It doesn't matter where you work; all employers have a responsibility to keep you safe while you're at work. This is their duty of care, and it's a legal requirement.
Even so, accidents still do happen. So if you've been unfortunate enough to find yourself on the receiving end of an accident at work, you might be eligible for compensation.
This guide will explore when you can make a personal injury claim, typical accident at work compensation examples and advice on the steps you need to take to make a claim for a work accident.
The compensation you'll receive for accidents at work depends on the severity of your injury. For example, a minor foot injury that you'll recover from is worth £5,000 - £11,730. However, permanent eye damage can entitle you to up to £200,000.
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It's important to define what we mean by accidents in the workplace. There are three strict criteria to be used when deciding if something is classed as an accident in the workplace.
According to the Health and Safety Executive, an accident is "a separate, identifiable, unintended incident which causes physical injury". This means that if you weren't injured, you won't get a payout - it would be classed as a near miss and not an accident.
So, let's assume you were injured. The accident has to also be something that happened while you were carrying out your work duties.
So if you're racing office chairs and you fall over, you don't get to make a claim – horsing around is not the same as being injured whilst carrying out your duties.
Secondly, to be a successful claim, the accident can't be your fault. This could mean it was a mistake by someone else you're working with or a safety oversight on your employer's part that could be classed as negligence.
Thirdly, you need to show that your employer was liable. For example, if you were injured as a result of your employer not taking the necessary steps to prevent incidents from happening, they are at fault. For example, an employer expecting staff to work with machinery in poor repair or without proper training would be classed as negligence.
The most common types of accidents and injuries in the workplace are:
• Slips, trips and falls on the same level
• Injuries caused by handling, lifting or carrying items
• Being struck by a moving object
• Acts of violence by an employer or colleague
• Falls from a height
• Struck against something fixed or stationary
• Contact with moving machinery
• struck by a moving vehicle
• Trapped by something collapsing/overturning
• Injured by an animal
There are other types too, which usually prove fatal – including contact with electricity or exposure to an explosion.
While it is harder always to categorise the cause of a workplace accident, here are five of the most common examples;
• Poorly maintained equipment and machinery that either breaks down or exposes dangerous elements, such as wiring or sharp edges that should be shielded
• Unsafe walkways – either in an office or warehouse – where paths aren't kept clear, or cleaning is done on slippery surfaces without adequate warning signs
• Lack of proper training given to employees on how to correctly and safely use equipment or on the proper health and safety methods for carrying and lifting
• Expectations placed on employees to work unsafe long hours, causing fatigue and increasing the likelihood of accidents
• Acts of violence caused by other colleagues or senior employees
Yes – anyone who is injured at work when it's not their fault is entitled to compensation. You just need to make sure that it hits those three criteria – it was part of your work duties, it wasn't your fault, and your employer was liable in some way.
It doesn't matter whether you're a fully employed member of staff or a contractor; if you have a work accident, then you're allowed to pursue a work compensation claim to cover lost earnings and as damages for the injury suffered.
If you can prove the three criteria, then yes, a road traffic accident that happens while you are on work duty does count as a workplace accident. However, for your employer to be liable, you would have to show that the accident was in some way their fault.
So if you were on a work trip and your employer was driving and was being reckless, or if you were driving a company vehicle that had an accident due to a mechanical fault, as the car had not been properly maintained, then you would be able to make a compensation claim.
A lot of people are concerned about making a claim for a workplace accident, especially those who have loyalty to the company and their employer.
However, it's important to remember a couple of things. Firstly, you are entitled to work in a safe environment, and if injured, it is unfair for you to lose money because of something that wasn't your fault.
Secondly, your employer will have insurance for these sorts of incidents. So they won't be paying you out of their own pocket but instead making a claim on an existing policy. So you don't have to be concerned about harming your company's financial status by making a claim.
The safest way to ensure you give yourself the best chance of receiving compensation after an accident at work is to seek legal advice. Fortunately, many personal injury solicitors work on 'no win, no fee terms' - if your claim isn't successful, you don't pay their fees.
You need to also document the accident in full. Make sure you record what happened, and ask a third party who witnessed the event to record their own statement. Follow your workplace's procedures for reporting accidents and make your own notes and take photos, as these will be useful in the case you build.
If you're injured at work, you are not automatically entitled to full pay unless a clause is specially written into your contract. Instead, you will be entitled to claim statutory sick pay (SSP) along with any other sick pay that your company offers.
