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Accidents at Work

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What is an employers’ liability (EL) or accidents at work claim?

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. According to the Health and Safety Executive for the year of 2017 to 2018:

  • 144 workers were killed at work.
  • 555,000 injuries occurred at work.
  • 71, 062 injuries were reported under RIDDOR.
  • 7 million days were lost to work-related illness and injury.
  • £15 billion was spent on the cost of injuries and ill-health from current working conditions.

Accidents can happen in the physical workplace, or in the course of business whilst being engaged in a work activity. Every 7 seconds an employee is injured in a workplace accident. Check our interactive guide to some common workplace accident scenarios:


What are the most common accidents at work?

Common workplace accidents can be as simple as a fall or a paper cut. However, some incidents can be very serious or even fatal. It can be caused by another colleague who failed to carry out their training. Below are some examples of accidents at work, but are not limited to:

  • Burns and lacerations.
  • Claims for accidents at work caused by colleagues.
  • Construction Site Claims.
  • Crushing Injuries.
  • Faulty Work equipment claims.
  • Foot and Ankle Injuries.
  • Hand and Finger Injuries.
  • Inadequate Training claims.
  • Knee and Leg Claims.
  • Manual Handling Claims.
  • Neck and Back injuries.
  • Personal Protective Equipment.
  • Shoulder, Elbow and Arm.
  • Trip or Slip Claims.
  • Working at Height Claims.

work gear


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:

  • Painter and Decorator – They are usually on ladders working at heights. Nearly a fifth of all fatalities in the workplace are due to falls from heights.
  • Electrician – They are exposed not only to the risk of electricity but also from working again at heights.
  • Civil Engineer – There is a risk to heavy machinery, heights, being struck by moving vehicles and electricity.
  • Refuse collector – They potentially face being run over at roadside as well as exposure to bacteria from the refuse and heavy machinery in recycling plants. Last year 10% of all fatalities were from this sector.
  • Miner – They face a host of hazards such as the risk of mines collapsing, working with heavy machinery and exposure to dust particulars. Considering that mines are not as prominent as they once were it still accounts for 3% of all fatalities.
  • Mechanic – There is a risk not only in the garage such as injuries from cars, bikes, buses and vans but also being called out to roadside rescues.
  • Lorry driver – They spend long days on the road in a variety of different weather conditions with heavily loaded vehicles, There were 14 deaths in one year in this industry alone.
  • Factory worker – In every industry involving a factory there are risks due to the risk of crush, damage to hands, working with heavy machinery, etc.
  • Farmer – They often work alone. They work with heavy machinery, exposed to potential animal attacks, moving vehicles. 20% of workplace accidents happen on farms.
  • Builders – Including roofers and scaffolders. This is considered to be the most dangerous job where employees are exposed to constant height issues, electricity, and risk of collapsing structures.

Who does it affect?

Any employee who was employed for wages or a salary would fall into this category. This would also cover contractors who may have had an accident at work whilst their company has placed them on a different site to their usual place of employment.

It may affect you where another colleague has caused the accident at work or where your Supervisor has insisted you complete the job, not taking into consideration the health and safety aspect. In many industries, companies tend to hire contractors and self-employed workers to carry out work on projects.

It is a common misconception that self-employed workers are always responsible for their own health and safety in the workplace. 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 employing company and contractor, a self-employed person 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.

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

General damages are awards that are 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 compensates the claimant 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

This is a head of damages to compensate for any financial losses or out-of-pocket expenses as a result of the accident at work. This would include but is 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 not able to do things such as gardening, walking the dog and have to pay somebody for these services as a direct 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.

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 effects it has had on your life. If the 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, the type of injury, and the severity of the injury. The Guidelines 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.

Employers' Liability


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:

  • Report it to your employer as soon as possible, or if nobody is available – ensure you have reported it by sending an email/text to your line manager so there is written proof of the accident.
  • Log the accident in the Accident Book or write it down and ensure a copy/photograph is kept.
  • If you are injured you must seek immediate medical advice either at your GP surgery or the local Accident and Emergency Department at Hospital. Make the hospital aware it was an accident at work and what happened. This will assist your case as there will be further proof of the circumstances. 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).
  • Take photographs of where your accident happened, any defective equipment and details of witnesses willing to provide evidence.

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. It is therefore ideal to 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 you for your 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 Statutory Sick Pay.

If you have a loss of earnings claim, this can be included as part of your claim if it is 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 employers in full or by claiming SSP or Statutory Sick Pay. In order to claim SSP you have to:

  • Have done some work for your employer.
  • Been off work for over four full days in a row.
  • Earn on average £118 per week.

