Guide to Accident at Work Claims
What exactly can one classify as an accident at work or a work accident? Is it slipping on a wet floor or banging your head on an obstacle you did not see?
An accident is only considered a work accident if it occurs in the course of doing your work, leading to a physical or mental injury. It can take many forms and can include accidents that happen off the workplace premises and accidents that have been caused by third parties. It can lead to severe distress and difficulty performing regular day-to-day tasks, that can last long after you’ve returned to your job.
Besides the injuries you get during such accidents, worries involving proving negligence or liability on your employer’s behalf can become frustrating if you don’t have the right information beforehand or don’t follow the correct procedures to report it. You must have all your questions answered before you decide if you’ll launch a claim.
- 1 Types of Accidents at Work
- 2 What Are Accident at Work Claims?
- 3 What Can Be Claimed for in a Work Accident?
- 4 Can I Claim Compensation for an Accident at Work?
- 5 What Are Accident at Work Laws?
- 6 How Long after an Accident Can I Claim Compensation?
- 7 What Do I Do If I Have an Accident at Work?
Types of Accidents at Work
- Overexertion: Sprains and strains caused by overexertion. Some include lifting or pulling heavy boxes or equipment.
- Slips, trips and falls: These are quite common and could lead to muscle strains and other serious injuries.
- Falling Objects: Pieces of machinery and heavy boxes falling are a significant risk of head injuries.
- Falling: This poses a significant risk to workers. It could be falling down a flight of stairs or falling off high places like roofs.
- Repetitive motion: These accidents are not as common as the rest, but they impact many workers. Auto mechanics develop chronic back pain, and people who frequently use computers might struggle with a condition called carpal tunnel syndrome.
What Are Accident at Work Claims?
An accident at work claim describes an incident where the injured person is entitled to claim compensation because of an accident that occurred in the workplace because of the employer’s negligence.
Accidents at work can include any actions or non-actions by the employer that have affected your overall safety.
Some evidence is first needed to prove that an employer is liable for the accident. You will be required to provide witness statements, CCTV footage of the incident if available, photos of your injuries, and medical reports of any physical injuries sustained.
Remember, evidence can never be too much. Ensure to provide more evidence for a stronger claim, so that the case can move forward quickly. Two main factors determine the time it might take to settle your work claim. These are:
- Establishing liability for the work accident that injured you.
- Medical reports detailing how extensive your injuries are.
What Can Be Claimed for in a Work Accident?
Physical pain is not the only thing people that have accidents at work experience. They also experience mental suffering and distress, and the accidents also cause substantial financial problems on the individuals.
There are different types of claims for workplace injuries. These are:
- General Damages – This includes physical pain, mental distress, and decreased quality of life.
- Medical expenses – This should consist of any out-of-pocket expenses used for your workplace injury and any treatment-related costs such as counselling, physical therapy and physiotherapy.
- Sick days – Unpaid sick days in the past and future should be included in this category. Any decrease in earnings caused because you were on sick leave.
- Care claims – You might need a caretaker during the period you are making your recovery. The caretaker is anyone responsible for you because you are unable to perform any day-to-day tasks. This claim will be paid to the said caretaker.
- Travel expenses – Any travel costs associated with treatment for your injury. Expenses such as petrol costs, flights or trains fall in this category.
Remember to keep all the valid paperwork or receipts as evidence for the claims. You can take photos of the receipts for your solicitor to use.
Can I Claim Compensation for an Accident at Work?
If the work accident you had happened during the last three years, and if the fault is not yours, you can claim compensation. These kinds of injuries are caused mostly by employers failing to take necessary health and safety precautions. If you feel that your manager or employer was negligent and did not meet their responsibilities, you can file a work accident claim and claim compensation.
In some occasions, you might have contributed to the accident, but you may still claim compensation if your employer was the main instigator of your injury at work.
If the accident at work claim is successful, the employer’s liability insurance pays for the compensation. Some common reasons to claim compensation include:
- Poor personal protective equipment
- Improper or insufficient training
- Dangerous working practices or procedures
- Negligence of co-workers
- Poorly maintained or defective equipment
- Poor safety procedures
- Slips, trips and falls
- Preventable spillages
- Assault at the workplace
What Are Accident at Work Laws?
By law, your employer has to ensure that your health and safety is protected while you work. Therefore, if you suffer an accident causing injury or illness, your employer should be held responsible.
