If you sustain an injury at work, you may be entitled to make a personal injury claim.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Labour Force Survey, in 2021/2022 approximately 565,000 people sustained an injury whilst at work and 36.8 million working days were lost due to work-related illness and/or workplace injuries. In the same year, the Compensation Recovery Unit recorded 43,769 legal cases lodged and 63,071 settlements reached for accident at work claims only. Therefore, it is clear there is a large gap between the amount of people reportedly being injured every year and those reported to have made claims.
A personal injury claim allows you to bring a claim against your employer in order to hopefully be awarded compensation for the injuries and losses suffered because of the accident/injury sustained.
What should I do?
Firstly, you should ensure you keep as much evidence from the accident as possible and ensure you have reported the accident at work through the most appropriate means. This will vary from workplace to workplace but will usually be detailed within your staff/employee handbook. This will normally involve a RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations) report to the HSE. All companies who have 10 or more employees must keep an accident logbook and record all accidents, smaller companies will have their own system if they do not keep an accident log book. If in doubt, report it to your manager. Once you have reported the accident/incident, make sure you ask your employer for a copy of this written record for your own purposes.
If you are self-employed, you should report the accident to the Health and Safety Executive directly.
If you have not already sought medical help as a result of your injury, it is advisable that you make an appointment with your GP as soon as possible after the incident so that there is written medical evidence of the injuries sustained, the extent and severity of them. It will also be important for a record to be kept of all treatments, medications and possible surgeries obtained.
If the injury is a result of your employer’s fault or a client’s fault then you may be able to claim compensation for the injury sustained.
How do I make a compensation claim for my injuries sustained at work?
Approach The Major Trauma Group whom will appoint a local specialist solicitor and tell them as much about the incident as possible alongside providing them with all of the information and evidence you have.
The appointed solicitor will explain the process and depending on the initial information you have provided, they may be able to provide you with an indication of your likely success. Depending on your likelihood of success, the solicitor will advise you accordingly and normally send a letter of claim in the first instance and lodge a claim against your employer on your behalf and assist you thereafter.
It is important to note that it is not a requirement to issue proceedings at all and claims can even be resolved without including the courts.
Bringing a civil claim can be lengthy, however, your solicitor should help you to establish liability early on and hopefully bring the case to a conclusion as early as reasonably and suitably practicable.
When should I make the claim?
It is important to note that personal injury claims normally have a time limit of 3 years. This means that you can only usually bring a claim against your employers in the immediate 3 years after the specific date of the accident. After this period, you will no longer be able to bring a claim.
There are a couple of exceptions if for example, you are under 18 at the time of the injury, you have 3 years from your 18th birthday to make a claim. Also if you are assessed as being a Protected Party and unable as a result of mental capacity to bring a legal claim yourself then the normal 3 year limitation period doesn’t apply.
The rules around time limits and limitation periods can be particularly complex and so where you are unsure, it is best to consult a solicitor to receive expert advice.
What is liability and why is it important?
Liability essentially means the legal responsibility for an act or omission done.
Primary liability is important as it essentially establishes who is at fault and who is to “blame” for the accident. Without primary liability being established or admitted, there can be no claim as it will be undetermined as to who is ultimately responsible.
It can be the case however that someone can be found partly to blame or contributory negligent but still awarded compensation. It is therefore important to get specialist legal advice in all cases.
How has the law changed in assessing liability?
Previously under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, if an employee had suffered an accident or injury at work they could rely on the health and safety legislation to establish liability. This is often referred to as “strict liability.” This meant that due to the employer’s general duty under the health and safety legislation, if an accident happened liability was already established; fault, negligence or culpability did not need to be proven. Just by virtue of the employer’s duties under the act, if an accident occurred, they would be held liable. It would then be the employer’s burden to prove that they had followed the health and safety legislation and they were not liable.
However, the law changed in October 2013. Section 69 of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 made bringing a claim against your employer more difficult. Strict liability (referred to above) no longer automatically applies. This means that if you are injured at work and wish to bring a claim against your employer you will need to prove that there was negligence/fault on their part which resulted in your injury in order to establish liability.
The legislative change has undoubtedly added that extra hurdle for employees wishing to bring a claim. If you require assistance in bringing a claim against your employer and proving fault/negligence on their part, then please seek legal advice for expert help.
What if my employer reacts badly?
It is likely that by raising the fact that you suffered an injury at work through no fault of your own but due to the fault of your employer that it could amount to a protected disclosure under the whistleblowing legislation. Particularly if it relates to yours or others health and safety being or likely to be endangered (section 43B(d) Employment Rights Act 1996). If an employee or worker makes what it is called a “
qualifying disclosure” which they reasonably believe to be in the public interest this would amount to a protected disclosure and the employee/worker (i.e. the whistleblower) will be protected from being dismissed or subjected to a detriment as a result of making that disclosure.
Will I be able to claim some benefits?
If you are an employee you may also be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay, if not, you may be able to claim Universal Credit or another type of benefit. The benefits you are entitled to will depend on your employment status and your contractual relationship with your employer.
However your specialist solicitor from Major Trauma Group should be able to refer you for some separate specialist employment law advice on employment claims or whistleblowing.
How Major Trauma Group can help
Major Trauma Group members are specialist solicitors whom can guide you through making a civil claim if you have suffered an injury or accident at work. It is vital that you have the right legal support by your side should you wish to pursue a personal injury claim for compensation after suffering a major trauma. It may also be possible to secure interim payments to alleviate financial hardship.
You and your family are also likely to need advice on a wide range of legal issues that may arise in the aftermath of a major trauma because of the impact it has on home and work life, family life, day to day activities and independence. You may need advice on employment issues, housing, welfare benefits, wills and probate or family issues. We can offer practical advice and help with financial matters and address concerns if you cannot work or have any financial concerns by way of obtaining interim payments. If you would like our help with making a personal injury claim or legal advice please get in touch.
Contact Major Trauma Group’s specialist solicitors via: