I Had an Accident in Work Is My Employer Liable? – View Our Online Guide And Get Advice If Your Employer Is Liable

Accident in Work, Is My Employer Liable
Accident in Work, Is My Employer Liable

If you suffered injuries in an accident at work, your employer could be held liable but this would depend on the circumstances that led up to the incident occurring. With this said, all employers in the UK are legally responsible for the health, safety and well-being of employees and other staff whilst they are carrying out jobs they are tasked to do by an employer both onsite and offsite if they work on a building/construction site as an example. Employers are also responsible for their employees health, safety and well-being when they are on training courses arranged by a business/company.

To find out whether your employer is liable for injuries you suffered in an accident at work, please click on the links below:

The Laws That Protect You in the Workplace

The Health and Safety at Work Act was introduced in 1974 to protect all employees and other staff in the workplace. The legislation stipulates that employers in the UK must ensure that a work environment is hazard-free and as safe as feasibly possible for workers to carry out their jobs with the minimum risk of being injured. Other laws that protect you and your fellow workers in the workplace include the following:

It is worth noting that even if you contributed to the injuries you sustained in an accident at work, your employer may be deemed partly responsible for the accident occurring which is referred to as “contributory negligence”. If you are unsure, you should contact a personal injury solicitor who could determine who would be held responsible and whether you and your employer contributed to the workplace injuries you sustained while carrying out your job.

Reporting Injuries Sustained in an Accident at Work

Injuries and accidents that occur in the workplace should always be recorded whether in an Accident Book or by some other official means. This could be in a personal email or registered letter sent to an employer or person in charge. It is important to keep a copy of any accident report that you send to an employer for your own records so that when you file a personal injury claim, you can provide it as evidence that the injuries you sustained were in an accident at work.

If you are too sick or the extent of your injuries make it impossible for you to report an accident at work yourself, you should ask a fellow worker or someone you trust to do this for you. When you are able, you should check that the information in the accident report that details the injuries you sustained is correct and if you find that it is not, you have the right to make corrections before adding your signature to it.

Seeking Medical Attention After an Accident at Work

It is very important to seek medical attention if you are injured in the workplace. If there are first-aiders, any initial help can be administered by them if your injuries are not too severe. However, you must seek treatment from a qualified doctor at the earliest opportunity, even if you think the injuries you sustained at work are only minor. You may have internal injuries or a slight injury can become something more serious a little later on.

The other thing about seeking medical attention from a qualified doctor, is that the medical report they provide would be an essential part of the evidence required when filing a personal injury claim.

If your injuries are such that you qualify for industrial injuries benefits, the medical report would be key to claiming them from your employer. The report would be used to calculate the amount of “general damages” you could be awarded in a successful claim against a negligent employer.

What Are My Responsibilities as an Employee in the Workplace?

Just as an employer has a legal duty to keep you and your fellow workers safe from harm in the workplace, as an employee you also have a duty to make sure you carry out any work that you do as safely as possible by abiding by the procedures and practices that an employer has set in place. If you sustain an injury in an accident at work because you ignored or disregarded health and safety regulations, a tribunal may find that you cannot hold your employer liable. Other incidents where an employer may not be held liable for injuries employees sustain at work could include the following:

  • When an accident at work happens because of substance abuse
  • When injuries sustained at work can be put down to alcohol abuse causing impaired judgement
  • Should an accident at work occur to reckless behaviour which puts an employee and fellow workers in harm’s way
  • A disregard of health and safety regulation as well as safe working practices

What Are My Employer’s Responsibilities in the Workplace?

Your employer has a “duty of care” towards you and your fellow workers no matter what type of work you do for them. This applies to both permanent and temporary employees as well as contractors and agency workers who are under the “control” of an employer.

All employers in the UK must by law ensure that a work environment is safe by implementing all reasonable measures to achieve this goal. This would include the following:

  • To ensure that adequate and ongoing training is provided to all employees
  • That industry-standard personal protective equipment is available to all employees
  • That regular inspections are conducted in a workplace
  • To maintain all equipment, machinery and tools in good working order
  • To erect hazard signs where necessary in a work environment
  • To carry out risk assessments to identify hazards in the workplace
  • To ensure that all employees are made aware of any hazards that may be present in a work environment
  • To ensure that a work environment is kept clean and free from obstacles

Should your employer have not implemented enough safety measures and you are injured in an accident at work, they could be deemed liable. As such, you would have every right to seek compensation by filing a personal injury claim against your employer.

What are the Main Causes of Accidents at Work?

