Accidents at Work
In recent times, the average working environment has become a safer place, with major injuries reported in accidents at work down from 27,894 in 2008/09, to a new low of 19,707 in 2012/13. However, these figures still reveal that every week, hundreds of people in the UK are suffering serious personal injuries at work.
All employers have a responsibility to provide as safe a workplace as possible for their employees, and protect them from unreasonable danger. Therefore, if an accident at work is caused due to negligence, the victim has the legal right to pursure compensation for their injuries, on a no win no fee basis. The most common causes of work injuries are handling, lifting and carrying, and slips, trips and falls, but all types of injuries are covered, from physical damage, industrial illnesses, work-related stress, right up to discrimination.
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The laws regarding workplace safety
In the past 30 years, there has been a significant increase in the implementation of Health & Safety laws to protect workers from dangerous practices, forcing companies to provide safe working environments and adequate training.
For example, the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 - which apply to all industries with the exception of mines/quarries, construction, and ships - are made up of several stipulations for employers, including (but not limited to):
- Premises and equipment should be maintained to a satisfactory standard
- Protection from falling objects should be provided
- Satefy measures should be enforced to prevent people falling from height, or falling into tanks or pits
- Floors should not be uneven or damaged, and should be kept free from obstruction or contamination to prevent slips and falls
- Proper ventilation for enclosed spaces
The laws concerning construction work are set out in the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. These regulations cover the same basic safety principles as other health and safety laws, but with the added provision that almost everyone on a construction site (clients, designers, contractors, workers, etc.) is responsible for making sure working practices are safe.
There are also separate regulations covering safety requirments for people who work at height. The Work at Height Regulations 2005 came into effect in April 2005, and place a duty of care on employers, the self-employed and anyone else who oversees other workers. The regulations state that:
- All work at height must be well organised and pre-planned
- Workers must be competent and properly trained
- Any risks must be assessed beforehand and the correct equipment selected for the job
- Equipment must be maintained and inspected to a satisfactory standard
- Any fragile surfaces are risk assessed
Time limits on claiming work injury compensation
As specified in the Limitation Act 1980, there is a 3 year time limit from the date of the accident to make a work injury claim. However, there are exceptions to this rule. The first exception is when the person who is injured is under the age of 18. In this case, the three year time limit is applied from the date of their 18th birthday.
The second exception is when the injury or illness is not immediately apparent. This most commonly applies to illnesses developed as a result of exposure to asbestos, such as asbestosis and mesothelioma, with symptoms often taking decades to manifest. For more information, please visit our industrial illnesses page.
In very rare cases, the judge may decide that an exemption from the time limit is justified, but we always recommend that claims are launched as soon as possible after an accident.
Fast-track claims for accidents at work
The fast-track claims portal - also known as the Road Traffic Accident Personal Injury Scheme - was introduced by the government in 2010. As the name suggests, it initially only applied to road traffic accidents which were valued up to £10,000. However, due to the success of the scheme, its scope was widened in 2013 to include accident at work claims.
The fast-track system covers any work injury claim valued at £25,000 or less, with most cases being settled within six months, reducing costs and helping accident victims obtain compensation faster. It allows information to be exchanged swiftly between opposing parties, meaning relevant decisions regarding the case are made more quickly.
What types of accidents can I claim for?
The type of accidents you can claim for range from simple slips and trips to major injuries caused by industrial machinery, but the one thing they all have in common is that you need to put together a case demonstrating that the physical or mental injuries you've suffered were the result of negligence on the part of your employer.
If your job involves driving and you are injured in a road traffic accident, you could also be entitled to claim compensation if someone else was at fault.
Gathering evidence of negligene following an accident at work
The precise details of all claims vary, but whether it's a patch of oil on the floor, a piece of machinery that doesn't have the right safeguards or a working environment which results in long term illness or injury, it's vital that you gather as much evidence as possible for your work injury solicitor. The evidence to support your claim could take any of the following forms:
- Witness statements
- Previous similar work accidents
- Employer's logs
- Ambulance attendance at the scene
- Doctor's notes
- An accident book
Could I get fired from my job if I make a claim?
People often hesitate to make such a claim, worried that it may result in them losing their job, but it's illegal for any employer to sack an employee for making such a claim. If you do still worry about claiming against your employer then just bear in mind that you'll be working hand in hand with an experienced personal injury lawyer, and that any compensation you receive will be covered by your employer's own insurance - you won't, in other words, be taking money directly from the business or your employer's pocket.
Can I claim for lost wages?
You may be forced to take time off work if you have been injured in a work accident. This could mean losing out on weeks, months, and possibly years of potential earnings. Any compensation payout will cover loss of wages since the accident, and any future loss of earnings if you are unable to return to work due to the impact of your injuries. This money will be paid out on a successful claim as part of "special damages".
Special damages, along with general damages, are combined to make up the compensation awarded for a personal injury. General damages are paid in respect to the actual injury itself, covering pain, suffering and loss of amenity. Special damages specifically cover financial expenses incurred as a result of an injury, such as loss of earnings, medical costs, travel arrangements, and so on.
Starting a claim today with Claims4Free.co.uk
If you feel you may have been injured in an accident at work that was caused by negligence, you can give us a call on 0808 115 0700 and speak to one of our legal advisers. They'll take your details and tell you whether or not you have a legitimate case for a compensation claim. If you do, you'll be put in touch with one of our expert personal injury solicitors who will help you build a detailed case. You will be able to make your claim using the no win no fee system, so you won't have to take a financial risk to claim for work accident compensation.
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