involving lifting and manoeuvring those they are caring for.
Unfortunately, this means it’s not unusual accidents can happen to a care worker. However, employers are expected to take reasonable precautions, such as providing proper training, to minimise the potential risks of injury, otherwise they can face injury claims.
If you’re a carer and have been injured at work – you can ask for help to make a personal injury claim. Where the accident happened in a health setting and the patient was also injured, a medical negligence claim could also be made by the service user.
Carers work in hospices and hospitals, in residential and nursing homes and even in the private homes of service users. Their patients may be children or the elderly, they may be suffering debilitating physical or mental health illnesses or the terminally ill.
Other service users only need carers for a short time as they recover from an accident, car crash, operation or illness. However, looking after patients’ personal care needs involves manual work and potential exposure to illness and other risks.
If you’re a carer in the UK, whatever the setting and whether or not you are paid, you should be entitled to compensation if you’ve been injured and it was someone else’s fault. This could even include being hurt in a road traffic accident while on your way to a visit or shift.
To find out whether you could claim compensation for carer accidents, get in touch for confidential advice with an adviser on 0800 234 6438, or enter your details into this form
If you wish to proceed, the legal adviser will partner you with specialist no win no fee solicitors for an initial free consultation when they’ll take brief details about your individual circumstances. Personal injury solicitors are heavily regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority – giving you peace of mind.
You will have nothing to pay if you don’t win. If your claim is successful, you’ll receive compensation and will pay your solicitor’s fees as a ‘success fee’ which will be a percentage of your compensation (this is never more than 25% of the money you receive).
A carer means anyone supporting the welfare of ill or vulnerable individuals, whether in formal settings or in the community. Carers and healthcare assistants are employed by a diverse range of organisations, including the NHS, charities, care/residential homes and private individuals.
They may even be working voluntarily, but most carers who suffer work accidents through no fault of their own can bring injury claims. The role of carers vary tremendously and include:
There are also agencies who recruit carers on behalf of other organisations. Usually, whoever has recruited you owes a duty of care to ensure your working environment is free from risk of injury, otherwise they can face work accidents claims.
Whether you are a paid or voluntary carer or healthcare assistant, you can make a compensation claim against the employer or organisation if the accident was not your fault. However, if you’re a family member caring for a loved one, you cannot make an accident at work compensation claim under existing law.
It is only right that those injured in an accident at work while caring for others through no fault of their own, should have the right to bring claims for compensation against the person responsible to minimise the risk of it happening to someone else.
By their very nature, many of the responsibilities of carers involve manual handling, operating equipment, repetitive movements and other highly physical work. It’s not hard to see why accidents happen, such as:
The injuries sustained by carers in work accidents depend very much on the type of work or manoeuvre of a service user involved.
Lifting injuries can lead to slipped discs and other back or neck problems; and injuries to arms and wrists. Sometimes, these can lead to long-term conditions that mean the carer can no longer work to their full capacity.
Repetitive strain injuries can lead to conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome which can take years to recover from – sometimes surgery becoming necessary.
Contact dermatitis is a common condition suffered by carers workers. In fact, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) the rate of contact dermatitis per 100,000 workers for human health and social work is double that for all industries (5.8 compared to 2.7 per 100 000 workers).
Most injuries happen because the employer has failed in its duties. The vast majority of carer accidents are, in fact, avoidable if employers complied with their responsibilities to workers. So it’s only fair that injured workers can bring work claims on a no win no fee basis for the compensation they deserve.
Sadly, covid-19 claimed thousands of lives in care settings throughout the UK. The pandemic was a particularly worrying time for carers as they worked in close contact with service users, mainly because of the lack of PPE to protect them.
Care home operators had a legal duty to provide adequate PPE. However, many were unable to procure it because of a lack of PPE being available during the pandemic. But what if you knew your employer had PPE available but you were not provided with it and you caught covid-19?
The legal position is not clear because the issue has not yet been tested in court. If you are considering making a personal injury claim after contracting covid-19 as a carer, your solicitor would have to prove on balance that your employer breached its duty of care and you contracted covid-19 as a direct result.
You may have a good case if you can show that your employer was generally lax in its covid-19 safety measures at the time. However, given the uncertainties, we strongly recommend you discuss it with your solicitor to see what action you could take to make a claim.
Most people would imagine that individuals needing the regular help and services of carers and other healthcare assistants would be either relatively frail and weak, or fairly mild-mannered in their reliance on others.
However, this is not always the case. It is well known, for instance, that individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s can become uncharacteristically aggressive and mental health patients can also become challenging in their behaviour.
There is also the realist that human nature is such that pain, interference with personal privacy or sudden and unexpected movements can make even the mildest person lash out – whether deliberately or voluntarily.
Carers can be in the firing line of a particularly vulnerable resident or patient and become the victim of an attack. No one should have to go to work and be abused or attacked by others, but the fact is – carers can feel defenceless while caring for patients who may be extremely vulnerable and can hit out with little warning. The most common examples of these types of incidents include kicking, punching, hitting and hair pulling; verbal assaults; being pushed over; and having objects thrown.
While employers have a legal duty to undertake risk assessments to ensure a carer’s place of work is safe for them to work in, they can never completely remove the risk of an accident where a resident attacks, abuses or unexpectedly lashed out at a care worker.
However, employers should take steps such as:
If your employer has failed to take reasonable steps to mitigate the risks, and you’re assaulted and injured as a result, you have every right to make a no win no fee personal injury claim.
