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Employee rights and personal injury

If an accident happened at work and you’ve sustained a personal injury or been made ill because of it, you may be able to make a compensation claim against your employer. But what are your legal rights as an employee?

What are your legal rights as an employee?

When you go to work, you want to know your employer is doing everything they can to keep you and your colleagues are as safe as possible. Under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and associated regulations, employers have a duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees and other people who might be affected by their business.

Your employer should take all reasonable measures to make sure that you and other employees are protected from anything that could cause you harm, including controlling any risks to injury or health that could be caused by your work environment. For example, this might include making sure machinery is safely maintained, and that you’re provided with protective clothing and washing facilities.

Employers have a legal duty under these health and safety laws to carry out risk assessments that take into consideration all the risks. They should also give you information about the dangers in your workplace and how you’re protected, as well as train you on how to deal with those risks.

What is negligence at work?

If you have been injured or made ill at work, your employer can be held responsible if they were negligent. If your injuries were caused by employer negligence or negligence by a colleague, you may be able to claim compensation for your injuries. However, the law on negligence at work is complex.

Negligence is where someone does something that they should not have done (or failed to do something they should have done) which results in injury or damage occurring.

A negligent act can be one that causes death, personal injury or property damage. It may also include failing to give adequate training or supervision to employees, which leads them into dangerous situations.

If your employer has been negligent, then they’ve breached their duty of care toward you. Meaning they should have known better but didn’t act accordingly. Their actions were so negligent they caused harm to another person in some way, such as by injuring them physically, or damaging their property.

Can I make a personal injury claim against my employer?

If your employer fails to uphold their duty of care, and you’ve been injured as a result, then you have every right to make a personal injury claim to cover the costs your injury has caused, as well as the impact it’s had on your life.

For free legal advice about claiming compensation for workplace accidents, speak to a legally trained advisor on 0800 234 6438, or by filling in one of the secure call back forms on this page.

What if I was partially responsible for the accident?

If you were partially responsible for your accident at work, you could still be eligible to claim compensation, however your compensation would be reduced accordingly.

For example, if you were 50% at fault and your employer was 50% at fault, then the total amount of compensation payable would be reduced by half.

Can I be sacked for making a personal injury claim?

It’s against the law for your employer to fire you or treat you any differently if you make a compensation claim against them. If they were to do so, then this would count as unfair dismissal (if you were sacked) or constructive dismissal (if you were forced out of your job by your employer making your life difficult).

Either action would allow an employment tribunal to award you compensation or even order that you’re given your job back by your employer.

Could I bankrupt my employer if I make a claim for a work injury?

You might be worried that making a compensation claim against your employer will leave them financially hard up, but that won’t be the case.

Every employer is required by law to have employers’ liability insurance to cover the cost of such compensation claims, so they won’t be out of pocket.

Can I still claim compensation if I’ve left my job?

Some conditions caused at work – such as an occupational illness brought on by asbestos – may not appear for a while after the initial accident or exposure. In the meantime, you might have moved to a different company or changed careers altogether.

However, if you can prove that there’s a link between your injuries and your former place of work, you can still make a compensation claim, as long as the claim is made within three years of your diagnosis.

In some cases, your employer may have gone out of business altogether – especially if it’s been a long time since you worked there. If this applies to your situation, you can still make a compensation claim through your employer’s liability insurance. Their insurer will still be liable for your compensation, even after your former employer is no longer trading.

For free legal advice about claiming compensation for workplace injuries, speak to a legally trained advisor on 0800 234 6438, or by filling in one of the secure call back forms on this page.

What are my rights as an employee if I’m injured at work?

As an employee, if you’re injured at work, you are entitled to certain rights. These include:

  • The right to seek medical treatment straight away.
  • The right to be paid Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).
  • The right to attend medical appointments.
  • The right to take time to recover from the injuries sustained.
  • The right to request light duties while you recover.
  • The right to seek work injury compensation for injuries sustained at work, or for work related illness.
  • The right to be treated with dignity and respect by your employer at all times during the course of employment.

What can I do if my employer breaches my employment rights?

If an employer breaches any of your employment rights, you have a right to seek compensation.

The way you do this would depend on what sort of breach is involved, but many breaches – such as discrimination, being unfairly dismissed, or having unfair deductions made from your pay – would allow you to take your employer to an employment tribunal.

You’d usually need to make a claim to the tribunal within three months of your employment ending or the problem happening.

You must tell the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) that you intend to make a claim to the tribunal and you will usually have to go through Acas’s free ‘Early Conciliation’ service to see if your problem can be resolved without going to a tribunal. If early conciliation does not work, you can go to a tribunal and make a claim for compensation.

To find out more about claiming compensation, speak to a legally trained advisor on 0800 234 6438 for free specialist advice, or by filling in one of the secure call back forms on this page.

How do I prove my injuries are a workplace injury?

If you’ve been injured in a workplace accident and you want to claim compensation, you need to be able to prove that your employer was negligent in their duty of care towards you, and that you sustained injuries as a result of their negligence.

Ensuring proof of your injuries arising from a workplace incident can be daunting. You will need to prove that your employer was responsible for your injury and in order to prove this, you will need to show that your employer breached their duty of care towards you, and that this breach caused your injury.

There are, however, some very simple actions you can take to ensure that your claim is solid and you are awarded the maximum compensation to which you are entitled.

In a workplace injury claim, it’s important that you can prove:

  • The existence of a duty of care
  • A breach of that duty by the employer and/or its employees or contractors
  • Causation between the events – in other words, how exactly did the accident happen?

