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Every 7 seconds
an employee is injured in a workplace accident.
occurred at work for the year of 2017-2018.
spent on the cost of work injuries and ill-health for the year 2017-2018.
An Employers’ Liability claim or work accident is an incident that occurs in the course of work which leads to a physical or mental injury. Accidents can happen in the workplace, or in the course of business whilst being engaged in a work activity.
What can I claim for with an accident at work?
Each Employers’ Liability case is assessed individually and is dependent on supportive medical evidence. You can claim for:
General Damages – Made for the pain, suffering, and loss of amenity of life that are evidentially linked to the accident at work directly. The pain and suffering element of the award compensate for all past, present, and future physical and psychiatric symptoms.
Loss of amenity means the inability to complete activities, either temporarily or permanently, after an accident, which could be undertaken before. This is an award designed to compensate you for the actual injuries suffered, and the effect those have had on your quality of life.
Special Damages – Compensates for any financial losses or out-of-pocket expenses as a result of the accident at work. This would include (but not limited to) loss of earnings, medication or prescription charges, travel to appointments or any cost of care for the extra care you have needed from family or care providers.
If you are unable to do tasks like gardening, walking the dog, and have to pay for these services as a consequence of your accident and subsequent injuries, these can also be claimed for.
This can also include any future loss claim and if you are unable to return to the same job as a result of the accident at work, you can claim for a lump sum based on your wages known as Smith v Manchester award. This is where it can be proved that as a result of your injuries, there is a risk you would find it more difficult to obtain similar employment.
However, an injured person has a duty to take reasonable steps to minimise their losses/expenses. This is called mitigation of losses, and a Court will assess whether or not the loss was reasonably incurred, before making an award.
Who can make a claim?
Whether you are an employee, agency worker or contractor you may be able to make a claim for an accident at work.
In many industries, companies tend to hire contractors and self-employed workers to carry out work on projects. It is a misconception that self-employed workers are always responsible for their own workplace health and safety. Whilst it is true that they would usually have to take out their own insurance to cover certain aspects, in some circumstances they can claim if they are injured due to the actions of an employed person.
Depending on the relationship between the company and contractor, a self-employed contractor may be able to establish that the accident and subsequent injury was caused by another person or company. This is largely because the self-employed person will usually have no control over the health and safety and/or risk assessments for the site they are working on.
How do I make an Employers’ Liability claim?
We hope the above information is useful to you. If you would like to bring a claim following an accident at work, call Oakwood Solicitors Ltd to speak to a legally qualified solicitor or paralegal, who can give you free advice on whether you are eligible to make a claim.
You would have to bring a claim within 3 years from the date of your accident, but we would advise that you bring a claim as soon as possible to pursue the matter. We are of the belief that it is better to get peace of mind by checking if you have a claim, rather than letting the time run out and never knowing.
What is the time limit for starting a claim?
Remember, legal proceedings must be commenced within 3 years from the date of your accident. Failure to do this may result in your claim being time-barred and you may not be able to make a claim for compensation.
If a loved one has deceased, the time limit for bringing a claim is 3 years from the date of death.
How long will my case take?
It will depend on various matters, such as:
Each case is different and whether an insurance company agrees to deal with a case depends on a number of factors. It is therefore very difficult to advise on the length of time a case may take as it may be that it is not clear who is responsible for your accident. Your solicitor will advise you if there are issues that arise which mean the duration of your case will be affected.
What are the most dangerous jobs?
The level of danger that an employee is exposed to depends on the kind of job that they do, as well as a whole host of other factors. The following jobs are considered to be the most dangerous where employees can suffer injury from an accident at work:
Construction site claims
A construction site can be a dangerous place. A lapse in concentration or the actions of another employee further adds to the danger and can ultimately cause serious injury. A lot of lifting of equipment and materials can be involved and injuries can occur if this is not done in a controlled manner.
Construction sites are busy places, with many different operatives doing different jobs. Safe organisation and storage of materials, plant, and equipment are essential and, if this does not happen, all kinds of injuries can occur.
