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Claiming for Injuries Sustained in the Workplace

More accidents happen at work than anywhere else. In fact almost half of accidents that occur happen in the workplace. 

However it can be difficult for employees to bring a claim for compensation if injuries have been suffered. Many are scared of the possible "repercussions" if they take the firm that they are working for to court.

Generally these fears are groundless as all employers are obliged by law to have Employer's Liability Insurance, which should cover them if an employee is injured in the workplace and action can be taken against employers who discriminate against employees simply because they are pursuing a legitimate compensation claim for accident injuries against the firm.

Should you be the victim of an accident at work, first make sure it is reported, as this may be a useful reference point if you ultimately make a claim for compensation. Accidents, no matter how minor, should be recorded in the company’s accident book, which is mandatory for companies with 10 employees or more. Industrial injuries of a more serious nature must be reported to the Incident Contact Centre of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

If you have to miss work because of your injuries then you should make sure you get statutory sick pay which can be paid for up to 28 weeks to those unable to work due to illness or injury.

Your employment has a responsibility to safeguard your health and to make you aware of any health hazards that you may face in your work. If they have failed to do so then they risk both criminal and civil prosecution, and you have grounds for making a claim for compensation.

Your work injury compensation case will probably hinge on whether you can prove the negligence of your employer. They must provide:

  • Safe premises in which to work
  • Safe working procedure
  • Suitable materials and equipment, with adequate supervision
  • Competent staff

A safe way for you to carry out your work

Your employer must try to ensure that you carry out your work in the safest way possible bearing in mind the type of job that you do, the materials and equipment that you work with and the tasks involved. Whether or not they have done this is quite often just down to the facts of the case, but standards within the industry can often be used as a form of benchmark against which to judge whether the employer has done enough to protect his employee.

If there are inherent or known dangers then the employees need to be advised of these and properly trained in the tasks they are required to do in order to avoid them. If, for example, your job involved a lot of lifting then employees should be advised on the best way to lift the items in order to prevent injury, and regular checks should be made to ensure that these methods are being adopted.

Safe premises in which to work

Your employer needs to ensure that the place, or places, where you work and their premises in general are safe for their staff. The most obvious example of a breach of this duty would be if office floors were left wet or cluttered with files or cables, on which employees could slip or trip up on. But employers are also responsible for the heating and ventilation of their premises, the lighting and even the car park.

Suitable materials and equipment

Your employer is responsible for providing you with safe and suitable equipment with which to do your job, training you in how to use it, inspecting and maintaining it, and ensuring that it is used correctly through training and supervision.

This covers all the equipment that you may use from your chair or computer to a pneumatic drill or the dustbin man's dustcart. Whatever the equipment, your employer has responsibility for it and the way you use it.

Competent staff

Your employer must ensure, to the best of his ability, that the people that he employs around you are competent in their jobs, and do not put others at risk by their actions. So if an employee injures another through a failure to use equipment properly, or a drink or drugs problem, or simply when messing around, then the employer is potentially liable for those actions.

The stages of a work accident claim

If you have suffered an injury after an accident at work, you may be entitled to compensation. It is therefore important to know what you can be compensated for and the process of how to make a claim. The four elements of compensation you can receive include financial losses (lost income, medical expenses, travel expenses etc), pain and suffering (physical and psychological injuries), interest (interest on previous types of losses) and legal expenses.

It is also important to know that you have 3 years to make a claim from the date of the accident and you should not hesitate to make a claim if you have suffered as your employer should be insured.

Proving work accidents

Proof of accidents at work is vital, and your employers are required by law to keep a record of any accidents to help you in claiming compensation. Keeping proof will also help to prevent future accidents from occurring.

Recording work accidents

There are numerous records that your employer must complete. First of all they should record the accident in the in the accident book. All accidents must be recorded, however minor they may be. When you sign the book it is advised you read through the description to make sure it is accurate.

After you have been medically assisted by the first aid team, a representative must report all of the injuries you may have sustained.

When all of your injuries have been recorded and you have been provided with any treatment you needed from a hospital or GP the records will be copied to your employer which are known as your ‘occupational records’

Work accident questionnaire

The accident questionnaire should be completed as soon after the injury as possible and is provided by your employer. This will provide a full personal description of the work accident and how it happened along with all the injuries you suffered at the time.

After you have filled out the questionnaire detailing your point of view, your supervisor should then give their own description of the accident. This record should compile of a report including what happened to you along with points of view from any witnesses, who should also sign.

If you are a member of a union your union representative should also give a report of the accident.

Health and safety report

The next record to produce is for the Health and Safety Executive. The executive monitors the health and safety of the employers and is part of the government. Your employer is required by law to report to them. This can cause the employee to take three days off work or more. This report is known as a RIDDOR report (when RIDDOR stands for reporting injuries, diseases, dangerous occurrences regulations).

After the health and safety report is made a meeting is usually held by your employers to discuss the circumstances of the accident.

An investigative report should then be made looking into how the accident happened along with any risk assessments.

The final type of report you should make is to keep all records of when you had to phone in explaining your absence and any sick notes.

A guide to the claim process

A work accident claim is a claim for compensation for any injuries you may have suffered as a result of an accident at work. This is the claiming back of money to compensate the results of your physical and psychological injuries due to an accident at work. It also accounts for any loss in finance you have received as a result of the expenses due the injury. There are numerous steps to make a work injury claim as explained below.

Work accident claim letter

Your first claim attempt must be in the form of a letter, firstly giving your name, address and national insurance number. You should then give a description of how the accident happened followed by an explanation of why you think your employer is responsible and describe the law to back this up. A full description of your physical and psychological injuries should then follow. You should then go on to describe your financial expenses and any ongoing finances as a result of your injury, although your employer should have a record of these. If you wish to obtain any documents relating to the accident from your employer you should ask them, as they are obliged to send them to you if you make that request.

Taking your work accident claim to court

If you are not successful with your letter, the next step is to take your claim to court ('issuing proceedings'). To go through with this or issue proceedings you must complete certain documents as well as paying a court fee and providing the courts with a medical report.

With all this information in mind you should now be prepared to make a work injury claim. It is important to know that you have three years from when the accident happened to start your claim.

Forms of work accident compensation

There are a number of types of loss that you can claim back as compensation after suffering an accident at work.

  1. Firstly you can be compensated for a loss of income. If your injuries from work have meant that you have not been able to work for a certain amount of time, you are entitled to claim back the money you could have made. You can claim it as a net amount when income after tax and national insurance is deducted. It is advised that you read over your contract because it may contain a clause whereby your employer should keep paying you a specified amount of income while you are absent.
  2. Another type of loss you can be compensated for is travel expenses. Money you have spent for treatment, going to and from hospitals and your GP for example, can be claimed back. If you travelled by car you can also claim a mileage rate which will approximately be 40p per mile.
  3. Medical expenses are another type of loss you can claim back. These are the expenses you have paid to get your injuries treated as well as private medical expenses and prescription expenses. However you can only claim private medical expenses if you had a good reason to choose private care over the NHS.
  4. In the extreme case that you need professional nursing assistance as a result of your injury you can claim back the money you paid to get the assistance. If your family member cared for you in your recovery period you can also claim back compensation for them based on an hourly rate.
  5. If you lose out on the chance to go on holiday or could not enjoy a holiday as a result of your injuries, you can claim back the cost of it or claim for the loss of your enjoyment.
  6. You are also entitled to claim back interest on your general and special damages. If the pain and suffering of your injury was worth over £1000 you can also claim back the legal costs.