You can factor the loss of earnings into your compensation claim. For example, if you stand to lose a lot of money because of an accident caused by your employer's negligence, then you can ask for that to be considered when your claim is decided, and you may get extra money to cover your losses.
If you're injured at work, you are entitled to time off to recover from your injuries sufficiently. You'll be paid statutory sick pay during your time away from the workplace, along with any other sick pay that is in your contract.
You are also entitled to support to make sure the accident is reported properly and handled so that the cause of the accident is identified and rectified.
You are then entitled to make a claim for compensation if you are injured.
It's very difficult to give just one average payout for a personal injury claim in the UK, but for mild accidents, it is likely between £10,000 and £40,000. For moderately severe injuries, it is more likely to be between £150,000 and £250,000.
The average cost isn't clear because it depends on a number of factors, including the type of injury suffered and any other loss of earnings and other costs that you could claim. How permanent the injury is matters, too – something long term will be worth more compensation than a short-term injury that'll heal within a few weeks.
Your compensation calculation is based on a number of factors. Firstly, the injury you suffered and how permanent it is. Secondly, any lost earnings, and thirdly any other factors that your injury may have caused you, such as difficulties in everyday life outside of work or any mental trauma.
You don't automatically get compensation for a fall in the UK. Compensation is calculated based on the injuries suffered. So if you fall over on a softer surface and don't hurt yourself, then there's no claim to make.
A fall could result in any number of injuries depending on whether it's a same-level fall or one from a height, but any claim will be calculated around the actual injuries suffered.
There are lots of different types of injury, but here are just some of the examples of how much you could be entitled to if you made a compensation claim due to an injury. Your solicitor can give you more advice on how much your work claim could be worth
• Head injury is treated very seriously because a minor bump can cause memory issues, while severe head injuries could lead to brain damage. Claims vary between £14,000 and £380,000 for those left unresponsive.
• Shoulder Injury – from soft tissue injuries to full restriction of movement, you could get between £5,000 and £45,000
• Elbow injury – mild injuries are worth up to £11,820 while the most severe injuries vary between £36,000 and £51,000.
• Hand injury – up to £4,461 for mild injuries, or up to £100,000 for crush injuries or anything that may require amputation. A hand injury can have a long term impact on your ability to work, so seeking personal injury compensation is necessary.
• Arm injury – less severe injuries can be settled for anything up to £36,000. Extremely severe, including partial amputation or any future life restrictions, have a top limit of around £280,000.
• Leg injury – less severe injuries, including simple leg fractures, can be worth up to £26,000. The most severe injuries, including those where amputation may be needed, are up to £260,000.
• Knee injury – one of the most common injuries after a fall, long-term soft tissue injuries can get up to £90,000
• Ankle injury – the most serious ankle injury is worth around £65,000, while mild sprains entitle you to up to £12,000
• Back injury – another extremely common workplace injury, anything moderate with long-term impacts could be worth up to £36,000. Serious injuries, including organ issues, are worth more, up to £150,000.
In short, no. By law, you can't legally be dismissed for making a claim against your employer. Besides, this is the kind of thing employers have insurance for - your employer will not be the one forking out for workplace injury claims. If you feel you've been unfairly dismissed after making a claim following an accident at work, seek legal advice as soon as possible.
You should also not be blackmailed into dropping your case. If your employer starts to try to scare you into ending your claim, threatening your job status, try to get written evidence of the threat. This can then be used to prove your employer is liable for damages too.
Any compensation calculation for a personal injury claim has to consider both physical injury and mental trauma. A number of factors are considered – not just your ability to work but also any difficulties you will have with everyday life, including whether trauma could impact your ability to relax and sleep at night.
Suppose your personal injury drastically changes your life. In that case, you are entitled to a higher compensation value because you will need to make adjustments to get you back to the standard of life you had before the accident or as close to it as possible.
The claims process for personal injury is relatively straightforward. However, once you've documented your accident, you should seek the help of a solicitor or a claims management company who can take on your case. Unlike some compensation cases, it's not recommended to pursue a personal injury case on your own without help.
The company will look at your case and decide whether you can proceed, and then they'll take on all of the admin and bringing the case to your employer, if necessary, attending court on your behalf to argue your case. It's very rare that you would need to attend court yourself.
Your personal injury claim value will be a combination of a number of elements. First, you will file for injury compensation based on how severe your injury is and how much it impacts your life – this could be anything from a few hundred pounds up to six-figure sums for the most severe cases.
