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

As a worker, you have every right to work in a safe environment and carry out your duties without suffering accident or ill health.  No one should go to work feeling unsafe because of a workplace that involves unnecessary safety risks.

While many workplaces are inherently more dangerous than others, e.g. construction sites and warehouses, regulations are in place to ensure all employers, whatever the industry, assess and identify the risks so that they can then minimise the risks to their workers.

Because of the high level of health and safety regulations in Britain, most accidents at work result from employer negligence and are avoidable. So when accidents happen and workers suffer injuries, they cause unnecessary pain and potential financial hardship from their lost income.

The fact is, every UK employer’s responsibilities are to keep workers safe from the risk of harm. This means your employer has a duty of care to minimise the risks of accidents in the workplace, whether you”re working in a factory or office, hospital or warehouse – or any other working environment.

If the employer fails in their legal duty and are negligent, there is a high chance employees will be injured in work accidents, and work claims could then ensue. Work accidents can be caused, for example when an employer fails to provide adequate personal protective equipment, proper training isn’t provided, they fail to put in place effective warning signs or to keep equipment repaired and maintained. Even failing to undertake regular risk assessments can amount to a breach.

So if you’ve suffered injuries caused at work because of your employer’s negligence, you have every right to be asking: I had an accident at work – what are my rights? To find out if you can claim compensation get in touch as early as you can for a free initial chat with a trained legal advise on 0800 234 6438 – or submit your name and number using the form on this page to request a call back.

You can read more about your employer’s legal duties and responsibilities here:

What should I do if I have an accident at work?

If an accident occurred at work because of employer negligence and you have been injured, you can take the first steps to claiming personal injury compensation (as long as you’re within the time limit). We understand you’re probably angry about what’s happened and worried about your physical and financial future. But as soon as you feel able to, you should get the ball rolling.

It’s important to remember that you have a time limit of three years from the date of the accident in which to start a work injury claim. To keep well within the time limit, contact expert accident at work lawyers as early as you can for advice on making work accident claims. You should:

  • Call for free legal advice about making work compensation claims on 0800 234 6438. Alternatively, use the contact form here and leave your contact details to request a call back.

  • Report the accident to your employer who should record it in their accident book.

  • See a doctor as soon as you can, even if you don’t think you need medical attention – the medical evidence, including any further medical appointments, will be important for your case.

  • If possible keep photographs and a documentary record, such as a diary, of your injuries and recovery.

  • Keep records of any money you’ve had to pay out for travel expenses, treatment and so on.

When you start a claim, be assured you are not legally obliged to continue. There is never any obligation on injured individuals at any stage from when they first speak with our advisors about accident at work claims. The important thing is to seek legal advice before making any decisions.

DID YOU KNOW: Employers are legally required to report many types of injury caused in the workplace, including bone fractures, amputations, serious eye injuries, serious burns and crush injuries, and other serious injuries.

What if I was to blame?

It is common and understandable for an injured worker to assume they must somehow be to blame, at least in part, for the accident and can’t therefore claim compensation. However, in most cases that is not the case from the legal perspective – the employer’s negligence is usually the direct cause of the accident.

There are cases where the worker may be partially to blame, for example, they did not adhere strictly to their training or took a short cut with a machine which needed maintenance. In those circumstances, the worker can still make a compensation claim, but contributory negligence could be found. The result is that the level of damages awarded would be reduced to reflect the extent to which the worker was responsible.

If you are concerned about any fault on your part, don’t write off your own claim before taking free legal advice from accident at work solicitors. Call now on

Call now on 0800 234 6438, or if you prefer – complete the online contact form and leave your contact details to request a call back.

What can I claim compensation for after an accident at work?

One of the key questions for anyone asking – I had an accident at work, what are my rights? – is what compensation they will be entitled to claim for. The purpose of injury compensation is two-fold:

  1. To compensate you for the injuries you’ve suffered. This is called ‘general damages’ and you can claim for your injuries and the pain and suffering to your own health. This extends to psychological trauma.
  2. To reimburse you for any financial losses caused as result of the accident, including anticipated costs. This is called ‘special damages’

General damages

In successful personal injury claims, general damages will reflect the nature and extent of the accident and your injuries. To illustrate how this works in practice, compensation for a significant back injury or severe burns will attracted a much larger compensation payout than a broken finger.

The more serious your injuries and the longer it takes you to recover, the greater the level of compensation you can expect to win following a personal injury claim. Where your injuries have sadly caused long-term or even permanent disability or disfigurement, you can rightly expect a substantial payout if your compensation claim succeeds.

Special damages

Special damages are intended to refund you for financial losses caused directly by the accident at work following employer negligence. You’re likely to have had time off work in the aftermath of the accident, and potentially a longer period at home while you recover. If, during any of your time off as a result of the accident, you received less than your normal wages you can seek compensation for loss of earnings.

