Can I claim for an accident at work?
If you’ve been injured at work in the last three years and it wasn’t your fault, you may be able to claim compensation. Injuries and work-related illnesses are often caused by employers and managers failing to follow health and safety rules.
Common reasons include:
- Dangerous working practices.
- Poor or non-existent personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Weak risk assessments.
- Preventable spillages.
- Unsatisfactory or poorly enforced safety procedures.
- Badly-maintained equipment.
Most of us depend on our income. That’s why accidents at work can be even more stressful for the individual and their family. You may have been off work or perhaps even had to quit your job entirely as a result of your accident. Lost earnings may have left you unable to pay household bills, care for your family or meet other commitments.
You don’t deserve to feel anxious about your health, job or money after an accident at work. That’s why we’re here to help you make it right. With the right advice and the right help – right when you need it the most.
Did you know?
There were nearly 610,000 accidents at work in 2016/17,
according to the Health and Safety Executive.
That’s an average of nearly 2,500 every working day of the year.
What is the law on accidents at work?
What is the law on accidents at work?
Health & Safety regulations protect us all in the workplace. Employers have a legal duty of care to provide adequate training and protection. They are also obliged to maintain a safe working environment that reduces risk. Making a claim against your employer can feel daunting. But when an accident is avoidable, always remember that the law is on your side.
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How much compensation could I claim?
The amount of work injury compensation you could win depends on your injury or illness, its severity and the effect it’s had on your life. When you make a claim with us, your solicitor will consider the full impact of what you have suffered. It’s important to us that you’re properly compensated.
It’s not just about your pain and physical suffering. There are several other compensation areas your solicitor will include:
- Any time off work and lost earnings.
- Any future loss of income.
- Any changes to your ability to work.
- Psychological trauma.
- Care or support you have needed, even if given free by family and friends.
- Any changes you might need to your home or car.
- Paid medical treatments, travel costs for treatment and accommodation costs.
You won’t have an estimate of the potential settlement amount until your solicitor has started negotiating with your employer’s insurers. However, we have 25 years’ worth of experience handling accident at work claims. To get an idea of how much your claim could be worth, try our compensation calculator.
You can get free and impartial advice now on 0800 376 0150.
What are the typical causes of injury or illness at work?
There’s a school of thought that believes that every accident in the workplace is preventable. In a perfect world perhaps, but in reality, some are unavoidable. For instance, construction, energy and steel production are fundamentally high-risk working environments.
But most accidents at work could still be prevented. Usually by better, more thorough training and HSE-compliant safety measures and maintenance.
For example, specific injuries could happen as a result of:
- Poorly-maintained equipment.
- Support structures assembled incorrectly, such as scaffolding or warehouse racking.
- Forklift trucks being badly maintained or handled dangerously.
- Uncleared liquid spillages that cause trips, slips or falls.
- Poor ventilation or air conditioning (HVAC) and the insecure storage of chemicals.
- Exposure to toxic chemicals or biological materials.
What are the time limits for claiming?
Work accidents can cause serious injuries. This is because most working environments have a high accident potential when not maintained – or if staff haven’t been trained properly.
You typically have three years from the date of the accident or diagnosis of the medical condition to make a claim.
There are certain things a solicitor has to do to get a compensation claim moving. If you’re approaching three years since the injury or illness diagnosis, then call us on 0800 376 0150 as soon as you can.
There are a few exceptions to the three-year limit:
- Psychological trauma: if the claimant suffered a serious brain injury and can’t make the claim personally. In these circumstances there is no time limit for making a compensation claim.
- Manufacturing or design fault: if the equipment you were using had a fundamental defect, the time limit may change. Talk to us; we can tell you if we can help.
- Overseas work accidents: the time limit may be shorter depending on the circumstances.
How long does it take to make a claim for injury at work?
Finding out if you have a potential claim is simple. Our trained advisors will typically be able to tell whether or not you have a claim in the space of one telephone call. How long a claim takes to process depends on the nature and severity of your injuries.
