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Scaffolding Accident Claims

Claiming compensation for a scaffolding accident

Repairs and maintenance to the majority of tall buildings, whether residential or commercial, is impractical without scaffolding being erected. However, with scaffolding comes the risk of accident – whether you’re an employee working on site or an unsuspecting passer-by.

Scaffolding is a critical temporary structure which provides support and, importantly, the ability for workers to access the elevated parts of a building that they would not otherwise reach.

Much safer than ladders, today’s modern scaffolding comprises long metal poles (‘standards’) each connected to a base plate; ‘ledgers’ that run horizontally to those poles; guardrails; and worker platforms. There are further components including braces and fittings.

Unfortunately, if the scaffolding is not erected properly, regularly checked, or a worker is not trained in how to work safely on scaffolding – there is a heightened risk of a scaffolding accident leading to personal injury. Scaffolding accidents can also cause injury to a member of the public.

However, we all expect to be able to go to work, do our job and come home safely at the end of our working shift. It is, after all, our employer’s responsibility to make sure we are safe.

So where a scaffolding accident happens through no fault of your own, someone else should be held responsible and asked to pay scaffolding accident compensation for your injuries.

The reality is, most workplace accidents are avoidable if more care was taken. If you’ve had a scaffolding accident, call 0800 234 6438 for guidance about how you can bring your no win no fee scaffolding accident claim for personal injury compensation.

DID YOU KNOW: In 2021, the Health and Safety Executive fined two firms a total of £10,000 after one of the firm owners erected scaffolding on a terraced house in Wimbledon, South London without being fully qualified. It resulted in a construction worker falling to his death through a 6 metre wide gap.

Unsafe scaffolding and work site compensation

Scaffolding sites can be highly dangerous. If a worker falls from a scaffold, they are likely to suffer serious injuries. A scaffolding pole can also cause significant harm to anyone it hits.

Those erecting and taking down scaffolds, such as a construction site worker, are at particular risk because they are doing so while not all the scaffold components are in place. It’s not hard to see how something can go wrong.

This is why businesses and employers owe those on site a legal duty to protect them from the risk of injury and harm. If they breach their duties, and someone is injured or even killed as a result, the employer can be held legally responsible.

To find out if you’re eligible to make a personal injury claim for your scaffolding accident, get in touch with a legal adviser for free on 0800 234 6438 – or submit your name and number using the form on this page to request a call back.

DID YOU KNOW: The largest ever commercial scaffolding project in the UK is underway for the repair and restoration of Manchester’s ‘Our Town Hall’. It is set to cost £330 million and will last for at least six years.

What is a scaffolding accident?

Scaffolding accidents can happen on any site where scaffolding has been erected. Usually, scaffolds are erected on construction and building sites but can be found in and around other places such as warehouses, factories and agricultural buildings.

This means other claims, such as factory accident claims, construction site accidents, faulty work equipment claims, forklift accidents and agricultural and farming accidents can also involve injuries caused by scaffolding.

A scaffolding accident can be caused by a range of different factors such as:

DID YOU KNOW: Accident statistics show that during 2020, 81 injuries were suffered by workers on scaffolding from a total of 16,084 operatives – with slips and trips being the main cause of injury to workers.

Your right to make a scaffolding claim

Scaffolding accidents can cause serious injuries, sometimes scaffolding injuries include severe brain injuries, life-changing injuries or even death. In the majority of cases, accidents involving scaffolding are caused by employer negligence – in which case, individuals can bring scaffolding accident injury claims.

To make a successful scaffolding accident compensation claim, your specialist solicitor only needs to prove your employer breached its duty of care towards you, and that the accident and your injuries were the direct result of their negligence or breach of duty.

If you’ve lost a loved one as a result of a scaffolding accident, you may think you can’t claim – however, a relative can bring a fatal accident claim on behalf of scaffolding accident victims’ dependants. You can also bring a claim on behalf of a relative if an accident happened involving scaffolding equipment and, eg a serious head injury occurs and they cannot bring a claim themselves.

What type of scaffolding injuries are there?

Common injuries sustained as a result of faulty scaffolding or scaffolding structures include leg injuries, broken bones, internal and external lacerations, head injuries and severe bruising. Scaffolding accidents can also cause back injuries and electric shocks.

We understand that a scaffolding accident can prove catastrophic. A scaffolding collapse, for example, can cause internal injuries and can even cause life-changing injuries or prove fatal.

