Can I be sacked for having an accident at work and making a claim?

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Many people worry about their job security after being injured at work or how it will affect relations with their employer, especially if they want to seek compensation. The common concern is that claiming against your employer might result in you being sacked. Or, if not sacked, then cold-shouldered, harassed and effectively forced to resign.

First things first: in most cases, fears like this are totally unfounded. You can’t be fired for an accident that wasn’t your fault, or for making a legitimate compensation claim against your employer for your injuries, and such a claim is unlikely to cause you issues at work.

In short, you should think of a compensation claim as a fair legal process rather than something which could antagonise your employer. We deal with countless cases that are resolved without any ill feeling.

Now let’s cover the situation in more detail.

Table of contents

How your employer should handle accidents at work

By law, UK employers have a duty of care to their staff if they are injured at work. All employers should have a published policy known of by key staff members and put in to place whenever the worst happens.

Good employers will deal with accidents in a professional and effective manner. They will record details of an accident in their accident book, report it to the HSE via RIDDOR if required, and not stand in their employees way should they need to make a claim for compensation. Bad employers will be less helpful, they may try to prevent access to the accident book and be obstructive towards staff who are injured, perhaps even threatening them with the sack.

Most employers will act with integrity in the case of an accident, but some may try to pressure you into signing a form that effectively asks you to accept liability for the incident. Try to avoid doing this (although depending on the situation, a tribunal or court may choose to disregard it in any case).

The government has a number of health and safety guidelines that must be followed and it is an employer’s legal obligation to ensure that these guidelines are implemented. If they haven’t been, then your employer is negligent and you have the right to claim compensation.

I’m worried I’ll be sacked if I make a claim. What are my rights?

Your rights are simple. Your employer is not allowed to fire you for proceeding with a legitimate claim. Remember, all employers are required by law to have insurance in place. Employees sometimes hold back from making a valid claim after an accident, wrongly thinking they’ll be leaving their employers out of pocket. But if you do make a successful claim, any compensation will be paid by the insurance company, rather than your employer.

Apart from keeping your job, you also have other rights if you’ve been injured in a work accident, such as being placed on light duties until you recover. Be aware that there’s a three-year limit associated with workplace-related personal injury claims. These claims can sometimes be time-consuming, so our advice would be to get the ball rolling early. The three years begin from the time of the accident.

One other important point. If you do find yourself in a situation where you’ve been sacked following a legitimate claim – which is thankfully rare – you would then have a further case to claim for unfair dismissal. Employees can only be sacked after an accident for their own gross misconduct, or for being drunk or intoxicated at the time of the incident.

What happens if my claim causes bad relations with my employer?

If you work for a large company with an HR department, the firm may not even be aware that a claim’s taking place. Only if you work for a smaller firm, with no HR personnel, might you be unlucky enough to receive negative treatment – and even then, this would be rare.

The majority of reputable employers will view a valid claim in a rational way, rather than seeing it as personal. The truth is, however, that a minority of small businesses do occasionally take claims badly, and may even retaliate by making things more difficult for their employee. If relations between you and your employer do start to sour, to the point where you’re being harassed and unfairly treated, you may feel you have no option but to resign. In this instance, you could have a case for constructive dismissal.

Our partner firm has a leading employment law team who can give advice on your rights, and on what your employer can and cannot do. If, as a result of making a claim, your employer’s behaviour changes and your working environment becomes toxic, it’s important to seek advice immediately.

For constructive dismissal claims, you need to make a claim within three months of resigning.

How to win your claim and keep your job

To help your work accident claim, there are certain steps you are within your rights to take in order to prove what happened.

Firstly, report the incident to your employer as soon as possible. Try to ensure there’s a written record of the accident, ideally in the accident book, or you can put it in writing to your employer by other means. Never sign a report that is inaccurate – especially if you haven’t had a chance to read it or contribute to it.

Try to take photos of your injuries, and the place where the accident occurred. If you’ve been asked to work in an unsafe location, for example, you’ll need to prove this. Should you be too badly injured to take photos yourself, and it’s feasible to ask someone else to do this, always do so.

That said, it’s worth pointing out that if taking photos proves impossible, there’s no need to panic. It certainly doesn’t mean your claim will fail.

Another important piece of advice is to seek medical attention for your injuries. If you’ve been badly hurt this goes without saying, but if your injuries are genuine yet more subtle – or likely to worsen over time – then medical advice won’t just help you in the short-term, it will also give you further evidence to submit, in the event of a claim.

If negligence can be shown, and if you’ve suffered loss of earnings, been negatively impacted or been unable to work as a result of your injury, then there’s a strong chance your claim will be successful. The amount that’s due to you will depend on various factors, including the nature of the accident, the severity of the injury and the length of time you’ve been affected.