If a co-worker is also to blame for the accident, this still applies. You have a right to claim if steps to prevent the accident were not taken.
It is against the law for employers to dismiss you for making an accident at work claim. It is your right to be fairly treated if you decide to make an accident at work claim against your employer. If you find that the treatment you are receiving at your workplace is detrimental because you are making a compensation claim, seek legal advice.
The damages caused by accidents at work can be long-lasting, and your life may change forever because of the injuries. If the accident was preventable, and you should never have had to suffer these injuries, you have the right to be appropriately compensated for your physical, psychological and financial pain.
It is your legal right to make a financial claim against your employer.
You have a right to a reasonable amount of time off work, and you have the right to sick pay because of any injuries or illnesses that have resulted from an accident at work.
How Long after an Accident Can I Claim Compensation?
There is a three-year time limit in the UK within which you can make a work accident claim. If the accident occurred over three years ago, you might not be entitled to compensation because the case will be considered time barred.
You can check the time limit by looking at the date that the accident at work occurred, or when you realised or confirmed that your injury or illness was related to your work or workplace. Some injuries, like asbestos-related diseases, take time to diagnose.
In fatal cases, the three-year time limit starts at the date of death. Some causes of death are determined post-mortem. For example, mesothelioma, which is an asbestos-related disease, can go undiagnosed until the victim has died. If a person dies before the settlement of their work accident case, the three-year timeline begins from the date they died to allow their family to pick up where they left.
There are different circumstances for each workplace injury compensation case, and they all proceed differently. Some cases are settled within a matter of a few months while some can take years.
What Do I Do If I Have an Accident at Work?
1. Get First Aid
Your health comes first. Focus on your injury first before taking any other steps. If you can, you should immediately seek treatment from the first aider at your workplace or ask a colleague to summon the first-aider for you. Stay still if you are unaware of the extent of your injuries. After this, go to a hospital for a full assessment of your injuries. If not treated early, some injuries can cause lifetime complications. You can ask a colleague to accompany you.
2. Report the Accident to Your Employer
Your employer should know about the accident as soon as possible. It is advisable to fully and extensively explain the circumstances of the accident at this point. Ensure that you follow the correct steps according to your organisation to report the accident, so as not to be in breach of the staff procedures. Even if the employer blames you for the accident or you blame yourself, it does not mean that your employer is not at fault for the accident.
3. Take Photo and Video Evidence
Taking photos or videos at the location of the accident is very important if you feel like you will need to defend yourself from any accusations from the employer or if you need to make a compensation claim because you have suffered injuries because of the accident at work.
4. Record Witness Statements
If there were any witnesses to the accident, record a clear statement from them. The statement should entail a clear narration of what they saw or how the accident happened. You might need their help when the legal proceedings start, so make sure you take their contacts and addresses.
5. Record Expenses and Losses
If financial losses are incurred because of the work accident, record them all. Keep all your receipts or take pictures of them. Keeping records is important because you will need to be compensated for any out of the pocket expenses.
6. Don’t Admit Liability
You might be a little confused after the accident and might be under a lot of pressure from the employer to admit that the accident was your fault.
If you admit liability, you might later realise that it was caused because of third party negligence. Any chances of seeking legal help and compensation will be hindered. Don’t sign anything admitting that you were at fault. If your employer forces you to sign any documents seek advice from a solicitor.
7. Contact a Solicitor
Your next step will be to take legal action against your employer. You must consult a solicitor with experience in injuries because of workplace accidents to make the right decision on whether to pursue the case. You do not have to tell your employer about it. Your solicitor has to notify them on your behalf.
8. Be Patient and Focus on Your Recovery
Once you have a reliable solicitor working on your case, focus on recovery and regaining your health. These claims take time to process, and you cannot be sure exactly how long it will take for your case to be settled. It can take a few months to review and assess the claim before moving forward.
Accidents at work can be way more complicated compared to other personal injury claims. Not only do they have an immediate effect on your health and finance, but it can get scary for most people when they have to claim against an employer. They are afraid they could lose their jobs or of being treated differently at work after such claims. Remember that it is against the law for them to do this.
Many accidents are preventable, and you shouldn’t have to go through it without a compensation solicitor. Make sure that they have enough experience dealing with these kinds of cases. Ensure that you follow all the right procedures if you decide to take legal action against your employer. Do not be afraid to give your side of the story and speak out even if you are under pressure from your employer.
It is your right to make an accident at work claim and seek compensation.