Work at height claims
Falling from a height is one of the most common workplace injuries according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Working at height can sometimes be a necessary feature of some work and is one of the most dangerous parts of any job. There are many risks involved in those undertaking it.
Common accidents are falls from ladders and through fragile roofs. In such claims, it can be difficult to establish who is responsible for the accident, whether it is an employer or the company responsible for erecting the scaffolding.
Employers should consider whether working at height is necessary or whether the task could be completed at ground level. If the task requires working at height, protective measures should be put into place. Employers should take reasonable steps to reduce the risks and the consequences of any employee or other person from falling.
The Work at Height Regulations 2005 (WaHR) governs work that is carried out at height and provides legislation to provide and implement the minimum safety and health requirements for the use of equipment for working at heights. The WaHR are subordinate regulations to the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
The Work at Height Regulations 2005 defines working at height as meaning any work that takes place where a person could fall a distance that can cause personal injury.
“Work at height” means:
a) Work in any place, including a place at or below ground level.
b) Obtaining access to or egress from such place while at work, except by a staircase in a permanent workplace, where, if measures required by these regulations were not taken, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury.
The HSE website provides further explanation of working at height. You are working at height if you:
No matter whether you are working on a construction site on scaffolding or in a supermarket stacking shelves, if the job requires you to work off the ground, risk assessments will need to be carried out and ‘Work at Height’ regulations will need to be adhered to.
What should employers do to prevent falls from height?
Legislation states that employers should conduct sufficient risk assessments of the workplace to assure that certain safety measures are in place to protect their employees. The regulations address the many risks that are involved while working at height.
An employer has a duty of care to ensure that their employees are safe whilst at work and protect them from danger as much as is reasonably possible.
On scaffolding platforms, robust scaffolding systems should be implemented, for example, a double guard rail should be in place to prevent you from falling. Depending on the height, safety harnesses should be worn. Restraint lanyards could also be used to prevent the employee from reaching the edge of an area where they’re at risk of falling.
Method statements should also be prepared for every task. This should set out: the risks involved with that particular task, how to perform the task in a safe manner that should prevent injury.
Risk assessments should make sure that:
As previously stated, working at height refers to any work that takes place where a person could fall a distance that can cause personal injury. Anything above ground level is classed as working at a height. For example, falling off scaffolding, as there are no safety rails.
What are employees’ responsibilities when working at height?
Even though employers have a duty to ensure that the employees are safe, the employees also have a general legal duty to take reasonable care of their own health and safety, as well as other employees. You must have a sensible, pragmatic approach when working at height to prevent additional risks.
Employees must undergo sufficient training in this area before carrying out any task and make sure that they are competent for the task. They must have sufficient skills, knowledge and experience to safely complete the task.
Work undertaken must be pre-planned before starting the job. For example, what tools and materials will need to be used, consideration of the weather, etc. If provided, all appropriate PPE must be worn. If any PPE or machinery is faulty, this must be reported straight away to the Health and Safety Inspector.
If reasonable steps are not taken to protect your own health and safety and you are involved in an accident, that could have been easily prevented, you may be unable to pursue a claim.
What constitutes as ‘competent’ to work at heights?
People who have been trained should be employed for the job of working at heights. They should have sufficient knowledge, skills and experience to be employed to perform the task. Alternatively, they should work under the supervision of somebody competent to do the task.
If the task is low-risk (for example using ladders for a period of no more than 30 minutes), competent may be receiving instruction on how to use the equipment safely. Training on this nature usually takes place on the job and will not require ‘classroom’ training.
Manual handling claims
Manual handling can be dangerous if the appropriate equipment is not provided. The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 set out the rules and regulations which should be adhered to. Unfortunately, there are often breaches of these regulations which can lead to accidents occurring.
Common examples of where things can go wrong include inadequate lifting equipment, insufficient staffing levels, or general lack of training. If you are asked to lift an item weighing 20kg above head height, for example, your employer is in breach of the manual handling guidelines and if you suffer an injury they should be held accountable.
If you have been injured due to lifting, pushing, or pulling something it is important that you report your accident to your employer immediately. If possible find out the weight of the item you were moving
Trips and slips
The workplace can be dangerous if is it not appropriately organised and kept safe. The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 set out the rules and regulations which should be adhered to. However, there are often breaches of these regulations which can lead to accidents occurring.