The law protects UK carers and healthcare assistants by expecting employers to minimise the risk of an accident at work. This extends to all care and residential home operators, and others recruiting care staff.
Employers are expected to have procedures and processes in place to promptly identify any safety risks and to deal with them in a timely way. These are known as ‘risk assessments’ and should be carried out regularly. In fact, one of the most common causes of injuries is the lack of an adequate risk assessment.
Below are the key laws that apply to employers in the care sector.
This sets out the general responsibilities of all employers. It imposes a duty to protect their employees’ health, safety and welfare – and that those who fail in this duty are liable for that accident or injury.
In care homes, for example, the correct equipment might include variable height bath hoists, lifting hoists, standing aids, slings and stair lifts. Employers must ensure all operations involving lifting equipment must be properly planned by a competent person, appropriately supervised and carried out safely.
Lifting equipment must also undergo regular through examinations which must be followed by full records of the exam. Any detected defects must be reported not only to whoever is responsible for the equipment – but also to the relevant enforcing authority (either the local authority or the HSE).
PPE protects workers against the risk to their health and safety in the workplace. Employers are required to ensure they select the right PPE for the job in hand, for instance, that protects from contact with a patient’s blood or the risk of catching covid-19. Workers should also have adequate instructions on how to use the PPE safely.
Everyone in the workplace is legally protected from the risk of accident and injury – including volunteers and charity workers. Just because you’re unpaid does not mean you’re left exposed and unprotected.
Unfortunately, however, it does not extend to family members caring for their own family at home. This is because the UK’s health and legislation applies to employees, other paid workers including those on zero hours contracts and unpaid volunteers including charity workers.
In some settings where carers work, this many seem quite an onerous burden to bear. However, all such organisations are legally required to have liability insurance in place precisely to protect against the risk of injury to workers and volunteers. This means that any compensation due to you will come out of the insurer’s pocket and not the care provider/organisation.
To make your work claim, the first step is to contact an expert legal adviser for free guidance about the claims process. However, make sure you’ve sought medical attention – not only for your injury but to ensure the accident is documented in your medical records early on. You should also:
All this information will be crucial to help your solicitor build the strongest possible workplace accident claim on your behalf.
It’s not uncommon for care workers who have been injured at work to think they must have been to blame for what happened. However, in most cases that will not actually be the case, so even if you believe the accident was your fault, it’s best to talk things over with specialist lawyers before deciding against making a claim.
For example, following a needlestick injury you may be worried you were simply careless. However, had you been provided with the correct training or adequate PPE, the incident may not have happened – in which case you can make a personal injury claim.
It’s therefore vital to discuss it over with your solicitor who will take all the background information about the lead up to the accident to determine the full circumstances.
Occasionally, a carer may be found partially to blame to blame for an accident (this is known as ‘contributory negligence’). In these situations, your employer would probably not have to pay you the full amount of compensation.
Always check your potential claim with specialist advisers as early as you can. It should not stop you making a claim, even though the amount of compensation you receive may be reduced.
You have every right to make an injury claim for injuries caused by your work as a carer. That said, it’s common to be fearful of the potential repercussions at work if you were to make a claim. You may well have forged a close bond of trust with those you care for and you’re concerned that this will be gone forever if you make a personal injury claim.
This is understandable because most people really don’t want to make things difficult for the employer; and having exposed problems relating to workplace safety – knowing you have or intend returning to work there – can be a huge worry.
Thankfully, if you are employed there are laws in place to protect you from being unfairly dismissed or treated differently. Quite simply, it’s illegal for you to be fired or disciplined for making a claim against your employer. If that happens, you’ll be able to take legal action against your employer.
It’s also worth noted that the injury claim itself will not be against the employer personally, but its insurance company, so your employer will simply pass on the claim to the insurer to deal with. Assuming you win your personal injury claim, the insurance company will pay out – it will not come out of the employer’s pocket.
How much compensation you receive will depend on the nature and extent of your injuries or condition and your recovery time. Your solicitor will look at the full impact of your accident and work hard to make sure you receive the maximum compensation you deserve.
The compensation you receive for the injuries themselves, or any condition you’ve developed as a carer, is known as ‘general damage’. This early, it is difficult to estimate how much you may win as it depends on various factors. That said, there are formal judicial guidelines which lawyers reference to calculate what an injured person could be entitled to as compensation.
These are examples of the range of compensation amounts depending on the injury/condition:
|Severe back injuries||£33,000||£137,330|
|Moderate shoulder injuries||£6,290||£10,180|
Your solicitor can also help you recover ‘special damages’ to compensate you for the financial impact of your injuries. This usually includes lost earnings and loss of overtime pay if you’re not entitled to full sick pay under your contract (you may be entitled to statutory sick pay).
Yes, you need to start a legal claim within three years of your personal injury (or within 3 years of knowing that your injury or illness was caused by your working environment).
Therefore, the single most important thing to do is get in touch with a legal adviser as quickly as you can, to get the ball rolling while events are fresh in your mind. You can speak to one today by calling free on 0800 234 6438 – or simply enter your name and number into the contact form at the bottom of this page to request a call back.
A carer who was on a scheduled visit to a resident with mental health issues at a Nottinghamshire care home was stabbed. The patient was known to be violent and aggressive and the care plan required two care workers to attend at all times.
However, the carer was with the patient, unaccompanied in the kitchen at the time. The resident grabbed a knife and stabbed the carer in her neck, leaving her with PTSD and long-term trauma.
The care agency, its manager and the care home were each fined for safety breaches.
Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.
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