- A clear-cut claim where injuries are minor, and your employer admits liability, can be settled in six to nine months.
- Complex cases possibly involving serious injury and a Health and Safety Executive investigation naturally take longer. One to two years – or possibly more – are the norm.
However, no two cases are the same. The solicitor we appoint for you will be able to give you a more accurate estimate when they’ve reviewed all the details.
Do I have grounds for a work-based compensation claim?
Most workplaces have a high potential for causing serious and long-lasting injuries when they’re not maintained safely. This is particularly true if people are poorly trained or lack the right personal protective equipment (PPE) for the job.
For instance, an estimated 300,000 people in the UK suffer from back pain due to work-related manual handling accidents, according to Unison.
You may not think you’ve suffered a serious injury. However, you’d be surprised how many people call us who have been hurt badly without realising.
If you’re unsure about your injury, ask yourself the questions below. If you answer yes to any, then get in touch. You may have suffered a workplace injury worth investigating:
- Am I still receiving medical treatment for an old injury or illness picked up at work?
- Have I been making repeat hospital visits to treat the same condition?
- Have I taken time off work to recover from an injury or other condition?
- Have my injuries or condition stopped me returning to work in the same role or doing the same hours?
Compensation can help pay for your recovery and any changes you have to make to your life – either historically, now or in the future. In some cases, your solicitor may be able to arrange an interim payment. This is a portion of your compensation that takes care of your immediate needs before the final settlement comes through.
If you are in any doubt, then it is always worth speaking to one of our trained advisors. We’re open seven days a week.
Did you know?
507,000 people were suffering from a work-related musculoskeletal disorder in 2016/17 –
with 159,000 new cases recorded in that 12-month period.
(Source: Health and Safety Executive)
What types of accident at work injury can I claim for?
We have 25 years’ experience helping people make things right after an accident at work. During that time, we’ve learnt that there’s no such thing as a standard workplace accident.
Below we’ve linked to some useful information on certain types of work accident, which may help you:
- Construction site accidents.
- Accidents in a factory or warehouse.
- Injuries while serving in the military.
- Unsafe industrial sites.
- Accidents while working in an office.
- Agricultural and farming accidents.
All employers have a ‘duty of care’ towards their employees – they’re required by law to protect you.
Your employer must take steps to make sure your working environment is safe for you and your colleagues to work in.
If an employer doesn’t follow the general health and safety regulations, such as The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, then they’ve put you at risk and they can be held responsible for your accident.
Can I claim for occupational illness or disease?
Yes, you can. Thousands of people every year are affected by work-related illnesses – or contract diseases during employment. Sometimes the working environment can aggravate the symptoms of a pre-existing condition.
The law requires employers to provide satisfactory protection and safe work processes for their people. Good health and safety practices must be in place to minimise the risk of occupational illness.
These are some of the common medical conditions contracted in UK workplaces.
- Noise-induced hearing loss: partial or full deafness caused by sudden or persistent exposure to loud or highly penetrative sounds.
- Vibration injuries: limbs and joints damaged by heavy use of vibrating power tools or equipment.
- Respiratory and lung diseases: exposure to harmful substances like fumes, dust, silica or asbestos.
- Industrial dermatitis: inflammation, irritation and hypersensitivity of the skin from over-exposure to dust, chemicals and adhesives – even water.
- Occupational cancer: usually lung cancer – mesothelioma – caused by exposure to asbestos.
- Musculoskeletal disorders: muscle, tendon and nerve conditions caused by things like repetition, constrained body position or cumulative trauma.
If you believe you’ve fallen ill because of a duty of care failure, you may be able to make an industrial disease claim. The three-year time limit for making a claim begins when you first notice the symptoms or the condition is diagnosed.
What happens after a workplace accident?
There are several things you should do after an accident in the workplace. First and most importantly is to make sure you seek immediate medical attention.