A number of accidents which would fall into this category. However, a lot relates to employers failing to keep walkways clear of tripping hazards, such as boxes, pallets, and plastic coverings, or slipping hazards such as recently mopped floors or spillages.
In these types of claims, it is essential to establish what has caused the trip or slip and whether the employer could have reasonably been expected to keep the area clear.
If you have suffered a trip or slip at work, it is important that you report your accident to your employer immediately so they can investigate the cause of the accident. Seek medical attention by a first aider and get medical advice from your GP or local hospital.
Defective work equipment
Whether you work in a factory or an office, there is always a risk that work equipment can be dangerous and cause accidents. The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 set out the rules and regulations which should be adhered to. Unfortunately, there are often breaches of these regulations which can lead to accidents.
If machinery is not properly inspected and maintained it can break down and cause safety mechanisms to fail. We deal with a range of accidents due to faulty equipment, whether this is an exploding machine, machines failing to stop, or unsuitable cooking utensils – the list is endless.
If you have been injured due to faulty work equipment it is important that you report your accident to your employer so they can investigate the cause. Seek medical attention from a first aider and get medical advice from your GP or local hospital.
If you are considering making a claim you need to get specialist advice from experts in the field. Our specialist solicitors know how to get you the compensation you deserve and have years of experience helping clients following accidents at work.
Claims can be distressing, which is why we handle construction site claims on a no-win, no-fee basis. This means that if your claim is unsuccessful, you will have nothing to pay. We want to reassure you that there are no financial risks in making your claim.
Legal proceedings must be initiated within 3 years from the date of your accident. Failure to do this may result in your claim being time-barred and you may not be able to make a claim for compensation.
Maintenance and proper use of equipment are essential to keep employees safe. A faulty piece of machinery, just a missing cog or screw, can cause the machine to fail and become extremely dangerous. Hand injuries are particularly common, with it being necessary to operate machinery manually or fix problems when equipment fails.
Inadequate training can also lead to employees using machines in an unsafe and incorrect manner.
Personal protective equipment (PPE)
The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 sets out the rules and regulations which should be adhered to, however, unfortunately, there are often breaches of these regulations which can lead to accidents occurring.
Common examples of this include defective goggles, gloves or footwear, which may not be adequately maintained. Sometimes the PPE provided is not suitable at all and a better product may be available and not used. In some cases, PPE is available, but training has not been provided as to how to use it.
obtain photos of the equipment in question to show the fault.
Inadequate training claims
Accidents can happen if you haven’t received the appropriate training. Whilst there are different regulations that apply to the workplace regarding training, general provisions can be found in The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
Common examples of accidents which have occurred due to inadequate training include injuries caused by complex work equipment, a failure of an employer to advise about the correct personal protective equipment and inadequate manual handling training.
Sometimes your employer may seek to blame you for the accident, however if they have failed to train you, then you may still be entitled to compensation.
Accidents caused by colleagues or superiors
A common cause of injuries at work is due to the negligence of fellow workers. Your employer can be ‘vicariously liable’ for the actions of other workers, so the claim could run against your employer rather than your colleague personally.
It could be a practical joke gone wrong, a colleague leaving an item on the floor for you to trip over, or even a colleague colliding with you in a forklift truck.
If you have been injured by another worker, it is important that you report your accident to your employer so statements can be taken from those involved. Seek medical attention from a first aider and get medical advice from your GP or local hospital.
Managers, team leaders, and supervisors have a lot of responsibility and a good manager can be the difference between a working environment being safe or dangerous. There are occasions where the direct orders of a manager or supervisor can cause an accident (either by an employee being given dangerous instructions or by them failing to heed warnings of unsafe working practices).
If they fail to be mindful of safety themselves, or wilfully encourage employees to disregard their safety or the safety of others, the consequences of this are evident.
Workmates are essential for helping to get tasks done and teamwork is very important on a construction site. A mistake by a colleague can have catastrophic consequences in certain situations. Employers are responsible for the actions of all employees and ultimately, if a workmate has caused you to be involved in an accident, your employer is responsible for resulting injuries.