It goes without saying, of course, that you need to be honest throughout the process. If any part of a claim is dishonest or misleading, it could lead to the claimant’s employment being terminated. The risk of criminal prosecution could also come into play.

Any other questions? Feel free to get in touch for a no-obligation consultation.

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Comments & Questions

Read on for questions and advice about claiming...

My son was assaulted at work by a customer and has facial injuries from hitting a machine in the workplace. He has only been there a few days and has been sacked by the company through no fault of his own. Is this legal?

Ian Morris

Sadly, there is very little that can be done in employment terms as your Son was so new to the workplace. As such, an employer can easily terminate the employment of someone without having to provide any real justification.

Your Son however has rights to pursue a claim for personal injury. Whether the claim would be against the former employer is uncertain as the injuries would appear to be a criminal matter. That said, our Solicitors can assist with either a claim against the employer or through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) scheme for the victims of criminal injuries. It would be a very sensible move for your Son (if he hasn’t done so already) to report the incident to the Police and obtain a crime reference number.

If you/your Son would like to further discuss a potential No Win No Fee claim, please call us on 01225430285 or you can request a call from us via our website.


I got injured at work and my heel was left swollen, sore and bruised. I was limping for days. I have now been fired from my job for it and I feel cheated.

Ian Morris

How did you sustain your injury? We may well be able to help you to pursue a claim for personal injury compensation against your former employer, but need to know more about the accident that led to your injury in order to advise you further.


Can you be sacked for being of sick with a back injury that was my fault? I’ve got a sick note back injury.

Ian Morris

You can’t be dismissed for simply being away from work with an injury or illness. However, if your absence record is of concern to your employer, they may wish to take you through a disciplinary process regarding the matter. The employer MUST follow due process and would only be able to dismiss you if you had previously been taken through the process and issued a formal warning etc.


I fell down a hole at work, which will result in knee surgery, either a knee reconstruction or a knee replacement.
My employer says that they are not responsible as it happened at another employers property, however I was sent there by my employer. I am concerned as surgery will take 12 months to perform, I am unable to do my usual job and I am now working from home in another role however this may end and result in me being made redundant or dismissed. Can you please advise me?

Ian Morris

The liability in this incident will, if a claim is able to proceed successfully, rest with the landowner/occupier of the site where the accident happened. Although you were on duty for your employer, the 3rd party company have a responsibility to ensure safety on their premises.


I worked for a parcel despatch company as forklift driver, I was given the additional duties of loading industrial paint tins 20 – 25 litres and various boxes containing various liquid and chemicals of size and weight into cages for distribution labels on boxes have been known say 20-25kg.

But has been known on many occasions be heavier as had weighed box. I’d noticed started having issues with back and legs, was reluctant to get seen by my gp, things started to get that bad I tried the usual couple weeks off see if it helped.

Then finally consultation over phone with gp result in medication for couple months to see if eased, was given my contract by the employer and given more duties which seemed to put more and more pressure on me to rush get orders ready.

Then things was getting worse, finally went be examined by GP who diagnosed sciatica and mobility was getting that bad after couple of weeks I had be signed off by a note which in the end result in me waiting for MRI Scan. In this time received phone call from the boss himself enquire when I was to return to work. I’d informed him was waiting for MRI Scan at the Royal hospital Liverpool as could not give a time or date until I had the results if surgery or physio was needed.

He then informed me there and then on phone I was being issued my weeks notice of termination in the November. I wasn’t sure they could terminate me as was still covered by my note.

I didn’t really want to go down this route but seems to me that the employer wasn’t really bothered about my welfare especially after injury and surgery they only bothered about if job done or not.

Ian Morris

You appear to have a valid claim for compensation on the grounds of employer negligence with regards to their handling of health and safety in the workplace, particularly in terms of manual handling safe lifting of stock.


Hi, I work in a warehouse and last week my foot slipped on some loose sand an earlier shift failed to clean off the floor properly, i was wearing the correct PPE and my foot only slipped a few inches but my knee has been swollen for several days now and been getting some pains. I reported it the next day at work and it’s all logged in the accident book with a witness statement. I feel like I would be entitled to make a claim but other people have told me not too as my place of work could try and find ways to force me out, if so would this be a case of unfair dismissal?

Ian Morris

Your employer cannot legally dismiss you, discipline you, discriminate against you or reduce your rights at work if you opt to pursue a legitimate claim for personal injury compensation after an accident at work.

The majority of people injured in an accident at work are anxious about the prospect of making a claim for compensation against an employer. With this in mind, it is important that you realise that should you make a claim, the claim would be made against your employers obligatory employer liability insurance and would not directly impact on your employer or affect any of your colleagues. Further, I am of the view that you can attribute your knee injury to the negligence of the employer. As the sand had been on the floor from the previous shift, there had been ample time for the risk of injury as a result of the sand to have been identified and for the sand to have been cleared up. As the hazard was not spotted, removed or marked with any barrier or warning sign, you have every right to claim compensation.


My husband had an accident at work in 2018 and claimed compensation which resulted in a pay-out. However 3 years down the line my husband is still suffering with his back injury due to the type of job he is doing. His employer is forcing him to change department that will make the situation worse and is refusing to help him. What are his rights and what should his employers be doing? Could they be forced to sack him?

Ian Morris

If an employee is no longer fit to perform the duties that they were recruited to perform, an employer is within their rights to redeploy the employee to a new position, or if no such suitable alternative is available, to terminate their position.


Will claiming put my job in danger?

Ian Morris

Legally, an employer cannot discriminate against any employee who makes a legitimate and honest claim for personal injury compensation. You cannot be dismissed, have your hours reduced or lose any bonuses for pursuing a claim.


Hello, 2 weeks ago to this day I fractured my patella in my knee. I worked on Friday 9-5, but was told by the Consultant, I wouldn’t be able to work until they had performed an MRI scan on my leg as the x-ray showed it was fractured.
The first Friday my employer was OK, however Friday 23rd I was sacked from my job due to her needing someone employed as soon as possible. As it is only a shop and one person is running it at a time I don’t see it necessary to be sacked.

Ian Morris

We are interested in the cause of your knee injury. How did that happen? We may well be able to help you to make a claim for compensation for both the injury and any associated loss of income caused by the injury.


What if my accident at work was no ones fault, but I can’t continue to do my job. Can I be dismissed or made redundant?

Ian Morris

Please provide further information about the accident. You say that it was not any particular persons fault, but it could be that you would be able to make a claim for compensation. With more information, we can advise you on that.

In terms of being dismissed or made redundant, if a worker is left unfit to return to the role that they were employed to do and there is no suitable alternative position, an employer can terminate the position on the grounds of ill health. However, due process must be followed and you should seek separate specialist employment law advice on that should that situation arise.


I have just started a new job and 4 days into it I had an accident I ended up with bruising and a swollen back I worked through it until I could hardly even walk let alone work. I have taken 3 days off sick plus’s to days that I would normally get can they sack me for this as I am on probation and I’m really worried.

Ian Morris

An employer is within their rights to terminate an employees position whilst they are on a probationary period – usually if their performance is poor or if they take extended or repeated periods of absence. However, in your case your time away from work can be justified by the employer as you were injured whilst on duty for them. It is unlikely that you would be dismissed, but they may wish to extend your probationary period.

In terms of the injury you had, how did it happen? It could well be the case that you could pursue a claim for compensation against the employer.


My son was cleaning a machine last Thursday when the rag he was using was pulled into a motor fan cutting his finger requiring 7 stitches.

He turned the medical excuse in the same day stating he could return to work on Monday. He did return on Monday and was terminated.

Ian Morris

Your Son may wish to seek some specialist employment law advice, but the fact that his employment was terminated is not relevant to whether or not he has a right to make a claim for personal injury compensation for the laceration injury he sustained at work.

Your Son may wish to speak with us regarding the accident at work as we may well be able to pursue a claim for compensation against his employers for the injury sustained, the pain and discomfort caused and associated costs or losses.


I have an injury claim with my previous employer (he sacked me due to my injury) 2 1/2 years have now passed and my solicitor has dropped my case. I had 4 case handlers, very little contact with any, now a senior handler has dropped my case. I was told it was a very good case and due the the size of the claim a full partner would be taking over st some point. Now I’ve got 2 months left to get a new solicitor to take on my case, I’m not confident in that. I’m left disabled and unable to find employment.

Ian Morris

The fact that you now only have 2 months remaining has put you in a very difficult position as such a short period of time remaining in a claim does make it hard for a Solicitor to take on a case. Although many (indeed most Solicitors) are against taking on a case at this late stage and the majority of our specialist Solicitors also take that view, you should not simply give up and allow the 3 years to pass without trying. There are firms and Solicitors out there who may be able to help you and we do have one specialist partner firm who are not against taking on claims with just a short period of the 3 years remaining.

You should certainly be making a formal complaint to the Solicitor firm in question (via their complaints procedure) and if they do not resolve the matter, you could then escalate it to the regulatory authorities and perhaps the ombudsman.


I had have been asking for suitable footwear since 2018, they are very slippery and not much slip protection, i have now had an accident where I’m now on long term sick. With an head injury.

Will I be sacked if I am still on sick after 28 weeks? My 28 weeks are up next week.

Ian Morris

Have you pursued a claim against your employer for the head injury? If not, you should contact us to start the process.