- Ensure you – or a colleague – reports the accident to your manager.
- Make sure that your employer records the accident in the company accident book.
- Tell your trade union rep if you’re a member – they’re there to help you.
- Get witness statements from colleagues if you can. Ask a good workmate or your union rep to do so if you’re incapacitated or off work.
- Your employer must report certain accidents and injuries to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) under RIDDOR. These are the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations.
If you’ve been seriously injured and are hospitalised, a colleague or manager will usually arrange these things for you.
- Should you need time off work to recover, you should be entitled to statutory sick pay.
- Serious injury with long-term or permanent effects means you may be eligible for industrial injuries disablement benefit.
- Make sure you talk to your employer about your employment rights after injury.
What happens during a workplace accident claim?
If you think you may have grounds for an accident at work claim, first seek expert advice. Talk to us for free and in confidence. Tell us your story, your way and at your pace. We’ll let you know if we think you may be eligible to make a claim.
If we think you are and you decide you’d like to go ahead, we’ll pair you with one of our expert workplace accident solicitors. We can usually do this on the same call to get things moving for you.
We also understand that you may have natural reservations about making a claim against your employer. That’s why we’ll never pressure you or leave you feeling rushed into a decision.
Should you proceed with the claim, there are several things you can do to support your claim.
- Gather photographic evidence: it may not always be possible but clear pictures of the accident area are really helpful.
- Gather any witness statements: these will also help your solicitor build your claim.
- Record your injury details and symptoms: a regular injury diary will support the medical evidence and show the pace of your recovery.
- Record any financial losses: this comprises all the financial expenditure you’ve made personally as a direct result of your injury.
- Ask a colleague to help: a trusted co-worker – or your trades union rep – can help you sort things out.
Once your solicitor has all the evidence to hand, they’ll submit the claims notification form to your employer’s insurance company. Your solicitor will also arrange a medical assessment where an independent specialist will examine your injuries. The report they submit will form a key part of your evidence.
If your employer accepts liability for your workplace injury, your solicitor will negotiate a settlement figure with their insurers.
- If a figure cannot be agreed or your employer denies liability, your solicitor will begin court proceedings.
- The negotiations will continue and often, an agreement will still be reached.
- Accident at work claims rarely get to the stage where a court hearing before a judge is needed.
Sometimes workplace accidents are serious enough to warrant automatic investigation by the HSE. Investigations can take time, but you don’t need to wait for the outcome before starting a compensation claim.
What do I need to prove in an accident at work claim?
First, you need to prove that the accident that caused your injury (or medical condition) was not your fault. Second, the evidence must demonstrate that the accident was caused by the negligent action – or inaction – of your employer.
Your solicitor will base your accident at work claim on the following evidence:
- The accident at work was officially recorded in the company accident book.
- A record of medical treatment received afterwards.
- An independent medical assessment of your injuries.
- Photographs of the location and injury hazard.
- Witness statements.
- A record of any/all financial losses.
What is contributory negligence?
Even if you were partially responsible for your accident at work, you can still make a claim under contributory negligence. This is also called split liability. It’s where both sides in the claim agree on a share of the blame. For example, this could be any ratio such as 50:50, 40:60 or 25:75.
Example: in a claim worth £10,000, the claimant is judged 25% responsible and the employer 75% responsible (25:75). The gross compensation payment for the claimant, before deduction of the relevant legal success fee and costs, would be £7,500.
How do I pay for a work accident or illness claim?
A no win no fee arrangement is the contract between you and the personal injury solicitor we select for you. If your lawyer wins the claim, you pay them.
- Usually this is 25% of the compensation secured.
- This figure can vary slightly either way depending on the claim circumstances.
- It will only be deducted when your compensation is paid.
- There are no upfront costs and no hidden charges.
Your lawyer may need to arrange insurance for you to ensure claiming is risk-free. If your lawyer loses the claim, you pay nothing to anyone. It’s as simple as that.
