In this guide:
Can You Claim For An Accident At Work?
If you’ve been injured in an accident at work, you may be able to claim compensation. You normally have three years to claim following the accident.
As well as full-time or part-time employees, it may be possible to claim if you are:
- On a temporary contract
- In your probationary period
- Working for an agency
- Working as a contractor or sub-contractor (this is a common situation in construction, where there may be many sub-contractors on site. It depends on the overall management of the site as to who is responsible for which activities)
You may even be able to claim if you were partly responsible for your accident (e.g. if you caused the accident but had not been given the correct personal protective equipment, or adequate training).
Employer Duty Of Care
Your employer has a duty to make sure that you are safe at work. In practice this means they have a responsibility to:
- Ensure you are properly trained
- Provide suitable work and personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Undertake risk assessments
- Manage business activities to minimise risks to your health and safety
- Provide safe working systems
Employers have additional responsibilities for the welfare of certain types of worker, including young people, disabled people and pregnant women.
Many business activities and industry sectors are subject to specific regulations and Approved Codes of Practice, drafted by the Health and Safety Executive. Your employer must comply with these and any failure to do so would be potentially negligent.
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What Are The Time Limits For Making A Claim?
The standard time limit for claiming compensation following an injury at work is three years.
However, there are exceptions to the standard time limit:
- Children – you can claim at any point up until the child’s 21st birthday for a workplace injury that occurred before they turned 18
- Those who lack mental capacity – there is no time limit where a person lacks mental capacity (which is often the case following serious brain injuries)
- Accidents while working abroad – time limits in foreign countries can be shorter
- Defective products – in addition to the standard three year limit, claims involving defective work equipment must be made within 10 years of the product going into circulation
No matter how your injury occurred, we recommend you get in touch with us as soon as possible, so we can start to investigate your claim.
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What’s The Claims Process?
Workplace accident claims tend to follow the same five steps:
- Free Initial Consultation
We’ll discuss the details of your case and the best way to take your claim forward. This initial consultation is free and confidential.
- Investigating Your Claim & Determining Responsibility
We’ll then work out who was at fault for your injury. If this isn’t obvious we have an experienced team of investigators to assist. Once we know who is responsible, we’ll contact them to see if they accept responsibility. Your employer may also carry out an internal investigation into your accident, it’s important you co-operate fully with this as well.
- Understanding Your Needs
We’ll look at the exact nature and impact of your injury, using medical experts as necessary. From this we’ll calculate the amount of compensation we think you’ll need.
With serious injury claims, we’ll look to secure “interim” compensation payments – this is compensation that’s paid in advance of your final settlement to cover any immediate needs you have. We also have a specialist team to help you access the very best rehabilitation and support.
- Final Compensation Settlement
Most claims we deal with get settled out of court. However, sometimes the responsible party doesn’t accept the blame or doesn’t agree with the amount of compensation we feel you need. In these circumstances we’ll start court proceedings. If your claim needs to be decided at court, we’ll be there to help you every step of the way, talking you through what will happen so you feel as comfortable as possible.
Our Investigation Into Your Claim
To assist our investigation it will be helpful for you to:
- Write down everything you can remember about your accident
- Document relevant issues such as training and machine faults
- Keep any documents related to your accident
- Provide names and contact details of possible witnesses
We’ll then begin our own investigation of what happened, separately to that of your employer (or the Health & Safety Executive). This may include:
- Obtaining documents from your employer and the Health and Safety Executive
- Taking witness statements
- Visiting your workplace
- Inspecting relevant machinery
- Accessing CCTV or other recordings
- Asking an engineering expert to comment on the issues relevant to your case
Once your claim has started, your lawyer will manage any communication with your employer about your case.
There are strict laws in place to protect your employment rights while making a personal injury claim against your employer, and after it has concluded. Your employer must comply fully with our investigation and not treat you differently because you are making a claim.
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How Much Compensation Can You Expect?
There’s no such thing as an average workplace injury claim. The consequences of the same type of injury aren’t the same for any two people so the compensation awarded will be different and tailored to your specific needs.
There are two parts to a personal injury compensation settlement:
- General Damages – to compensate you for your injury and for your pain and suffering
- Special Damages – to compensate you for any expenses you’ve incurred, loss of earnings, and your future care needs
Therefore it’s clearly difficult to generalise how much compensation you could claim, without knowing your personal circumstances. This is the value of an experienced personal injury solicitor, who can value your claim accurately in order to get you the compensation you deserve.