As to whether or not they will let you go at the end of the 28 weeks, it is unlikely that they would do so immediately, but of course, if you remain unfit to return to work long term, your employer will eventually be within their rights to terminate your employment on ill health grounds.


My partner has worked for 27 years in a warehouse, some flatpack he moved was stacked incorrectly and fell on his foot and he had injury to his ankle. Took photos of flat pack and injury, had 3 weeks off work with sick notes went back to work for 2 shifts and then got suspended for investigation.

Cctv used clearly showing flatpack falling, he now has disciplinary next week they saying his fault it fell and clearly stating they think it was planned with him taking photos. His manual handling training is saying April 2020 and it was April 2019, statements have been put in from his friend who witnessed which is on cctv but cos his friend was on his phone and his head bent down on cctv they saying he couldn’t have seen the accident when he was facing my partner and only shows tops of heads on cctv. One of the managers has put he thinks my partner has told his friend what to say when it clearly shows on cctv the flatpack falling.

He had phone consultation with doctor and has pictures of his injury, they trying to say he pulled the flatpack incorrectly and it was his fault and disciplinary for gross misconduct. Can they actually sack him when it wasn’t his fault? Can he request cctv that other managers have already seen with him on it? It was reported in accident book after he took photos so they saying cos he took photos first they saying falsifying documentation and breach of health and safety, but the training was a year ago. Has he got a good case if they sack him? Thankyou.

Ian Morris

There are two issues here – one relates to the injury at work (an area we can assist with) and the 2nd relates to employment law and his rights under such legislation. If the employer disciplines or dismisses him, he should seek immediate employment law advice regarding the process and his rights.

In terms of the injury to his ankle, if your Husband didn’t stack the items that fell on to him, he may have a valid right to pursue a claim. We would certainly be happy to assist with a possible claim for compensation.


Hi, I had 2 slips at work in 2 different times, there was no wet floor sign behind the bar where I work. It resulted in a knee dislocation both times, I took around a month off for the first time then I got sacked after 2 weeks off the second time. I never went and got treated for neither but I’m still having symptoms and It’s affecting my work life, can I still claim?.

Ian Morris

If the accidents happened within the past 3 years (ideally within the past 2 & 1/2 years), we can further investigate the potential claims for you.

Were the details of the accidents recorded with the employer in an accident book?


Maybe the first time it happened, but definitely the second time as my mother had to pick me up from work

Ian Morris

This is certainly something we would be happy to investigate and see if we can place your claim with our specialist Solicitors.


Injury and work preventing me from working and while being off sick terminated my contact for failing to turn up to a disciplinary, discomfort injury claim put in and liability admitted.

Ian Morris

If your injury was caused in a non-fault accident, you can make a claim for personal injury compensation. If you haven’t already got a specialist Solicitor acting for you in your claim, we can help you with that and you can call us on 01225430285.

For advice regarding your employers decision to terminate your employment and whether or not they acted legally in doing so, it would be sensible to approach a specialist employment law Solicitor for specialist advice.


Hi, I had an injury at work and hurt my back. I was off with severe sciatica for 5 weeks. This was just before the Lockdown, I went back to work for one day and then we were laid off. I’ve just received a letter to say they are terminating my employment now due to unsatisfactory attendance as they extended my probation over the furlough period. Can I make a claim for an accident at work?

Ian Morris

We can certainly look in to pursuit of a claim for personal injury compensation for you. As your back was injured at work, there is a possibility that the injuries could be attributed to employer negligence and we could therefore pursue a claim for you via our specialist Solicitors on our easy to understand No Win No Fee service.


Hi I hurt my knee at work while at work it got twisted and I been off just started work recently and was told by my employer not to come to work for good can they do that is that legal ?

Ian Morris

An employer can’t simply dismiss you from work for being injured. However, they may be within their rights to terminate your employment if you are within your probationary period or if you have acted in a manner that would be deemed to be of gross misconduct.

We would like to discuss your knee injury with you as you may well have a valid claim for personal injury compensation against your employer for the injury you sustained whilst at work.


I was injured at work had a torn tendon and was given operation on my right arm. I also had a breakdown, I asked my work for counselling as was finding it hard to be at work due to mental health, as a result I was given a termination of employment, have I got a case?

Ian Morris

There are two potential claims that you can look at in this scenario. We can help you with a possible claim for personal injury for the torn tendon injury and the impact that your workplace injury had on you and your usual lifestyle. Our expert staff and specialist Solicitors can assist you with this and work to obtain you compensation for the injury and recover any loss of income or other costs you may have incurred.

You may also have a separate claim under employment law regarding the dismissal from your work. This is a matter you should discuss separately with an employment law Solicitor.

Chat with us for friendly, expert advice 01225 430285