You can still make a personal injury claim against an employer that no longer exists. However, the process is more complicated as it is necessary to track down their former insurance company. It is therefore vital that you instruct an experienced lawyer to manage your claim. This gives you the best chance of success.
Claiming against an employer that has ceased trading
There are times when someone suffers an injury or illness at work, but by the time he/she gets around to making a claim, the company has ceased trading. This might be because the business was insolvent and so went into administration or liquidation. Alternatively, it might just be that the owners decided to wind up operations.
If you find yourself in this position, you might worry that you have missed your chance to make a claim. This is a common misconception. In fact, you may still be able to obtain the compensation you deserve. However, the process differs from ‘normal’ work accident claims.
How to claim against a company that no longer exists
When making an accident at work claim against a company that no longer exists, the first step is to track down their former insurer. All employers in the UK are legally bound to have employers liability insurance. This covers the cost of any work accident claims that are made against an employer by staff or sub-contractors.
So long as your former employer paid their insurance in full, then the policy will be valid for any work accidents that occurred during the policy period. Our solicitors can trace your employer’s insurer. We can then liaise directly with the insurance company, pursuing a claim for your damages.
The policy excess
However, one thing that we will be mindful of is the policy’s excess. When your former employer took out the insurance policy, the company will have agreed to pay an excess in the event of a claim. For example, the business may have agreed to pay the first £2,000. Any costs above this would then be paid by the insurance company.
If your former employer no longer exists, there will be no one to cover the excess. Instead, it may have to be deducted from your compensation. Using the above example, if you receive a settlement of £10,000, £2,000 would be deducted from your settlement, plus any other fees or costs. If your claim is very low in value, this could negate the claim entirely.
We will check the policy’s excess before proceeding with your claim, advising you as to the best way forward.
Companies in administration or liquidation
But what about if your former employer has not only ceased trading – they have actually been dissolved due to financial difficulties?
Even if your former employer has been declared insolvent, you may still be able to make a claim. If the company is currently in the hands of an administrator or liquidator, you will effectively become a creditor. The insolvency practitioner must then devise a strategy for the repayment of the company’s debts – including any damages owed to you.
If the company has already been dissolved, a claim can be made against their insurance company. However, this depends on the business has paid for their policy. If the business was struggling financially and failed to meet their insurance payments, then the policy will be void. Alternatively, your employer may not have had any insurance in the first place.
What happens if there was no insurance policy?
The absence of an insurance policy will present difficulties for you as the claimant. It may be possible to pursue a claim directly against the business owners. However, this is not applicable in the case of limited companies, as directors cannot be held personally liable for a company’s costs. The only exception is where it can be established that a director failed to meet their duties. If so, he/she may be held responsible.
Otherwise, it may be possible to seek recourse through a government scheme, such as the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit. This is given to people who became ill or disabled due to an injury or illness at work.
What are the time limits to make a claim?
Work accident claims must be made within three years of the accident. If your former employer has ceased trading, then it is likely that some time has passed since you sustained your work-related injury or illness. If so, we recommend that you speak to a solicitor immediately. Any further delay could mean that you miss your chance to make a claim.
Industrial disease claims against employers who no longer exist
There are some exceptions to these three rule year. One example is where an employee has developed an injury or illness at work, but this is not immediately apparent. This is typically the case with industrial diseases, which often only manifest many years after the initial exposure. If so, the claimant can rely on a later date of knowledge. This means the three-year window begins on the date that he/she was diagnosed with the illness, or should have reasonably suspected that there were grounds for a claim.
If you have just been diagnosed with an industrial disease, then it is possible that your former company has ceased trading – especially if a significant amount of time has elapsed. However, this does not bar you from making a personal injury claim for mesothelioma, asbestosis or any other work-related illness. As long as your employer had employers’ liability insurance, you stand a good chance of receiving the compensation you deserve. More on the exceptions on the 3 year accidents claim limit.
Speak to our personal injury lawyers Dewsbury
Making a work accident claim against an employer that no longer exists does present challenges. We will investigate the circumstances of your work-related injury or illness to see if you are able to make a claim. We will explore every option available, as we want to see that you are fairly compensated for your damages.
To make a claim against a current or former employer, please contact us at Ashmans Solicitors for a free consultation.
You can call us now on 0333 009 6275. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.