To find out if you’re eligible to make a claim for your scaffolding accident, get in touch with a legal adviser for free on 0800 234 6438 – or submit your name and number using the form on this page for them to call you.

How do I claim scaffolding accident compensation?

Scaffolding accident claims should be started as soon as you’re able to while events are still relatively fresh in your mind. Firstly, you should seek medical treatment, then – when’s your injuries allow you – get in touch with an experienced legal adviser who will be able to guide you through the no win no fee claim process.

They will simply take a few details about how the accident occurred, explain what happens when making a scaffolding accident claim and then partner you with the right solicitor for your case.

The specialist solicitor will then take more detailed information from you, so it is important that you gather all the information you can. This may include:

If you’ve not already seen a doctor – it is vital you seek medical advice and treatment as soon as possible because your solicitor will need medical evidence to support your claim.

Your lawyer will explain the scaffolding accident claims process with you, guiding you through the initial steps and advising you of the options, depending on whether the other side accepts responsibility. Thankfully, most injury claims are settled without going to court.

You can get in touch with a legal adviser for free on 0800 234 6438 – even if you’re not sure you can make a claim – or request a call back by entering your name and number on the forms on this page. An adviser will be able to give you advice about whether or not you can proceed with a claim.

Will I have to go to see a solicitor?

You don’t have to see a solicitor to make your scaffolding accident claim, but a specialist injury solicitor is always best placed to ensure your employer is held accountable for your injuries.

The risks of not instructing an injury solicitor following an accident at work can include receiving a lower level of compensation than you deserve – or accident claims even failing. You would also be up against an insurance company. They can be very difficult to negotiate with, but injury solicitors deal with insurers every day and are used to it.

We sugges the best option is to take legal advice and discuss it with a specialist solicitor before deciding how to proceed. It won’t cost you anything to discuss it.

Not only that, as your solicitor will take your case on a no win no fee basis, you won’t have to pay any fees if you lose.

Will I have to go to court?

The thought of going to court can be distressing but you can be reassured that most cases settle before court action becomes necessary. In fact, only about 1 in 100 personal injury claims reach court.

The fact is, no one wants to go to court – not even a defendant insurance company. Instead, the parties work to negotiate a fair level of damages until agreement is reached.

In the unlikely event an appearance in court becomes necessary, your solicitor would be able to prepare you for the experience and will be on hand to give you any advice required.

I have an injury from a scaffolding incident on an unsafe work site – what should I do?

When accidents involving scaffolding happen and you’ve suffered an injury, you can probably make a scaffolding accident claim. To discuss your options, call a legal adviser as soon as possible. They will be able to put you in touch with an expert injury solicitor who can help you make a claim for compensation.

We also strongly suggest you:

It is also sensible to keep a diary of what has happened and how your symptoms progress. This is an important part of the evidence solicitors need to make no win no fee scaffolding accident claims.

Is my employer responsible for making the work site safe?

Your employer has strict legal duties to ensure the safety of the scaffolding and the general work site for those working there. If their duties are breached, they can be held to account by facing a scaffolding accident claim.

Employers have general duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, including:

Employers must also comply with specific rules and regulations where applicable. For example, the Work at Height Regulations 2005 impose a duty on employers (and those in control of work carried out at height) to prevent death and injury from falls from height.

So, if your injuries were caused as a result of work carried out ‘at height’ but there were inadequate safety procedures in place, the employer should have ensured the work was properly planned and supervised; and that you were competent to do it.

The Health and Safety Executive also offers detailed guidance for employers. The guidance suggests that scaffolds should be designed, erected, altered and dismantled only by competent people and the work should be carried out under the direction of a competent supervisor.

Scaffolding should also be inspected (by a competent person) after installation before it is used and then at least once every 7 days going forward.

Where employers skip any of these important steps and scaffolding accidents and injuries result, the injured worker can claim compensation.

DID YOU KNOW: In 2018, there was a 27% rise in the number of scaffolding accidents in the UK.

Does my employer have to formally report my injuries?

Employers have statutory reporting duties under RIDDOR (the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013). Incidents classified as ‘dangerous occurrences’ including scaffolding collapses, must be reported to the HSE within 10 days.

Reportable injuries include broken or amputated fingers, toes or limbs; crush injuries; and head injuries causing unconsciousness. It’s worth checking with your employer to see if they have made a formal report and tell your solicitor.