A number of factors can influence how much compensation you’re awarded, including:
- The severity of your injury
- Expenses that you’ve incurred
- Loss of earnings
- Future care needs
- Rehabilitation, therapy and support
- Household adaptations
- Whether you contributed to your injuries in some way (for example, whether you were partly responsible for your accident)
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How Long Does A Workplace Accident Claim Take?
Accident at work claims can generally take anything from a few months to two years to settle. Some serious injury cases can take longer than this, dependent on how complicated your injuries are.
Cases involving one or more of the factors below often take two years to resolve:
- Whether your employer has admitted responsibility for the accident.
If not your claim may take longer, as we’ll need to spend time proving your case
- Whether the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is prosecuting your employer.
If so, you may have to wait for that to conclude before your case can be resolved
- How severe your injuries are.
If you’ve suffered serious injuries, it’s usually advisable to wait until we understand the full extent of your injuries before settling the case. This is to ensure you receive the right amount of compensation
Where your employer has admitted responsibility early on in your case, it may be possible to get “interim” compensation payments – this is compensation that’s paid in advance of your final settlement to cover any immediate needs you have.
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How can I pay for my workplace accident claim?
There are two ways of funding your workplace accident claim:
- No Win No Fee agreements
- Legal Expenses Insurance – you may have this as part of a home insurance policy or if you are a member of a trade union
The vast majority of the claims we handle are funded by a No Win No Fee agreement. This means that you’ll pay no upfront costs, and nothing if your case is unsuccessful*.
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What Are My Rights Following An Injury At Work?
Following an injury at work, your employment rights are protected by a number of laws. These cover being:
- Dismissed from your role
- Bullied or harassed
- Discriminated against
- Overlooked for a promotion
If you think you’ve been treated unfairly because of your claim, you should put your concerns in writing to your employer and ask them for an explanation.
If your employer doesn’t address these concerns, contact our employment lawyers for expert advice on your situation. We can give you practical advice on what to do and, if necessary, represent you in an employment tribunal.
Can I Be Dismissed If My Injuries Prevent Me From Doing My Job?
Although there aren’t any hard and fast rules on how long you have to be off sick before your employer can consider dismissal on capability grounds, there are laws to protect you from being treated unfairly as a result of your injury. If you’ve been absent for a long period of time due to your injury, your employer can only dismiss you as a last resort, once all other options have been considered.
It may be the case that your injury is classed as a disability – in this instance you could also be protected by discrimination legislation. A disability is defined as a physical or mental condition which has a long-term and substantial effect on your ability to carry out day to day activities. Long-term means that it is expected to last for at least 12 months and day-to-day activities include walking, getting dressed, etc.
If your injury does amount to a disability, your employer will need to take some additional steps to avoid discriminating against you. This is likely to include getting medical advice as to when and if you can return to work and considering whether any reasonable adjustments could be made to help you get back to work, such as:
- Undertaking lighter duties
- Offering flexible working
- Making adaptations to the workplace
- Providing specialised equipment
- Considering whether they could offer you a different role within the company
We can advise you on your rights if you’re worried that your employer isn’t acting legally. Our dedicated team of employment lawyers specialise in helping people with employment disputes. Contact our team for a free initial consultation about your case.
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Can You Help If My Accident Was In Scotland?
Yes, our Scottish personal injury lawyers can help if you’ve been involved in an accident at work in Scotland.
We’ve helped many people to claim compensation after accidents in a range of industries, so we have the experience needed to get the best outcome for you. Read more about making a personal injury claim in Scotland
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Pay And State Benefits Following An Accident At Work
Will You Get Paid After An Accident At Work?
Depending on the terms of your contract of employment, you may receive paid time off after an accident at work. Even if you don’t receive any paid time off, we’ll work hard to make sure that your compensation takes into account your lost earnings.
You may also be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay, although this is only paid by your employer for 28 weeks and often won’t match your original wage. As such, it’s vital to begin your claim as soon as you can. We might be able to secure you interim compensation payments, which can help pay for medical treatment and specialist equipment before your case has finished.
What Benefits Can I Claim If I've Had An Accident At Work?
You might be eligible for certain benefits, depending on your situation and the severity of your injury. Some of the benefits you could claim for include:
- Attendance Allowance
- Carer’s Allowance
- Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
- Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Guardian’s Allowance
- Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefits
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
- Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
We’ll review your benefit entitlements with you, making sure that you understand which benefits you should receive. For more information, please visit our page on welfare issues after serious injury.
There are also a range of benefits available if a loved one has died in a workplace accident, such as the Statutory Bereavement Award and the Bereavement Allowance. Visit our page on coping with bereavement for more information on eligibility and how we can help.
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*To make a No Win No Fee claim, you need to enter into an agreement that's linked to a suitable insurance policy. We'll explain this in more detail before we start your claim.