Sadly, some injured workers are unable to return to their previous job and have to take a less well paid position because of the lasting impact of their injuries. Thankfully the law recognises the financial impact and allows you to claim compensation to reflect future loss of future earnings.

The underlying principle is to leave you in no worse a position than you were in before your accident at work occurred. This means you can also claim a refund for damaged items, such as clothing, or the cost of repairs; travel and medical expenses; and the anticipated costs of necessary medical treatment in future.

Your personal injury solicitor will be happy to discuss the full issue of compensation and explain how it works in practice.

Can I be fired for having an accident at work?

All employers are legally required to hold public liability insurance to cover the risk of personal injuries in the workplace. If you’re successful, your compensation will be paid through your employers liability insurance company.

After your initial conversation, if you wish to proceed, your adviser can pass you on to one of their expert partner solicitors. They’ll talk through some of the details of your accident and injuries and will weigh up your chance of success based on whether the other side is likely to be liable (responsible) for your injuries.

When the specialist injury lawyer takes your claim, they will deal with the groundwork on your behalf. This means you don’t need to worry about being out of your depth and you can concentrate on your recovery.

Your personal injury solicitor will never take a claim forward if they don’t think there’s a chance of success – that wouldn’t be fair on you and could also be costly for them.

Do I lose my pension if I get fired?

No – in the unlikely event that you were fired – even if illegally – you would not lose your workplace pension, but it could have an impact. Your pension contributions would stop and it would be classed as a dormant or ‘old’ pension.

In circumstances where you are reinstated to your job, for example because you’ve won your employment tribunal case, your workplace pension can then continue.

But if you were to take a new job with a different employer, you could combine the now dormant pension with a new workplace pension.

A particular challenge if you are fired is that there could also be an overall reduction in the value of pension benefits – the problem is knowing how much it may be devalued. Helpfully, there is detailed guidance for legal advisers and Employment Tribunals setting out principles to follow in calculating the approximate value of pension losses.

If you are concerned about the impact on your workplace pension, it can be useful to pass on any information, such as pension statements, to your legal advisers to help them quantify any potential losses to your pension benefits.

DID YOU KNOW: In 2022-2023, 135 workers have been killed in work-related accidents. Source: Health and Safety Executive

Do I get full pay if I’m injured at work?

One of the most common and understandable concerns uppermost in the mind of any worker who has suffered a workplace injury is the potential impact on their income. You still have bills to pay and have to put food on the table.

Unfortunately, there is no automatic legal right to continue receiving full pay if you’ve been injured at work. Even if the workplace accident was caused by the employer’s health and safety breaches, they are not automatically obliged to pay you any more than statutory sick pay while you’re off work.

Your contract of employment may set out your work related benefits, such as the pay you are entitled to if you have to take time off sick. Make sure you check the terms of your contract (or terms of employment if you don’t have a formal contract) to see what it says. Your employer may have a sick pay scheme in operation.

If there is no contractual right to being paid normal (or even reduced) wages while you recover from your workplace injuries, your employer may nevertheless agree to pay you as normal as a gesture of goodwill – until your return to work or for a limited period of time. This is not uncommon where an employee has been injured in the workplace.

Will I get sick pay after an accident at work?

The financial worry caused by an accident at work will be significant if you’re not entitled to full or reduced pay from your employer. Thankfully, the government pays statutory sick pay (SSP) to eligible workers, and while it will probably not be anywhere near the level of your usual wages, it will soften the financial blow to some extent.

Employees

If you’re employed, you may be entitled to SSP from your employer. The weekly rate of SSP is £116.75 (as May 2024) for a maximum of 28 weeks.

To qualify for SSP, you must have reported your workplace injury or illness to the employer (they must record it in the company accident book); you must have been off work for at least four consecutive days; and earn more than £123 a week.

The level of SSP is low compared to most people’s salaries and can place injured workers in a difficult financial position. Though you will be able to claim the difference between your normal wages and SSP, it could be many months if not years before you receive your compensation.

Other workers entitled to SSP

Even if you’re not called an ’employee’ you may be classed as having employee status and entitled to SSP.  This includes agency workers, those on casual or fixed term contracts or on zero-hours contracts – so long as you meet certain criteria.

To claim SSP, you must have had a minimum of 3 months’ continuous employment. There are further conditions so you should seek further advice if you’re unsure about your SSP entitlement.

Self-employed

If you’re self-employed you are not entitled to SSP, but you may be entitled to other benefits such as Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). ESA is assessed and paid out on a two-tier basis:

  • Individuals who can go back to work in future – up to £84.80 per week (as at November 2023)
  • Individuals unable to return to work because of illness or disability – up to £129.50

Make sure you give your work injury lawyers details of any SSP or ESA you’re receiving as they will need to take it into account in your special damages claim.

It is not an ‘either/or’ as far as working and the availability of ESA is concerned: you may be able to claim ESA even if you’ve returned to work, but your duties have to be reduced or restricted.