You can be injured in many ways whilst at work, but one of the main causes of workplace injuries involve forklift trucks. Because of this, employers must ensure that employees who operate forklift trucks obtain the relevant certificates and that work areas where forklifts trucks operate have hazard signs erected in prominent places.

If an employer asks you to operate a forklift truck even though you are not qualified to do so and you cause an accident in which you suffered an injury or a fellow worker is injured, the liability would fall to your employer.

With this said, if you operate a forklift truck and are qualified or not to do so but you drive it carelessly which results in you or a work colleague suffering an injury, you may find that both you and your employer could be deemed responsible which as previously mentioned would be termed as “contributory negligence”.

What are My Rights at Work as an Employee?

You have specific rights if you suffer injuries in an accident at work and your employer is duty bound to respect them. You have the right to do the following:

  • To seek medical attention if you suffer injuries in the workplace
  • To seek compensation for injuries sustained through no fault of your own. Even if you believe you may be partly responsible, you still have the right to file a personal injury claim against your employer citing “contributory negligence”
  • You have the right to leave a work environment you deem is dangerous and which puts your health, safety and well-being at risk and not to return until it is safe for you to do so

An employer cannot prevent or object to you doing any of the above and if they do, they would be acting unlawfully which would entitle you to take further legal action out against them.

Was the Accident at Work Reportable to RIDDOR?

There are certain workplace injuries, illnesses and accidents as well as “near misses” that must legally be reported to RIDDOR. It is your employer’s or the person in charge, responsibility to do so but you have the right to check whether a report has been sent to RIDDOR. If the incident occurred in Northern Ireland, the report must be sent to HSE NI.

Your employer is legally obliged to keep records of the following:

  • Reportable injuries
  • Injuries that result in employees being off work for more than 7 days
  • Work-related disease
  • Dangerous occurrences (near misses)

When it comes to accidents in the workplace, employers who are obliged under the Social Security Law to keep an Accident Book may record incidents in it but must operate a separate way of recording work-related diseases.

Any information that your employer sends to the Health and Safety Executive in a RIDDOR report would not be sent on to a liability insurance provider. It is up to your employer to inform their insurers that a workplace accident has occurred and they must do so in a timely fashion.

How Can I Prove Employer Liability for an Accident at Work?

To prove that your employer could be held liable for injuries you sustained in an accident at work, there are several things they may have failed to do which are detailed below:

  • That you were not given adequate training to carry out a job
  • That you did not receive sufficient training to operate machinery, equipment or tools
  • That your employer failed to maintain machinery, equipment and tools in good working order
  • That your employer failed to provide industry-standard personal protective equipment or that it was defective
  • That your employer failed to check whether a new employee was sufficiently qualified to carry out a job
  • That your employer failed to carry out risk assessments in a work environment
  • That hazard signs were not erected in areas of a work environment deemed dangerous
  • That correct training for handling hazardous substances was not provided
  • That a work environment was not kept clean and free of obstacles
  • That the injuries you sustained could have been avoided if the correct safety measures had been set in place

These are just some of the reasons why your employer could be held liable for injuries you suffered in a workplace accident. If you are unsure as to whether your employer is responsible, you should contact a personal injury lawyer who would quickly establish who could be deemed liable for the injuries you sustained.

What Does Employer’s Duty of Care Mean?

As previously mentioned, all employers in the UK have a “duty of care” towards you as an employee. This means that your employer must set in place all “reasonable” measures to protect the health and safety as well as the well-being of all employees whether permanent, temporary or other workers who are under their “control”. An employer is  legally bound to ensure your physical safety when you are at work as well as your mental well-being and although this is a legal requirement, it must also be seen as a moral and ethical duty too.

An employer’s duty of care towards you and your fellow workers includes ensuring the following:

  • That jobs are clearly defined
  • That risk assessments are conducted
  • That a work environment is safe
  • That adequate feedback on performance is provided
  • That employees and other staff are not working excessively long hours
  • That adequate rest areas are provided
  • That employees and other staff are protected from harassment or bullying either by fellow workers or other people
  • That all employees and other staff are protected from discrimination in the workplace
  • That employees are able to raise concerns about a work environment
  • That employees can easily consult employers about things they find concerning

Should your employer ignore or disregard their duty of care towards you and you suffer injuries in an accident at work, they could be held in breach of their “duty” and as such, you would have the right to seek compensation by filing a personal injury claim against them without fearing disciplinary action.

What Right Do I Have to Sue My Employer After an Accident at Work?