Self-employed scaffolding accident claims

Workers on building sites are often self-employed and have fewer rights than employees in many ways. It can therefore be a real worry if you’ve been injured – particularly given you may not be entitled to paid time off work while you recover.

Thankfully, if you are self-employed and were injured in a scaffolding accident, you can still make a scaffolding accident claim. The health and safety rules and regulations apply to protect all workers, irrespective of employment status.

What if I’m on a zero hour contract?

As mentioned above, employers’ health and safety duties extend to everyone working on site, including those on zero hours contracts and agency workers.

You are afforded health and safety protection in the same way as other workers. This means zero contract workers can bring scaffolding accident claims if they have suffered a scaffolding injury.

What happens if my employer goes bust?

If your employer’s business has gone under, you should still be able to bring a compensation claim. Your employer should have had liability insurance in place, in which case your claim will be against the insurer instead.

How does the accident at work claim process work?

Making scaffolding accident claims is not as difficult as you might imagine. As with any work accidents claims process, it begins with an initial chat with a legal adviser, free of charge, on 0800 234 6438. They will talk you through how the process works – and they will never pressurise you into taking your compensation claim forward.

Once you’re happy to take the next step, they will put you in touch with a specialist scaffolding accident claims solicitor.

They’ll answer any further questions you have and provide a free consultation on the next steps your case may take. If you decide to go ahead, your solicitor will become your main contact – they’ll be available when you have further questions and will keep you updated on your claim’s progress.

If you proceed, your solicitor will then need more details about the accident involving scaffolding and its impact on your life. This will enable them to ensure they can secure the compensation you deserve.

They will then notify your employer (and their insurance company, who will deal with the claim on the employer’s behalf).

Could I settle my compensation claim without going to court?

Your solicitor will negotiate with the other side and work on your behalf to agree a fair settlement figure. If you’re wondering how much scaffolding accident compensation you could settle for, your solicitor will try to negotiate the maximum amount possible with your employer’s insurer.

If the other side makes an offer of compensation to settle your scaffolding accident claim, your solicitor will talk you through the offer and advise you whether or not to accept. Thankfully, most claims are settled and it is highly unlikely you’ll have to go to court.

Assuming you make a successful claim and a settlement is reached, you will be paid your compensation (usually within two to four weeks) – allowing you to get on with your life.

Will I need to provide proof?

Yes, your solicitor will need to demonstrate how your accident occurred, together with the nature and extent of your injuries. The more evidence claimants can provide, the greater the prospects of successful claims, such as names of other construction workers who can provide witness statements, and photographs of the scene.

The most important evidence your solicitor will need for making a scaffolding accident case is medical evidence. Your solicitor will ask for your permission to contact your GP and any other doctors you have already seen, to gain access to copies of your medical records.

They will also arrange for you to have a specialist medical examination undertaken by a professional with expertise in your type of injury. This medical expert will then produce a medical report to support your compensation claim.

You don’t need to worry about the cost of this as it will be covered by your no win no fee agreement.  

I was injured as a member of the public – can I claim?

The simple answer is yes. A business owes a duty to members of the public and visitors onsite, as well as to workers. The Occupiers Liability Act 1957 requires a business to take reasonable steps to ensure that the environment is safe for visitors – and that members of the public are not put at an unreasonable risk to their safety.

So, if you were a member of the public and you’ve suffered personal injury following a scaffolding accident, it is important to take specialist legal advice to enable you to claim compensation.

Is there a maximum time frame to claim compensation?

As in most personal injury cases, you usually have three years from the date of the scaffolding accident to start legal proceedings for compensation. After three years, you may be ‘time-barred’ from making a compensation claim.

If in doubt, don’t assume you can’t make a claim if the three-year period has passed. We strongly recommend talking things through with specialist solicitors so that you’re fully aware of your legal rights.

How much compensation will my claim be worth?

This depends on the nature and extent of your scaffolding injury as no two injuries or scaffolding accident claims are the same. Key factors your solicitor will consider when estimating how much you deserve include:

One part of your compensation will be for the impact your injuries have on you physically. This is known as ‘general damages’ and your solicitor will work hard to secure maximum compensation for you.

You can also claim for your financial losses – known as ‘special damages’.

General damages

Helpfully, there are formal judicial guidelines which help lawyers calculate how much compensation someone could be entitled to by way of injury compensation.

For example:

These examples show the wide range of compensation potentially available and how difficult it is to estimate early on how much you’re entitled to.