What is my Employers’ Liability claim worth?
Lord Donaldson has said, ‘suffering is very individual, no damages can compensate in any real sense.’ As such, this is very much dependent on the severity of your injuries and the effect it has had on your life. If symptoms are ongoing and are supported by the medical evidence, this would increase the value of your claim.
The best starting point for assessing damages is by reference to the Judicial College Guidelines, which set out financial brackets for common types of injury. The guidelines are broken down into the affected body parts and type and severity of the injury. They were introduced as it was recognised that whilst no two cases are ever precisely the same, justice was required to develop consistency between awards.
Precedent case law is also relied on to support the valuation and consideration must also be given to whether you have had a pre-existing disability or whether the injury accelerated a pre-existing condition. Even where the older injury may not be symptomatic at the time of the accident, it is something that will have to be considered and would affect the value of your claim.
I am self-employed but I was working on a construction site when I was injured. The accident was not my fault. Can I still claim?
Yes. If the accident was caused by the actions of an employee of another company, for example, you could attempt to pursue a claim against that company. If the accident was caused by the site being disorganised, you could attempt to make a claim against the company in control of the site.
It would be up to your legal representative to advise you on the merits of your claim and the possibility of claiming compensation.
Will I lose my job if I make a claim against my employer?
You should not lose your job or be dismissed if you make a claim against your employer. Your employer may stop giving you shifts at work or look to fire you. If this happens, we suggest speaking to our employment department who could assist you further with this.
Click here for a full list of our Employment services. Alternatively – telephone our Employment Department on 0113 200 9776.
Will making a claim help to change unsafe practices in the workplace?
There is obviously no guarantee that making a claim will change things for the better for other employees (or improve your own safety if you continue to work at the Defendants’ premises), but it could help to highlight dangers that exist if they have previously been overlooked.
If you have concerns about safety in the workplace at any point during the course of your employment, ensure you report it to the appropriate person. If you do not feel that your complaint has been adequately dealt with, speak to that person’s superior. Never let unsafe working practices go unchecked. Prevention is always better than cure.
Will I need to attend Court?
Whilst most claims are resolved without attendance at Court being required, there is small chance you may need to give evidence.
Reasons why your employers may refuse to settle your claim are varied. Some examples of reasons a claim can be turned down are:
Can I claim for a loved one who has died?
If in the unfortunate event that you have lost a love one due to a workplace accident, you still may be entitled to claim compensation on their behalf. You may also be able to claim a statutory bereavement award (currently £12,980), which is separate to a claim for compensation. This is available if you’re the spouse, civil partner or parent (if they’re under 18) of the deceased.
The time limit for bringing these cases is 3 years from the date of death.
Can I claim for loss of earnings?
Yes, both past and future loss of earnings can be considered in a claim if supported by medical evidence.
If your injury is very serious and your ability to work in the future has been affected, you can claim for the disadvantage you will have when seeking employment in the future.
If you intend to claim loss of earnings, either past loss of earnings or future, it is important to retain the following documentation:
How is my case funded?
We offer a ‘no-win, no-fee’ funding option, which means that unless you win your case you will not have to pay anything. There are no hidden charges and we do not ask for any money upfront.
All we ask is that you uphold your side of the agreement, and we will handle the rest. Namely that you do not mislead us, co-operate with us and attend any scheduled appointments/hearing dates. If despite this, your case is unsuccessful, there will be no charge to you. If the case succeeds, there will be a deduction made from your damages which is discussed if your case is accepted by our firm.
I have suffered from an accident at work, but I stopped working at the company a while ago. Can I still make a claim?
It does not matter that you no longer work for the company or may be retired. If you have started a claim and stopped working with the company, this would also not affect your claim, but we would advise that you obtain any supportive evidence from your employer before you leave.
If the company goes into liquidation or administration, you may still be able to bring a claim against the company as long as they had employers’ liability insurance in place at the time of the accident, to meet the cost of your claim.
Will I get sick pay?
If you need time off work due to an accident at work, you may only have the right to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you are employed by the company directly.