DID YOU KNOW: In the workplace, unsafe behaviour is responsible for an increasing percentage of accidents. In the year to 2022, 565,000 people sustained a workplace injury – a jump of 28% Source: Health and Safety Executive via Labour Force Survey
 

Can I claim compensation for an accident at work?

When any worker is involved in a workplace accident, it is only a matter of time before they start to ask: Can I claim compensation for an accident at work?

The reality is that in most cases, workplace accidents are caused by some form of breach of health and safety legislation. Even if the injured worker was partly to blame, the employer can still be held responsible and will have to pay out compensation for what happened.

You can claim compensation for injuries sustained at work, as well as loss of earnings and any other financial losses caused by the accident. There is no average or set amounts of compensation for specific types of workplace injuries because each case is different; every individual is unique; each injury is different; and people’s recovery times vary significantly.

However, a range of examples help to illustrate the ranges of compensation award that could be paid out for a specific type or injury (depending on its severity).  Below are examples which are provided in a set of guidelines that work injury lawyers and judges refer to when calculating fair levels of compensation.

  • Simple jaw fracture with full recovery – £6,600 – £8,300
  • Very serious jaw fracture leaving lasting damage –£28,650 to £42,750
  • Moderate back injuries – £10,450 – £23,210
  • Elbow injury leaving ongoing pain or disability – £19,200 – £`30,930
  • Moderate knee injury – up to £26,190
  • Moderate shoulder injury – £7,890 – £12,770
  • Significant disfiguring facial scarring – £9,110 – £30,090
  • Minor brain injury – £2,210 – £12,770
  • Severe eye injuries leaving loss of vision in one eye – up to £23,680 – 39,340
  • Moderately severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – £23,150 – £59,860

Accident at work lawyer

Your specialist accident at work lawyer will reassure you from the very start – explaining in simple terms how you can start your personal injury claim. They will ask you about what happened, set out the process of making a claim following your accident at work and what you can expect.

Below is a brief summary of what your personal injury solicitor will do for you:

1. Ask you what happened

In your initial consultation, your lawyer will need to know as much information as possible, so be prepared for what you will be asked about:

  • Where the accident happened
  • How it happened and what you were doing at the time
  • Your injuries and how your recovery is going
  • The medical treatment you received
  • Who you think is responsible for the accident
  • Details of any witnesses to the accident
  • Who the accident was reported to
  • Any evidence that will help your case, such as CCTV footage and photographs
  • The impact on your work, family and social life

You’ll be able to raise any questions you have about what happened and the process itself.

2. Build your case

Your lawyer will determine who should be held legally responsible for your accident. They will also gather all the information and evidence to build the strongest possible case on your behalf. This will include contacting witnesses and anyone else who may have information that can help with your claim.

The lawyer will formally request your medical notes and medical records relating to the accident; and arrange for you to have an expert examination and medical report on your injuries.

They will work hard to quantify the amount of compensation you are entitled to. If you are claiming for loss of earnings, costs of medical treatment and other medical expenses, etc, they will need invoices and pay slips to enable your losses to be calculated.

3. Quantify your claim

Your lawyer will value what your claim is worth. You can be reassured that they are highly experienced in calculating the maximum compensation you can expect to receive. Compensation will be calculated to take into account the extent of your pain and suffering as well as the financial impact of that you’ve suffered.

4. Seek compensation

Your lawyer will contact the other side (usually the employer’s insurance company) to set out the basis of your compensation claim. The aim is to persuade the insurer to admit liability for what happened to you and to negotiate a settlement.

Even if they don’t accept liability, it can still be possible to negotiate a settlement with the insurer. It’s very reassuring to appreciate that in reality, the majority of personal injury claims are settled out of court.

In the unlikely event your lawyer cannot reach a fair settlement on your behalf, you may have to go to court. If your solicitor tells you it may be necessary to begin court proceedings, they will guide you through the personal injury claims process and what you can expect. We understand the prospect of court proceedings can seem daunting, but your lawyers will support you throughout.

How much does it cost to make an accident at work claim?

Although it can, in theory, costs £1,000s to make a legal claim – the good news is that you will not have to worry about the financial impact of making a work accident claim. This is because your accident at work lawyer will take on your claim on a ‘no win no fee’ basis, removing any financial risks to you.

This means that if your claim is not successful, you will not have to fund any legal costs and fees that have been incurred in the claims process. Instead, your legal professionals will recover their costs under an insurance policy taken out at the start of your claim.

If you win your claim, you will be paid your compensation. Out of your compensation, you will pay a proportion of it (never more than 25%) to your lawyers to cover your legal fees and costs. This is called a ‘solicitors’ success fee’.

Your lawyers will talk you through how ‘no win no fee’ claims work at the start of your claim when you agree the terms of a Conditional Fee Agreement.

For more information about No Win No Fee accident claims read here.

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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