You have the “right” to seek compensation for injuries sustained in a workplace accident providing the incident was caused either through employer negligence or because a fellow worker made a mistake which resulted in you being injured. Other criteria that must be met when suing an employer are detailed below:

  • That the incident occurred in the last 3 years and it happened in the workplace whether onsite or offsite – an example being that you were working on a construction or building site at the time you were injured

As previously touched upon, you may have been partly responsible for the workplace accident occurring but you could still qualify to claim compensation because your employer too could be held partly “liable” for the injuries you suffered which is known as “contributory negligence”. If it is deemed that you could be 25% responsible, the personal injury compensation you would receive would be 75% rather than the 100% you would be awarded if a court rules that your employer is liable.

Who Settles The Accident at Work Compensation I Receive?

The law requires that employers in the UK have liability insurance which is compulsory. As such, when you file an accident at work claim against your employer for injuries you sustained whilst in their employment, it is up to the insurance provider to deal with all aspects of the case. This includes carrying out an investigation into the accident that left you injured. It is the insurer that pays the amount you receive in compensation should you win your claim against an employer.

Insurance providers tend to offer lower initial settlements and it is important not to accept anything without first discussing the amount with a personal injury lawyer. A solicitor has vast experience when it comes to negotiating better settlements for employees who have been injured in accidents at work. In short, there would be a very good chance that your employer’s insurance provider would agree to pay you a higher level or accident at work compensation than they initially offered you.

Could I Lose My Job If I File for Compensation After an Accident at Work?

Should you be injured in an accident at work and you choose to seek compensation from your employer by filing a personal injury claim against them, you cannot be lawfully fired for doing so. The reason being that should an employer attempt to sack you or to threaten you with redundancy, they would be acting unlawfully. An employer must respect your “rights” and if they do not, you should seek legal advice from an employment lawyer before doing anything else.

However, if your employer creates a very bad work environment for you which as a result sees you offer your resignation, you should still consult a solicitor because having been made to resign from your job as a result of your employer’s actions, could add weight to an unfair dismissal or a constructive dismissal claim against your employer.

What Compensation Could I Get if I Am Injured Due to Employer Negligence?

The money you may receive in compensation for injuries sustained at work would depend on several things which includes the following:

  • The extent of your injuries and how they impact your life both working and social – you would receive “general damages” for the injuries you sustained which are based on the Judicial College Guidelines
  • The amount of money you were forced to pay out as a direct result of the injuries sustained in an accident at work – you would be awarded “special damages” which would over all your out of pocket expenses that are linked to the workplace injuries you sustained. This would include your travel and medical expenses as well as all other injury related expenses you incurred

Is There a Deadline to Filing an Accident at Work Claim Against an Employer?

The deadline for making an accident at work claim against your employer if they can be held liable for the injuries you sustained, is set at 3 years from the time you were injured whilst at work. The time limit would begin at different times depending on when the workplace accident happened which is detailed below:

  • Three years from when you were injured at work
  • Three years from when a medical professional links a health issue that you developed to the workplace injury you sustained
  • Three years from the day you turn 18 years of age if you suffered injuries before this date which means you must file a claim against an employer before you turn twenty-one

How Do I File an Accident at Work Claim Against an Employer?

Work-related personal injury claims can be complex and proving liability although often easily established, can also prove challenging more especially if an employer on the recommendation of their liability insurers, denies responsibility. Should this be the case, it is wiser to seek legal advice from an accident at work lawyer as soon as possible so that liability can be determined without too much delay.

There is a lot of evidence to gather which includes the following should you wish to file an accident at work claim against your employer:

  • The official report of the accident at work that left your injured
  • The medical report of the injuries you sustained
  • Witness statements
  • Witness contact details
  • Photos of where the workplace accident occurred
  • CCTV footage should this be available of the accident at work that left you suffering from injuries
  • Photos showing the extent of your injuries
  • A report showing that you followed a workplace “grievance” procedure prior to filing a personal injury claim against an employer

The more proof you can provide, the stronger your claim against an employer would be and the easier it could be to prove employer liability.

Would an Accident at Work Solicitor Agree to a No Win No Fee Contract?

A solicitor would want to assess your claim and establish employer liability which they would typically do in an initial consultation which is free of charge. Once they determine that a claim against an employer is strong and that your employer could be deemed responsible for the injuries you sustained, they could agree to work on your case without requesting an upfront fee by asking you to sign a No Win No Fee contract with them.

Informative Links

If you suffered injuries in an accident at work and would like to know more about your rights, please follow the link below:

Your rights in the workplace

If you would like to know more about an employer’s responsibilities in the UK, please click on the link below:

Employer’s legal responsibilities in the workplace

If you would like more information on Accident Books, please click on the link below:

More about Accident Report Books in the workplace