Your employer may agree to pay you fully but this will depend on your contract and may be at the discretion of your employer. Check with your employer to clarify this and ensure you obtain sick notes from your GP to support your time off work.
If you work through an agency, your employer may not pay for time off work. Again, you may need to check with the agency and the company you are placed at to ensure you are aware of their policy. However, you should still be entitled to SSP.
If you have a loss of earnings claim, this can be included as part of your claim if supported by the medical evidence. You will have to provide copies of your wage slips for 13 weeks pre-accident and your wage slips following the accident so we are able to calculate the losses.
If you have to take time off work, you could be eligible to be paid by your employer in full or by claiming SSP. In order to claim SSP you have to:
If you are not sure what kind of benefits you are entitled to claim, a charity we work with – Turn2Us – can provide further information and support to you.
Please note: Any benefits which claimed as a result of your accident must be offset against any successful loss of earnings claim or care claim depending on the type of benefits. The defendant will register the claim with the Department of Work and Pensions who will provide us with this information. If you have not claimed for any benefits, this should not affect you.
Does the accident have to be in the workplace?
It may be that you have been placed on a different site to your usual place of employment and this does not prevent you from making a claim. Depending on the circumstances it may be that someone other than your employer could be responsible, for example if you tripped on a pothole making a delivery at someone else’s premises.
What is a risk assessment?
An employer has a duty of care to ensure that their employees are safe whilst at work and protect them from danger as much as is reasonably possible.
Legislation states that employers should conduct sufficient risk assessments of the workplace to assure that certain safety measures are in place to protect their employees.
The risk assessments should make sure that:
What should I do after I have been injured in an accident at work?
If you are injured at work, you need to do the following:
If you cannot drive, call an ambulance. It may be that if the circumstances of the accident are due to a dangerous situation that you talk to your union representative or it is reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) using the RIDDOR reporting (Reporting of Injuries, Disease and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations).
If you have had a fall from height, the first thing you should do is seek medical attention. Your health takes priority. No matter how minor your injuries seem, adrenaline usually kicks in and you may not know the initial damaged caused.
If you receive first aid at the scene of the incident, we still recommend going to the GP or local hospital. This medical check-up will also serve as evidence of your injuries are the circumstances surrounding the incident.
Once you have received medical treatment, you should report the incident to your employer (if you haven’t already done so). Make sure an accident book entry is recorded correctly, that all the information is correct and that it is signed by the relevant people.
In certain cases, such as loss of consciousness, your accident must be reported in compliance with the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases, and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR). For the purposes of RIDDOR, an accident is a separate identifiable, unintended incident that causes personal injury.
They will need to carry out a full inspection of the incident. It is important to have documented evidence, as this will help prove the accident happened and that the injuries you have sustained are a result of the incident.
You should obtain the names and contact information of any witnesses, or information of anybody who was involved in the accident.
Are there any charities that could help me?
Why use Oakwood Solicitors Ltd to make your Employers’ Liability or Accident at Work case?
Oakwood Solicitors Ltd is an expert in Employers’ Liability cases and has over twenty years of experience in running and pursuing these cases.
We will ensure that we update you at every stage of the case and you will have a dedicated handler from the very beginning. It can be very stressful after an injury and our team can assist you by breaking down the legal jargon during the process and listening to you.
When you instruct us, you can expect a friendly, down to earth approach together with extensive knowledge of the field which will be used to fight tenaciously with the insurers to achieve the maximum level of compensation possible for you.
1) Construction site accident
Mr. X worked for a construction firm. The site was busy and the contract was behind. Lots of people were on-site and many jobs were being conducted at once. There was no suitable organisation of the site and work was being conducted in a chaotic manner.
The firm should have ensured that pedestrians and traffic could circulate in a safe manner. Mr. X was walking from one side of the site to another. There was an open trench that was not properly highlighted or cordoned off. Furthermore, it was obscured by other equipment, and it was therefore impossible to be seen.
As Mr. X walked across the site, his left foot inadvertently went into the trench and he fell 2m into the ground. He injured his leg and back and was unable to work for three months.
