If you’ve suffered an accident at work and you can show that your employer was at fault, you may be able to claim compensation for your injuries.
There are lots of things that can determine whether or not you have a claim, so we’ll speak to you to discuss what happened, how bad your injury is, how long ago it happened, and how your life has been affected since. If we think we can help, we’ll take on your case on a ‘No Win, No Fee’ agreement, and we’ll handle the rest. We may need to speak to you to confirm details or to get your permission to access medical files, but all of these things will be discussed with you beforehand. At this point, we’ll do all the hard work, checking in with you occasionally to let you know how your claim is progressing.
What is classed as a ‘work accident’?
Because there are so many kinds of accidents that happen at work, it’s difficult to list them all. They can occur in a multitude of different ways and can have varying consequences. We’ve helped clients who have had short-term injuries after falling over equipment in the workplace, all the way through to workers who have fallen from scaffolding and employees who have been exposed to dangerous chemicals and substances. The health and safety executive (hse) defines an ‘accident’ as:
“A separate, identifiable, unintended incident, which causes physical injury. This specifically includes acts of non-consensual violence to people at work.
Injuries themselves, e.g. ‘feeling a sharp twinge’, are not accidents. There must be an identifiable external event that causes the injury, e.g. a falling object striking someone.”
Some types of work accidents include:
- Falls from height: these can happen in all sorts of ways, but often it will involve falling from scaffolding or ladders. Rope access workers are also at risk.
- Injuries caused by damaged or defective machinery: dangerous machinery requires special training and sometimes equipment to operate safely, but even then, machines can become unpredictable and dangerous if they’re damaged or are not serviced correctly. Dangerous machinery can lead to serious injuries and in some cases, fatal accidents.
- Slips, trips and falls: these are commonly caused by loose cabling, debris and wet floors that haven’t been signposted. In some cases, damaged step ladders and equipment can be the cause on some jobs.
- Accidents outside of work hours: if you’re on the work premises but are injured before or after your normal working hours, you may still be eligible to claim.
- Manual handling injuries: these can be caused by lifting heavy items and not being provided with adequate materials or training. These can often involve back injuries and long-term strains and nerve damage.
- Electrical and chemical accidents: in construction and industrial settings, electric shocks, electrocution and exposure to hazardous substances and chemicals is a common risk. There are times though where workers are injured by things like faulty wiring, damaged equipment, and harmful substances when they shouldn’t be. In these cases, compensation might be an option.
- Amputation: in more severe accidents involving deep cuts, lacerations or crushing injuries, an amputation may be necessary. This will have a huge impact on your life and your recovery will take a long time requiring a lot of support.
- Fatalities caused by work-related injuries: in rare cases, an accident at work can be fatal to some victims. More common occurrences include explosions, fires and electrocution, but falls from height, vehicle crashes and falling materials can all have the same outcome.
- Vehicle collisions: trucks, lorries, forklift trucks and plant are all commonplace on construction sites, in warehouses and in industrial settings. Collisions and crashes are not uncommon, often leading to injury.
- Construction and building site incidents: there are many dangers on-site and the kinds of danger faced will depend on the project. Many of the accidents and injuries above are possible, but there are so many other types that it’s difficult to list them all.
How do I make a claim for an accident at work?
For the majority of people, it begins with a phone call to a law firm to find the right solicitor to support them. If the solicitor on the end of the phone thinks you have a case, and you’re happy with the way they do business, they’ll often send out a conditional fee agreement (CFE) which works on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis. For a small minority, they may wish to make a claim themselves. This avoids having to pay fees to solicitors, but it involves a lot of paperwork and speaking to employers, HMRC, doctor’s, workplace safety experts and other parties to help build a case. If you lack experience in dealing with legal matters like this, you may find it easier to have a solicitor handle all of this for you.
Statistics - Accidents at Work, 2013/14
629,000 injuries occurred at work, of which 148,000 led to over 7days absence. (Labour Force Survey – ONS latest available data, 2013/14)
77,593 other non-fatal injuries reported, of which the most common accidents were caused by:
Slips and trips – 28%
Handling, lifting or carrying - 24%
Being struck by moving objects - 10%
142 workers were killed at work (RIDDOR - Health and Safety Statistics Annual Report, 2013/14)