If your injury is very severe you may also be entitled to Industrial Injuries Disablement benefits. Details of this can be found here.

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 are claimed for 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.

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 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 three 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.


“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 as the claim will be against their Employers Liability insurance. 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 there was Employers Liability insurance in place at the time of the accident, then you will be able to make a claim.

“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 head of Department, Ben Palmer on 0113 200 9776.

Pictorial Guide


How long will my case take to run?

It will depend on various matters, such as:

  • Level of your injury.
  • Ongoing treatment.
  • Whether your employers admit fault.
  • Whether proceedings would need to be issued to secure compensation.
  • Speed of communication between parties.
  • Issues with your medical records/reports.

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 at work. Your solicitor shall advise you if there are issues that arise which will mean the duration of your case will be affected.

Why use Oakwood Solicitors Ltd to make your Employers’ Liability or Accident at Work case?

Oakwood Solicitors are experts in Employers Liability cases and have 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.



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.

Are There Any Charities That Could Help Me?

Lighthouse club 

Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

Turn 2 Us – providing financial support


Get in touch today for a free initial consultation. Choose one of the methods on the right-hand side of this page, or call us on 0113 200 9787 to find out how we can help you with your Employers’ Liability claim.

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Burns and Lacerations at Work

Sometimes cuts and grazes can be minor, but sometimes lacerations can lead to permanent scarring, which can be embarrassing if the scarring is visible. A single noticeable scar with some minor cosmetic defect can justify awards between £2,080.00 and £6,870.00, however more serious scarring could justify an award up to £19,930.00. Burns cause a greater…

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Claims For Accidents Caused By Colleagues

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. In some cases, it can be a practical joke gone wrong, a colleague leaving an…

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Construction Site Claims

Whilst there are many regulations and safeguards in place to protect employees from the dangers of working on construction sites, accidents happen and mistakes are made. The risks to employees on construction sites are varied and extreme, so we have broken down some of the most common incidents in a little more detail throughout this…

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Crushing Injuries

As solicitors, a common type of injury we see on a day to day basis is what we call a crushing injury, which involves a part of the body being crushed, usually fingers or toes. This could be due to items being dropped or being trapped in doors or work equipment. These types of injuries…

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Faulty Work Equipment Claims

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 sets out the rules and regulations which should be adhered to, however unfortunately, there are often breaches of these regulations which can lead…

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Foot and Ankle Injuries at Work

Injuries to the foot and ankle are common where people have tripped on uneven surfaces and rolled over on the ankle. This can make walking and other tasks very difficult, causing pain and inconvenience. The guidelines state that modest ankle injuries warrant an award up to £12,050.00, however where recovery is complete within any ongoing…

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Hand and Finger Injuries at Work

Injuries to the hands and fingers are very common injuries that can have a very detrimental effect on daily living. There is a whole range of guidance as to how much these cases are worth, with total loss of an index finger warranting an award of £16,420.00 and amputation of a little finger being £7,580.00…

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Head and Facial Injuries at Work

Head injuries can be serious and can cause severe pain and discomfort, with accompanying headaches. A minor brain or head injury can attract an award of between £1,940.00 and £11,200.00 depending in the presence of headaches, extent of continuing symptoms, severity of the initial injury and the time taken to recover. If facial injuries are…

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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…

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Knee and Leg Injuries at Work

Suffered a knee or leg injury in the workplace? Trip, slips and accidents at work can often result in injuries to the knee and leg, making it difficult to walk or carry out everyday tasks. Taking into account this inconvenience, moderate knee injuries where a recovery has been complete will attract an award of £5,250.00…

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Manual Handling Claims

Always take care when lifting heavy objects   Manual handling can be dangerous if the appropriate equipment is not provided. The Manual Handling Operations 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…

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Neck and Back Injuries at Work

Not only can accidents cause injuries to the spine, they can also make existing injuries or general wear and tear a lot worse. In personal injury claims you may often hear reference to an accident causing an exacerbation (making worse) or an acceleration (bringing forward) of symptoms. These types of injuries can still be worth…

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Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Claims

Injuries can be caused by inadequate or defective 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…

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Shoulder, Elbow and Arm Injuries at Work

Injuries to the upper limbs can cause severe discomfort and have a detrimental effect on day-to-day life.   Early physiotherapy is essential to ensure a person gets back to their pre-accident state as quickly as possible. However, for some, a full recovery is not always possible. Minor shoulder injuries in where the symptoms have lasted…

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Trip or Slip Claims

The workplace can be dangerous if is it not appropriately organised and kept safe. The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) 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. There are a number of accidents which…

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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, not to mention scary and both physically and mentally challenging. There are…

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