If you have an accident at work, your employer could be held liable. If so, you are allowed to pursue a work accident compensation claim.
In this article, we explain more about when an employer is responsible for a workplace accident or illness, and what you can do about it. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact our work accident solicitors for a free consultation.
No win no fee work accident solicitors – England and Wales
If you have been injured at work through no fault of your own, or you have developed a work-related illness, contact us at Ashmans Solicitors. We offer free legal advice and can explain your options in greater detail. We also operate on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis, so you only pay if your claim succeeds.
Who is responsible for your safety at work?
Your employer is responsible for your safety at work. In England and Wales, this responsibility is set out under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The law states that your employer has a duty of care towards you. This requires your employer to protect your health and safety at work so far as is reasonably practicable. Being ‘at work’ incorporates any scenario in which you are performing your work duties.
However, your employer is not expected to eradicate every single risk. That is why the law includes the wording ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’. This is a very legalistic term, but it basically means that your employer must take reasonable steps to prevent an accident, injury or illness in the workplace. The exact measures that should be taken depend on the circumstances, but might include:
- Providing proper training and supervision
- Providing personal protective equipment
- Maintaining machinery
- Employing a competent workforce
- Implementing safe work systems
- Carrying out risk assessments
- Signposting any hazards
- Keeping works areas well-lit and free from slip, trip or fall hazards
What about agency workers and contractors?
Employers also have a duty of care towards agency workers, temporary staff and contractors. In fact, it extends to anyone who is under the ‘control’ of the employer.
What are my responsibilities as an employee?
As an employee, you are also responsible for protecting your health and safety at work, and that of your co-workers. You are expected to follow the practices and protocols that have been implemented. You should not act recklessly in any way, such as by drinking alcohol at work or disregarding health and safety regulations.
Who is to blame for my work accident or illness?
If you have a work accident, or you develop a work-related illness, it is very likely that your employer is to blame. The only exception to this rule is where you disregarded the safety regulations and this led to an accident or illness. If this has happened, the courts may say that your employer is not at fault.
Otherwise, if you sustained injuries because your employer failed to take reasonable steps to protect your safety, then your employer is responsible. Common work-related accidents that happen because of employer negligence include:
- Slips, trips and falls
- Falls from a height
- Forklift truck accidents
- Accidents involving unsafe machinery
- Injuries that happen because of a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Injuries that happen because of a lack of training
- Crushing accidents
What if my co-worker is to blame?
If your work accident happened because your colleague acted recklessly, then your employer will still be held liable. Your employer has a duty to employ competent staff and supervise them accordingly. A failure to do so will amount to a breach of duty.
Why is my employer liable for my work accident?
The reason your employer will be held liable is that, as discussed above, they have a duty of care towards you. If this did not exist, then you could be exposed to all kinds of risks in the workplace, potentially resulting in widespread deaths, injuries and illnesses across the country. To prevent this from happening, the law places the onus on employers to protect the health and safety of their own workforce. If an accident or illness occurs, then it means something has gone wrong. Your employer has not put adequate provisions in place to safeguard you and your colleagues, causing you to suffer harm. Your employer will, therefore, be held liable.
Can I make a work accident claim?
If your employer is liable for your work accident or illness, then you are legally entitled to make a work accident claim. This is a type of personal injury claim, and is often referred to specifically as an employer’s liability claim. It involves taking legal against your employer and claiming compensation for the damages you have wrongfully incurred.
You can make a work accident claim if:
- Your employer is responsible for your accident or illness; and
- You suffered some kind of harm, be it physical, emotional or financial; and
- The accident or illness happened in the last three years, or you were diagnosed in the last three years
How do I find out if I can make a work accident claim?
If you think you could make a work accident claim, the easiest thing to do is to contact our solicitors for advice. We offer a free consultation, so you can find out for certain whether you are eligible to make a claim.
Call us now on 0333 009 6275. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
What if I’m partly responsible for a work accident?
If you are partly responsible for your work accident, then you might be worried that you cannot pursue a compensation claim. However, this is not necessarily the case. It is true that if you are 100% at fault, then the prospect of making a successful claim is very slim. But if you and your employer share liability, then you can still take legal action. The main difference is that your compensation settlement will be reduced by a certain percentage to reflect your involvement. This is known as contributory negligence, because you have contributed towards your injuries.
What should I do after a work accident?
If you are unfortunate enough to suffer an accident at work, there are some important things you must do, if you are able. These are:
- Get medical attention
- . Record the accident
- Check whether a RIDDOR report is needed
- Take photos and gather evidence
- Gather witness details
- Keep a diary
- Record your financial losses
- Speak to our solicitors
- Continue to seek medical treatment
- Do not admit fault
Find out more: What Are the First Crucial Steps to Take After an Injury at Work.
Are employers responsible for work-related illnesses?
Employers can be held liable for illnesses that developed due to their working conditions. For example, your employer could be held liable if you are diagnosed with:
- Pleural plaques
- Industrial deafness
- Respiratory disorders
- Musculo-skeletal disorders
- Other illnesses resulting from exposure to harmful substances
Questions have recently been raised as to whether an employer could be held liable if an employee catches Covid-19 at work. It very much depends on the evidence available. The problem with the coronavirus is that it is difficult to know where you caught it. For a claim to succeed, it would be necessary to prove that the employee contracted Covid-19 at work because reasonable safety precautions were not put in place.
Does my employer pay my compensation?
Your employer is legally obliged to have employers’ liability insurance in place. This insurance policy will cover the cost of your compensation settlement and your employer’s legal fees. So, you do not need to worry about your employer having to pay for your settlement out of their own pocket.
Find out more about Claiming for a Work Accident via Employers’ Liability Insurance.
How much work accident compensation will I get?
Every work accident claim attracts a different compensation award. The amount you receive depends on:
- The severity of your injuries
- The amount of pain and suffering you have been caused
- The extent of your financial losses
When you instruct our solicitors, you can be confident that we will carry out a thorough assessment of your physical, emotional and financial damages. We will then fight on your behalf to get the maximum amount of compensation. You will be awarded damages to reflect the injuries you have wrongfully endured. You will also be awarded damages to recover all your financial losses, including both past and future financial losses. The aim is that you are put back in the financial position you would have been in, had the accident or illness not happened.
Will I be sacked for making a work accident claim?
You cannot be dismissed or treated less favourably for making a work accident claim. It is your right to work in a safe environment. If this right is not upheld and you are harmed as a result, then it is also your right to seek redress. A work accident claim is your chance to access justice and your employer should not stand in your way.
If you are dismissed, selected for redundancy or harassed at work because you make a claim, then you should tell your solicitor. Your employment rights may have been breached, meaning you could actually be entitled to further damages.
Can relatives claim for a work-related accident?
If your loved one has died from their work-related injuries/illness, then you can bring a wrongful death claim. This allows you to claim for the terrible pain and suffering that has been caused, and to recover expenses such as funeral costs.
If your loved one survived but their injuries are so severe that he/she cannot bring a claim on their own, then you can manage the process on their behalf.
Speak to our work accident solicitors
If you have been injured at work, or your loved one has, contact us at Ashmans Solicitors. We offer free legal advice and can explain your options in greater detail. We also operate on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis, so you only pay if your claim succeeds.
Employer liability claims must be made within three years of the accident, or three years of the date of knowledge. Because of this, we recommend that you get early legal advice.
Call us now on 0333 009 6275. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.