In the UK, you are entitled to pursue work accident claims if you have sustained an injury or illness due to an employer’s failure in their duty of care. There are many different types of injury or illness that will allow you to qualify to claim for compensation, and many ways in which an employer can breach their duty of care — although this is not usually intentional.
This article aims to provide a general overview of pursuing work injury compensation in the UK and provide information that claimants should be aware of before pursuing a claim for an accident at work for an injury or illness acquired due to hazards in their workplace and for which they were not entirely to at fault.
Claim for a Work Injury
An estimated 1.8 million people in the UK were suffering from an illness or injury that was caused or made worse by their current or past employment, according to recent figures from the Health and Safety Executive. 173 workers were killed at work in 2011/12 according to the statistics, and another 2,374 deaths were caused by asbestos-related illnesses which began in the workplace. In all, more than 110,000 workplace illnesses were reported to the HSE during the year, the body said.
Slips, trips and falls, manual handling accidents and falls from height were among the most frequent injuries sustained. Psychological injuries such as anxiety, depression and stress led to 27 million workdays being taken off, and the number of carpel tunnel and dermatitis injuries reported also rose — possibly due to stricter health and safety regulations being introduced in offices.
Reporting an Accident at Work
Before submitting any report of a work injury in the UK, your first consideration must be your health and wellbeing. Even when you feel as if an injury or illness is relatively minor, you should always consult a doctor. In order to pursue work accident claims, there must be evidence of negligence. When you doctor treats you for your work injury, he will provide you with a medical record which will support a claim for a work injury by confirming that you have sustained an injury which was caused by your work.
After you have sought medical treatment, you should make a report of your accident in your employer´s “Accident Report Book”. This entry serves as a written account of how your injury or illness was sustained and may be referred to during your claim for work injury compensation. You should ensure that you retain a report of what you have written. If your injury means that you have to miss work for longer than seven days, your employer is obligated to report your injury to the Health and Safety Executive, which may subsequently conduct an investigation into the accident. The report may be used by you in support of your claim for a work injury.
Eligibility to Pursue Work Injury Compensation
In all personal injury claims there must be a party who is at fault for causing your injury — in work accident claims this is normally your employer. Although many employers are genuinely upset when a member of their staff sustains an illness or injury due to a failure in their duty of care, they have a responsibility to provide a safe environment in which to work. When they are in breach of their duty of care, and you are injured or contract an illness as a result, you are entitled to make a claim for an accident at work.
There are many areas in which an employer can be negligent in their obligation to protect an employee’s health and safety. However, in areas such as training, risk assessment, and the provision of well-maintained and suitable equipment to work with, there can be no shortcuts. Even if the employer´s representative or another work colleague was directly responsible for the work injury occurring you may be able to pursue a claim for work injury compensation.
Pursuing Work Injury Compensation against Your Employer
When pursuing a claim for an accident at work from your employer, some people are conscious of how pursuing work accident claims may affect their future working relationships or prospects at work. The law is very strict on the subject in that there should be no ramifications for an employee who rightfully makes a claim for a work injury against an employer and, as we mentioned above, most employers are genuinely upset when one of their employees falls ill or is injured because of something which happened at work.
Furthermore, work accident claims settlements are paid by the employer´s insurer, often without the need to pursue your claim for a work injury in court. This means that there is very little chance that you will ever be in the situation where you have to face your employer in a courtroom in order to be awarded work injury compensation. It is completely understandable that some people may be apprehensive about pursuing compensation for an accident at work if they believe that it may affect their day-to-day working lives. If you have any worries in this respect you should discuss your concerns with a personal injury claims solicitor.
How Much Compensation May I Be Awarded for a Claim for an Accident at Work?
No two work accident claims are identical, even when the injuries sustained are the same. This is because four main factors are taken into account when a personal injury claims solicitor prepares a work injury compensation claim and, on an individual basis, the results can vary enormously. The factors which are taken into account by a personal injury claims solicitor are:-
Pain and Suffering Compensation
A personal injury claims solicitor will assign a financial value to your injury or illness based on its extent and severity. That figure will be then augmented to take into account your age, gender and state of health prior to sustaining your injury or illness — so a young healthy female who sustains a facial scar would receive more than an older male who has smoked for fifty years.
Emotional Injury Compensation
Not every work injury compensation claim includes remuneration for emotional trauma, whereas some are solely based on it. Workplace bullying and harassment can prompt work accident claims for emotional trauma, as can those where an employee has become ill because he has been placed under a great deal of stress. Any compensation for emotional trauma as part of a claim for a work injury has to be quantified by a psychologist before a personal injury claims solicitor will include this factor in a work injury compensation claim.
Loss of Amenity Compensation
You may also be compensated when pursing work accident claims for any deterioration in your quality of life. This can apply to active people who are unable to participate in sports or hobbies or to parents who are no longer able to care for their children. A victim´s personal circumstance should always be taken into account by a personal injury claims solicitor regardless of whether the loss of amenity is temporary or permanent.
Special Damages in Work Injury Compensation
Special damages as part of work accident claims enable the victim of a work injury to recover the financial costs of their injury so that their financial position is no different than if the injury or illness had never happened. Special damages for a work injury are most usually associated with the costs associated with seeking medical treatment and replacing any lost earnings, but can also include alternative travel costs if you are unable to drive and, in the event of catastrophic work injuries, the special needs and home restructuring.
There may be other variables of your claim for a work injury which increase or decrease how much compensation you will be entitled to receive and your solicitor will speak with you about these when you discuss your claim for an accident at work with them.
Insurance Companies and an Injury at Work
Once your solicitor has provided you with a full assessment of your entitlement to work injury compensation, you will be fully prepared in the event that you are approached directly by your employer´s insurance company with an unsolicited offer of work injury compensation. The insurance company will have been alerted to the possibility of a claim occurring by your employer after you made the report in the employer´s “Accident Report Book” — usually because it is a condition of providing cover for them.
Insurance companies regularly participate in a practice known as “third party capture”, where they offer a victim an amount of compensation— which is often much lower than the victim may be entitled to receive — in return for an quick and final settlement. Using the argument that an immediate settlement would save costs and thereby make more money available for your claim for an accident at work, the insurance company will apply pressure on you to accept an offer which may be entirely inappropriate. It is unlikely that the insurance company has properly evaluated your claim for an accident at work.
No Win, No Fee Work Accident Claims
Inasmuch as knowing how much work injury compensation you are entitled to is important before you inadvertently accept an inappropriate offer from your employer´s insurer, there are other reasons why you should not hesitate in speaking with a solicitor after you have sustained an illness or been injured in an accident at work for which you were not entirely at fault.
The main issue is gathering evidence of negligence and collecting the statements of colleagues who witnessed the accident or who shared the same unhealthy work environment as you. As evidence and memories tend to disappear with time, it is in your best interests to speak with a personal injury claims solicitor as soon as you have sought medical attention for your injuries.