There are variations on no win no fee claim funding. For instance, you may have an existing legal protection insurance policy. These sometimes come with home or motor insurance – or as a credit card benefit. If you do, your solicitor will check to see if it offers appropriate cover for a no win no fee accident at work claim (not all do).
Similarly, if you’re a member of a trade union, membership benefits may include legal protection insurance. Again, your solicitor will check this out for you before starting work on your claim.
You’ll find detailed information about funding your claim on our no win no fee page.
Work-related injury or illness, the law … and you
All employers have a clear legal responsibility to make sure you and your colleagues are safe in the workplace. This includes providing a well-maintained working environment, sound training and satisfactory safety gear for the job.
Any employers who don’t observe general health and safety regulations, like the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, are putting you directly at risk.
Their responsibilities also include observing the regulations that may be specific to what you do. These include The Work at Height Regulations 2005 act or the ‘Six-Pack’ Regulations 1992 for factory-based jobs.
It’s called a duty of care. If your employer has failed in theirs and you’ve been injured – or become ill as a result – you’re entitled to seek full compensation.
By law, this cannot compromise the employer-employee relationship. The law recognises this concern too.
- If your employer attempts to sack you for making – or thinking about making – a compensation claim, you may have a case for unfair dismissal.
- Equally, if they make your life at work so unbearable you end up quitting, you may have a case for constructive dismissal.
In reality, we understand that you may worry about making a claim against your employer. It’s a valid concern and we’re here to help.
We’re a trusted national helpline with 25 years’ experience helping people win the compensation they deserve. We’ll give you the free, impartial and confidential advice you need to explore a personal injury at work claim. In your own time and at your own pace. No rush. No pressure. No problem.
If you do decide to pursue your claim, we’ll guide you through those initial first steps. We’ll then introduce you to one of our approved personal injury solicitors. Call us now on 0800 376 0150 to find out more.
Accident at work FAQs
Can I claim for an accident at work that was my fault?
In short, no. To make a no win no fee personal injury claim, there has to be another person or organisation at fault. If the accident happened because it was solely your fault, then you won’t have a case.
However, you can still make a claim if blame for the accident is shared. Liability is split if it’s clear that’s the case and both sides can agree to it. For example, in a personal injury claim worth £20,000, a split liability of 50/50 means the compensation awarded would be £10,000, before deductions.
Can I be dismissed after an accident at work?
If you’re injured in a work accident that was solely your fault, what happens next is down to your employer. But if you suffered an accident that was the fault – or partially the fault – of your employer, then the law is clear. You cannot be sacked, singled out or penalised for making a personal injury claim against them.
They have a legal duty of care to provide you with a safe working environment and proper training and protection. If they breach that duty and you’re hurt as a result, you can make a claim against them. The law is crystal clear, but we appreciate that employee-employer claims often need careful handling.
Who pays compensation for an accident at work?
It’s simple. Employer’s liability insurance covers the damages in a successful accident at work claim. This means the solicitor negotiates on your behalf with the employer’s insurance company, not personally with the employer.
Be wary about accepting an early offer from the other side’s insurance company. Early offers are usually lower than what the claim might be worth so make sure you take good advice. Come and talk to us first.
Can I claim for an accident at work if working on a zero-hour contract?
If the accident at work was your employer’s entire fault – or partially yours too – then yes you can. The employment law protections are the same. If the accident was solely your fault, then you won’t be able to make a claim.
Can I claim for an accident at work if I’m a self-employed contractor?
Yes, you can. Self-employed contractors hired by a third-party business have the same health and safety protections as employees. Many sectors employ contractors. It’s a common practice in areas like construction, financial services, retail, healthcare and information technology.
What are the most common workplace accidents and injuries?
The Health and Safety Executive conducts regular and detailed research into injury and illness in UK workplaces. Let’s have a look at the seven most common causes.
- Slips, trips or fall on the same level: the most common cause of injury with bruising, strains, sprains, fractures and breaks.
- Lifting and handling: soft tissue, spinal strains and bone breaks.
- Being struck by a falling object: often a problem in warehouse-style environments where stock or materials are stored at height.
- Falling from a height: ladder, roof, scaffolding and exterior work.
- Workplace violence: threats, assaults, cuts, scratches and bruising.
- Contact with moving machinery: typically causing lacerations and cuts.
- Collision: walking into a stationary object when not paying attention.
According to HSE figures for 2013-2018, 26% of all fatal injuries were falls from a height.
Other risks to health at work include:
- Toxic fumes: inhalation that causes illness or respiratory damage.
- Industrial deafness: exposure to loud, persistent noise with poor protection.
- Repetitive strain injury (RSI): from keyboards to pneumatic equipment.
When does the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigate workplace accidents or occupational illnesses?
The HSE aims to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries and ill-health. It does this by providing advice, licensing business activity in hazardous environments, inspections, incident investigation and enforcing legislation.
Employers are bound by law to report all workplace injuries and illnesses to the HSE under the RIDDOR regulations we mentioned earlier. Firms can face heavy fines for not doing so. The HSE doesn’t investigate all reports, just the ones it defines as serious.
- Fatalities: including accidents and all other deaths resulting from a preventable work-related cause.
- Serious injury: including multiple fractures, blinding, crush injuries, head trauma, burns and amputation.
- Occupational diseases: including carpal tunnel syndrome, hand arm vibration, tendonitis, dermatitis, asthma, cancer and toxic agent exposure.
- Any incident that indicates a potentially serious breach of health and safety law.
Remember, if the HSE is investigating your accident, you do not have to wait for it to conclude before making a workplace injury claim.
If you’ve been in an accident that feels wrong, you can get in touch with us for free, impartial advice on how to make it right. Call us on 0800 376 0150.
Dr Hilary Jones is a General Practitioner and medical broadcaster
Dr Hilary Jones
Accidents at work can range from minor to totally life-changing. Getting the care you need is the first step to recovery. Even if your injury seems minor, there could be unseen internal damage that could cause complications. My advice is to see your GP as soon as you can – or go to A&E immediately if needed.
General Practitioner and medical broadcaster
Rebecca Hill is Operations Director at National Accident Law, one of our panel law firms
Hundreds of thousands of people are injured in accidents at work every year in the UK. Many of those accidents are preventable. As specialist no win no fee workplace injury solicitors, we understand the complex impacts they can have. Things like job worries, lost earnings, extra pressure on family and the need to recover. We’re skilled at handling these situations compassionately while you focus on getting well – and back to work.
Operations Director, National Accident Law
We helped Paul make it right when he was hit on the head by a falling steel tool at work. This is his experience…
For weeks afterwards I was struggling to do simple tasks and was getting headaches and pressure behind my eyes. As an engineer, the fact that I was struggling to do maths told me that something wasn’t right. I went to the hospital and they said I had a severe concussion.
When I rang up National Accident Helpline I forgot everything I was planning to say, but the advisor was brilliant and walked me through the story so that he could understand and piece the information together.
I was really struggling and emotional at the time, but he had time for me and I didn’t feel rushed. A lot of people talk to you with an answer already in mind, they aren’t really listening, but this was different – I felt like he really listened to me.
Paul Jenkins, Leicestershire
Our experienced and legally-trained advisors often take that all-important first call from people thinking about making a claim after an accident at work.
Accidents at work are more complicated than most personal injury claims. Aside from the immediate effects of injury, people can naturally be wary about making a claim against their employer. We’re in the front line of putting people’s minds at rest – reassuring them that the law is on their side with helpful, free and independent advice that explains the claims process. It’s an important decision and we always give people the space and time to decide what course of action is right for them.
Legal Support Advisor