The wisest thing you can do is to get in touch with an injury solicitor to discuss your own, unique situation. Your solicitor will be able to give you a more accurate picture of how much compensation you deserve.

Special damages

You can also claim for ‘special damages’ to cover any financial losses, including lost earnings (past and in the future) that are linked to your scaffolding accident. Your solicitor will ask you for detailed information about the financial impact, including:

Make sure you retain any receipts and any invoices that can be used as part of your claim.

How long does it take to make a scaffolding accident claim?

Minor scaffolding accident claims where the employer accepts liability can usually be concluded quickly. On the other hand, it usually takes longer – 2 to 3 years or so – where liability is not accepted. Your solicitor will build as strong a case as possible to persuade your employer to admit fault.

Reassuringly, there are important court rules such as pre-action protocols, that aim to keep personal injury claims within a manageable time frame and to encourage an early settlement.

Your solicitor will be able to talk you through the time scales of what the process involves and steps that can be taken to speed things up.

Can I get an interim compensation payment?

In some cases, yes, though it depends on whether the employer admits liability for your injuries. If you have been seriously injured and you are struggling financially, you may be able to secure interim payments of compensation to cover any immediate expenses ahead of a final settlement.

Insurance companies appreciate that in the most serious injury cases, interim payments can make a huge difference to your recovery. Your solicitor will talk this through with you.

If I make a claim, will it put my job at risk?

We understand that workers are often worried about possible repercussions if they make scaffolding accident claims.

People don’t willingly make life difficult for the employer; and having exposed problems relating to workplace safety – particularly if you plan to return to work – can be a huge worry.

Thankfully, there are laws in place to protect you from being unfairly dismissed or treated differently, such as the Employment Rights Act 1996. Quite simply, it’s illegal for you to be fired or disciplined for making a work accident claim against an employer.

This means that in the unlikely event you do lose your job, or were harassed for making your claim, you’ll be able to take legal action against your employer because such behaviour is unlawful.

If you find yourself in a difficult position at work as a direct result of your injury claim, talk to your solicitor. You may consider taking action because there could be an unfair dismissal claim in addition to your injury claim.

You may also be wondering: will my employer be left out of pocket? We understand this worry can put additional emotional pressure on you if you’re concerned that to make a claim will cost your employer financially.

However, your employer will have insurance covering the risk of scaffolding accident claims. This means that if you do win compensation, the insurer will make the pay out – not the employer.

What if the scaffolding accident was partly my fault?

In most scaffolding accidents, the employer is to blame because usually they will be found to have breached health and safety rules.

However, in some cases the worker may be at least partly to blame.  Firstly, it is important to know that even if you think you were to blame for what has happened – you may find, having spoken with a specialist solicitor – that someone else’s negligence was also involved.

Even if you were partly to blame, that does not stop you from claiming compensation. It simply means you won’t get the full amount of compensation you would otherwise receive. This is called ‘contributory negligence’ and will impact how much compensation you will receive. So, if you were found 25% at fault for what happened, your compensation would be reduced by 25% to reflect your contributory negligence.

If you were completely at fault, you will not be able to recover any compensation.

If your employer insists you were to blame, your solicitor will work hard to prove that your employer was partly or fully at fault, in order to secure maximum compensation.

While I am off work, am I entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)?

If you are employed and have been injured at work and you need more than four consecutive days off sick to recover, you should be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (currently £99.35 per week for up to 28 weeks).

Many employers are more generous and will pay more than the SSP rate to injured employees. Your contract of employment may state what your entitlement is in these circumstances, or your employer will be able to tell you if it operates a sick pay scheme.

In some cases, an employer who is clearly liable for your scaffolding injuries may agree to pay more generously, even if they don’t have to. This would be separate to worker personal injury claims.

If you’re self-employed and need time off work, you’re not entitled to SSP but you may be entitled to other benefits, such as employment and support allowance. Your solicitor will be able to discuss these possibilities with you.

You may also be entitled to industrial injuries disablement benefit. How much you would be entitled to depends on nature and extent of your disability (you must be at least 14% disabled). The maximum amount available is currently £188.60 per week.

If you’d like to get more advice, you can speak to a legal adviser for free on 0800 234 6438, or enter your details in the form below to request a call back.

DID YOU KNOW: A scaffolder suffered a 48,000-volt electric shock after a metal tube that he had been lifting touched an overhead power line. The scaffolding accident took place in late 2021 and caused life-changing injuries.
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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