You can then layer on lost earnings if you have been unable to work during the time of making your claim and if your future career is impacted due to a long-term injury. Then any mental pain and suffering caused by the accident may be added to your claim too.
When claiming for personal injury, you're able to ask that your future working life is considered in your claim. If reasonable adjustments need to be made to continue with your current role, this can be included as a clause, where if successful, your business has to make those adjustments for you.
If you need counselling or other mental health support to deal with trauma following your injury, that can be claimed too.
Beyond that, most personal injury claims deal with the compensation for the injury itself and any lost earnings during the claim period.
There are two types of company you can employ to help you with accident at work claims. Many people prefer to use solicitors who specialise in work claims to give expert advice with their legal experience. The alternative is to use a claims management company. These may not have the same level of legal expertise, but they are experienced in making personal injury claims.
Solicitors might sound like a scary option, but don't worry – most work on a no win no fee arrangement, so there aren't major costs involved if you don't win your case. Solicitors are experts in the laws around an accident at work claim and can give you advice on the best chance of success.
Choose a claims management company to handle your work injury compensation, such as the National Accident Helpline. They will still have experience in law and may even use trained solicitors. But instead of working with one person, you'll have a personal injury team. This can have its positives and negatives – you may get advice from multiple sources, but your case might also be passed around.
Make sure whether you choose a solicitor or a claims management company that you opt for a reputable one. Read reviews and advice from past clients online before you commit.
An employee has the right to claim personal injury at work and keep their job without any discrimination or harassment, no matter the result of their claim.
Employees also have rights regarding statutory sick pay (SSP), which is paid for any time the employee needs to take off from work due to the injury suffered.
No, being a member of a union does not impact a personal injury claim. But, if anything, it may be beneficial as you'll have the advice of union leaders on how best to handle your work accident claim, and they can protect you if your employer starts mistreating you.
A no win no fee agreement is pretty self-explanatory – it's where your solicitors or claims management company agrees not to charge you a fee if you don't win your case.
This is reassuring, as it means you won't have to pay them huge sums if your case isn't strong enough. But, on the flip side, it also means they are more likely to refuse to take your case on if they don't see it as an easy win.
While the success fee can vary, most solicitors and claims management companies will charge around 25%. This may sound high, but remember that they are helping you to keep 75% of the compensation awarded that you would likely not have received at all without their help.
Yes, no win no fee agreements can be trusted. It's just important to note that it doesn't exclude you from all fees if your case is unsuccessful. While your own representation won't charge you, you could be asked to cover your opponent's legal costs. It's worth having legal insurance to protect you in these instances.
There's no easy answer to give here. It depends on the individual circumstances of your accident and how serious your injury is.
Due to the prevalence of claims management companies contacting people in the last 10-20 years, companies are savvier and will defend themselves against fraudulent claims. Don't stretch the truth or exaggerate an injury in a bid to make more money – it won't work and could result in legal trouble.
However, if you have genuinely suffered an accident at work that wasn't your fault, just make sure you document as much evidence as possible, and you are likely to have a strong case.
Absolutely – if your injuries have not made it impossible to carry out your work, then you can continue in your role. Your employer cannot discriminate against you in any way or sack you.
If your workplace injury isn't something that hampers your ability to do your job – such as an office worker suffering a leg injury – then it makes sense to return to work as quickly as possible, as statutory sick pay is unlikely to cover your salary and expenses.
However, if your injury does impact work, don't rush back – you could make it worse, and it would undermine your claim.
If you're injured to the extent of not being able to make your own compensation claim, then a spouse or family member can claim on your behalf.
They will need to follow the same processes in gathering evidence and speaking to either solicitors or claims management company. Any judgement will then either pay you directly or, if more appropriate, go to the spouse or family member so that they can administer the fund to provide for your care.
Suppose you have a complex personal situation, and you have family members who you would not want to administer these decisions for you if you are incapacitated. In that case, you can have legal documents drawn up to nominate a decision-maker as part of a will. Seek advice for this as soon as possible - before any potential future work accident.
Here at Money Savings Advice, we have partnered with some of the UK’s leading Personal Injury Claims management companies. They have already helped thousands of people claim compensation for injuries they have incurred, and they can do the same for you.
Choosing an independent claims management company means they won’t proceed with a claim unless they are sure it is in your best interests. They are also regulated by the FCA, which gives you an additional layer of protection.
If you would like to speak to one of these claim management companies who can help you make a compensation claim, then click on the below and answer the very simple questions.
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