It was successfully argued that Mr. X’s employees failed to ensure he could safely navigate the site throughout the course of his duties and were responsible for the actions of the employees who did not cordon off the hole sufficiently. The workplace was disorganised and unsafe and employees were inadequately trained in the necessary safety procedures.
Mr. X’s employers, through their insurers, admitted they were at fault for the accident. Mr. X attended a medical examination which concluded he had suffered a soft tissue injury to his back, which took 18 months to fully resolve. He received 8,000 in compensation.
2) Wrist injury
Mr. Y had worked for the defendant for many years and enjoyed his job. He was only a couple of years from retirement and planned to continue working until this time.
One day, whilst at work, the claimant tripped on the remains of a fixture that had been left following the removal of equipment. The Claimant fell and suffered a significant injury to his wrist. Unfortunately, due to the severity of his injury, the Claimant was unable to return to work and was forced to take early retirement.
Evidence was obtained to demonstrate that the claimant’s injury was the cause of early retirement.
A claim was submitted for injuries, loss of earnings, and the impact of early retirement on the claimant’s pension. A settlement was agreed at an amount that the claimant was extremely happy with, and he was able to finally enjoy his retirement.
3) Workplace fall
On 9th January 2014, Mr. D was involved in an accident at work. He was attempting to climb down from the side of a lorry, when he suddenly fell to the ground due to there being no steps attached/ provided to safely disembark from the vehicle. As a result, Mr. D, unfortunately, sustained permanent injury to his leg and had to attend hospital to assist with his symptoms on numerous occasions.
The claim was submitted to his employer with the arguments that they were negligent and/or had failed to comply with the Work Place (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992 (the Workplace Regulations), Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (the Work Equipment Regulations), and The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (The Management Regulations). The regulations are in place and are meant to be complied with in order to protect employees from being involved in such accidents.
The representatives for Mr. D’s employer eventually admitted liability after investigating the circumstances around the accident and the safety procedures in place at the time. Following the admission, a medical examination was arranged in order to obtain a diagnosis and prognosis for the injuries sustained.
Whilst this was being done, the 3 year limitation period allowed for claims such as these arose. In order to prevent it from becoming ‘statute barred’, the claim was protectively issued with the Court.
Once Mr. D’s medical evidence and schedule of losses and expenses were complete, negotiations commenced with his employer’s representatives. Eventually, we were able to negotiate a settlement figure of £27,500.00 for him.
Mr. D – “I was really happy with the settlement I received.”
4) Laceration and scarring
On 25th September 2015, Mr. E was involved in an accident at work. He was making his way across the company’s office when he tripped and fell over a stool that had been left in a walkway. Mr. E sustained a deep laceration to the front of his shin which subsequently became infected, leaving him with a large permanent concave scar.
The claim was submitted to the employer’s representatives with the arguments that they were negligent and/or had failed to comply with the Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992 (the Workplace Regulations), the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (the Work Equipment Regulations) and The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (The Management Regulations).
After investigating the circumstances of the accident, the representatives admitted liability, meaning Mr. E’s medical evidence and details of his losses/expenses could be obtained.
Once complete, settlement negotiations were initiated with the representatives, and a figure of £23,000.00 was subsequently agreed. This compensation figure included Mr. E’s pain, suffering, and loss of amenity (his injuries), damage to personal items, and past medication expenses. It also included funds for future expenses for recommendations made by the medical expert, including an emollient cream to moisturise the scar and cosmetic camouflage cream to hide the scar when on show.
Mr E – “I was kept up to date and was happy with the service throughout the claim.”
If you believe or feel you have a claim, contact us for a free initial consultation regarding your options.
Beverley Barker is an experienced Paralegal in our Employers’ and Public Liability Department, having begun her career at Thompsons Solicitors in Sheffield in 1997. She has also worked for Irwin Mitchell, Ison Harrison, Walker Morris and is one of the original members of the Oakwood Solicitors team.
Having recently returned to the firm, she also has experience of Debt Recovery matters and Road Traffic Accidents. She deals solely with Claimant work and is passionate about helping clients who have been involved in non-fault accidents and suffered as a result. She is professional, approachable and able to deal with both complex legal issues and day-to-day queries.