Start collecting evidence, receipts and documentation as soon as possible. Evidence you want to collect to corroborate your story can include:

Workplace accident book

Notify your employer immediately, ideally within 24 hours of the accident. Your employer should have an accident book and a first aid kit, so you can quickly fill in the details of what happened and when it happened, and move on with treatment.

If you’ve been injured by someone else on the job, then it’s also recommended that you notify your supervisor or manager immediately so they can keep an eye on things and prevent future accidents from happening.

Keep all receipts

When you’re dealing with a workplace injury, it’s important to keep all your receipts so that you can accurately document the costs of treatment and any other expenses associated with your injury.

If necessary, contact your employer’s HR department and ask for an itemised list of benefits available to you. You can use this information to work out how much money you’ve lost as a result of your injury.

Take photos at the scene of the accident

If you can do so safely, take photos of your injuries before seeking medical attention and keep them in a safe place where they won’t be damaged by water or heat.

In addition to this, also take photos of any damage to your clothing or equipment, as well as any witnesses who were involved in the accident. You should also document any other people who were present at the time of your workplace incident.

It may feel like an invasion of privacy, but it’s important that you don’t forget this step as it will help when it comes to proving that your injuries are related to a workplace injury.

Record witness statements

Remember to take witness statements from anyone who was involved in the accident. Make sure you record the date and time of the accident on the witness statement, as well as any other relevant information, such as contact details for future use.

Ask them to write down their account of what happened and if possible get them to sign it so there’s proof they were present at a given time.

Witness statements can be extremely valuable when it comes to proving your injuries are work related, especially if someone else witnessed what happened on that day or before/afterwards.

When taking these statements try not to influence them too much – just ask them what happened in their own words and record everything they say.

Seek medical attention

If you have been injured in a workplace accident, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Keep all of your receipts from any medical treatment your receive, and obtain a copy of your medical records as evidence.

How much compensation could I claim for an accident at work?

If you’ve been injured at work, the compensation you can claim for is likely to include:

  • Compensation for injuries and loss. This includes compensation for any actual or potential physical injuries, psychological damage, or loss of earnings that you may have suffered as a result of the accident.
  • Compensation for loss of earnings. This includes payments made by an employer or third party in respect of your inability to work as a result of your injury, including any statutory sick pay entitlement during this period.
  • Compensation for future loss of earnings. If there is uncertainty over whether or not you will be able to return to your job after recovering from your injuries, but before retirement age, then it may be possible to claim some form of compensation based on what might have been earned had no accident occurred at work.

The exact amount of money you can claim will fall to your personal injury team to determine. However, to give you an idea of how much you could receive, you can use the Judicial College Guidelines to guide you.

How long do I have to submit a compensation claim?

No matter what type of workplace injury you have suffered, if your injury wasn’t your fault, you have right to claim compensation. In most cases, that means making a claim for personal injury compensation. But how long do you have to file a personal injury claim? And what happens if you miss the deadline?

In most cases you have three years from when your accident happened to make a claim for compensation. However, this doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to make a claim after this time period has passed—it depends on the circumstances of your case.

In general, the three year rule is a legal time limit that applies to all types of personal injury claims. This means that your compensation claim will be time barred if you don’t submit it within three years from the date of the accident.

There are exceptions to the three year time limit, this include:

  • You’re claiming on behalf of a child. You can claim compensation at any time until their 18th birthday. After their 18th birthday, they then have three years to submit a claim.
  • If you don’t have the mental capacity to make a claim, there are no time limits to make a claim on behalf of someone who can’t do it for themselves.
  • You’re claiming compensation on behalf of someone who died – you have three years from the date of their death to claim compensation.

Making a personal injury claim

If your employer breached their duties under the health and safety laws and you were injured or left unable to work as a result, then you’re entitled to make a personal injury claim and seek compensation.

The first step in making a claim is to seek legal advice. For free advice about claiming compensation, speak to a legally trained advisor on 0800 234 6438, or by filling in one of the secure call back forms on this page.

They’ll ask you some questions about your injury and the accident which caused it, and will then be able to let you know whether they think you’ll be able to make a successful claim.

If you decide to go ahead, they’ll pass you on to specialist personal injury solicitors who will work on a no win no fee basis. Your personal injury solicitor will help you gather the evidence you need, such as medical reports and witness statements, to strengthen your case.

Your solicitor will refer you to a medical expert who will assess the cause of your injuries and how they have affected your life, and will fight hard to win you the compensation you deserve through an out of court settlement, or be with you every step of the way if your case has to go to court.

Other Important Information

*No Win No Fee

  • Although all our cases are handled on a no win no fee basis, other costs could be payable upon solicitors request. These will be fully explained to you before you proceed. Most customers will pay 25% (including VAT) of the compensation they are awarded to their law firm, although this may vary based on individual circumstances. Your solicitor may arrange for insurance to be in place for you to make sure your claim is risk free. Termination fees based on time spent may apply, or in situations such as: lack of cooperation or deliberately misleading our solicitors, or failing to go to any medical or expert examination, or court hearing.
  • *Criminal Injury Claims

  • If you want to make a claim for a criminal injury, you are not required to use the services of a claims management company to pursue the claim. You can submit your claim for free on your own behalf, directly to the Criminal Injury Compensation Authority (England, Wales, and Scotland) or the Criminal Injury Compensation Scheme (Northern Ireland).
About the Author

Nicola Laver LLB

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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