Injured Could Be Missing Out On Care
A leading health and safety expert has expressed concern that people severely injured in accidents at work are missing out on rehabilitation and care they need because of the rising number of businesses with inadequate or no insurance.
Work-place injury specialists at law firm Irwin Mitchell say that since the recession, there has been noticeable increase in the number of calls from people who are unable to recover the cost of their care and rehabilitation from their employer due to as lack of insurance cover.
And the team say that now, more than ever, employers need to consider the devastating and far reaching consequences inadequate insurance can have on them, their business, and their employers.
David Urpeth, Partner and Head of the Workplace Injury Team at Irwin Mitchell said: “People deserve to assume that they will go to work, and return safely home to their family. But when something does go wrong and they are injured through no fault of their own they also deserve to know that they will have access to the care and rehabilitation they need to put their lives back on track.
“Sadly, we are seeing an increasing number of people who approach us with life devastating injuries, but as there is no adequate insurance, their care will ultimately be paid for by the tax payer via the NHS and in some cases this just isn’t enough.”
Urpeth, urged employers to consider the policies they have in place to ensure that staff are protected.
He said: “Everyone is affected by this. The victims who unwittingly worked for an uninsured employer; the other members of staff who may potentially lose their jobs if the company goes under; The tax payer who funds the rehabilitation and care needed by the victims; The families of the victims who, in some cases, not only lose an income but a loved one and the HSE which is put under additional pressure to carry out more inspections and more convictions.”
Irwin Mitchell claims the problems arise from a relaxation of the laws, the current climate and from businesses being unaware of what insurance they need:
• There is no longer a legal requirement to display an Employers Liability Insurance Certificate so most staff don’t know the insurance policies in place.
• The current economic climate means that many companies would go bust if the court forced them to pay for claims themselves, leaving no company to recover any rehabilitation costs from. This leaves the claimant with no means of accessing the funds they need to help them put their life back together.
• Some companies are not familiar with the correct insurance needed for their type of business. For example a common problem arises where self-employed contractors are concerned and businesses think they are covered by the workers own insurance.
The law firm also believes that the legal requirement for Employer Liability Insurance Certificates to be displayed should be re-introduced.
Urpeth would also like to see the HSE carrying out more inspections.
He said: “The people in the wrong should be held accountable for any injuries sustained; however, despite insurance being a legal requirement, convictions are rare. The overstretched HSE are restricted by the number of inspections they can carry out which naturally has an effect on the number of prosecutions.
“Everyone deserves to be able go to work, earn a living and come home safe but in instances where negligence takes place people at least deserve to know that they will be able to access the funds they need to support and help them and their families put their lives back together.”
Irwin Mitchell is also calling for all workplace injury and illness cases to be covered by the Employers Liability Insurance Bureau, should it be introduced by the government. At present the Bureau is very much focused on long tail diseases such as Asbestos related illness.
In the motor industry the Motor Insurer’s Bureau already exists to help pay for care costs if a driver is not insured. However if someone is injured at work there is no such backup plan.