The simple answer here is yes.
People often assume that compensation for work injuries only applies to permanent employees, but this isn’t the case. Countless self-employed workers miss out on what’s due to them by believing they have no legal rights to compensation. But work injuries can happen to anyone – and the law protects the self-employed, too. The key factor is that in order to make a claim, the fault for the accident needs to rest with someone other than yourself.
Table of contents
- Self-employed accidents at work – what can I claim for?
- How do I know if the accident was someone else’s fault?
- So what should I do if I’ve had an accident?
- What about medical evidence?
- What happens if my injury makes it impossible to get back to work?
- What can I claim for after an accident?
- How much compensation could I get?
- Comments – your questions answered
Self-employed accidents at work – what can I claim for?
As with any work accident claim, the strength of your case will depend on the nature of the accident. If you’re a window-cleaner who’s fallen off your ladder on a house-call, for example, there would be little to build a case around.
This changes if you’re a subcontractor working on a site operated by a contractor, or if you’re providing a service on a third party’s business premises. If you can show that the injury you’ve suffered is due to a lapse of health and safety on site – or has been caused by the negligence of other workers – you’ll have a strong claim.
Accidents of this kind, of course, can take any number of forms. It might be a fall from height, a slip or trip caused by a workplace hazard, a vehicle-related collision, or something else entirely.
Similarly, there are countless different types of self-employed workers, from construction workers and consultants to decorators and designers. The self-employed workforce has been growing for some years now.
But no matter what kind of accident you’ve had, or what profession you’re in, you can rest assured that your case will always be dealt with seriously if it’s a solid one.
How do I know if the accident was someone else’s fault?
This sounds like an obvious question, but the answer isn’t always clear-cut.
As a self-employed worker, you’re responsible for your own safety, so any claim will rest on the fact that the action – or inaction – of someone else was responsible for the accident. This can be simple to prove if there’s been a clear health and safety breach, but other incidents aren’t quite so straightforward.
It might be that you weren’t given an effective site induction before you began work, for example, or that you were being asked to do something outside of your expertise or training. The task you were doing may even have been unsafe from the outset, without you being aware.
In all of these examples, it’s often possible to prove that the blame for your accident lies with a third party.
If you’re unsure about your own situation, feel free to pick up the phone and ask – we’ll always offer you the best advice for your individual case.
So what should I do if I’ve had an accident?
As with any compensation claim, after an injury at work it’s important to be able to provide evidence. This means that a written record of the accident should be made as early as possible. If you’re working on the site of a company, UK employers are required by law to have an Accident Report book, which will include sections on where, when and how an accident occurred.
You should try to ensure you log the incident yourself, to give the fullest picture of what happened. Avoid signing an inaccurate Accident Report, particularly if you haven’t had a chance to read it fully.
If you are prevented from seeing or using the accident book there are still things you can do to ensure evidence exists.
It can be extremely helpful to take photos of the place where the accident occurred, including any hazards or other relevant details. Eyewitness accounts from other people can also help strengthen your case – remember to take names and contact details.
One other important point. If you were too badly injured to make a written record or gather other evidence, don’t panic. A written report is always valuable, but the lack of one doesn’t automatically rule out a compensation claim.
What about medical evidence?
This is a crucial part of any injury-related case. You should obtain medical treatment at your earliest opportunity. If you’ve been involved in a nasty accident this goes without saying, but if your injuries are less pronounced – or likely to worsen over time – then medical advice won’t just be valuable in the short-term, it will also stand as part of the evidence needed to make a claim.
Bear in mind that GPs are often now available for telephone and Zoom conversations, so you don’t necessarily have to make a face-to-face appointment. And it’s never too late to get an ongoing injury checked out.
All that said, while having a professional medical opinion to back up your case can be highly beneficial, it’s not the end of the world if you’ve been unable to speak to a doctor or visit hospital. Depending on the circumstances, you may still be able to make a claim.
What happens if my injury makes it impossible to get back to work?
This can be a big concern for all workers, but particularly the self-employed. Being involved in an accident can have a major – and potentially long-term – impact on your income. The situation can be made more acute by the fact that self-employed workers don’t qualify for Statutory Sick Pay.
However, if your ability to work has been hampered by injury, you may well be eligible to receive Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). In some cases, it’s also possible to claim Universal Credit at the same time. ESA is only paid to people who don’t qualify for Statutory Sick Pay.
What can I claim for after an accident?
This very much depends on the circumstances, but it’s likely you’ll be able to claim for General Damages (which compensates you for the pain and suffering caused by the injury) and Recuperation (which covers the help you’ll need during your recovery period).
Depending on the circumstances, you could also be in a position to claim for loss of earnings and other expenses. Because of this, it’s always advisable to keep a record of your losses and costs following an accident. These might include anything from medical treatment to travel expenses.
To recover lost earnings, you usually need to provide your accounts for the last three years and show evidence of work projects that were in the calendar before the injury, but which became impossible to fulfil.
Be aware that for all claims, the accident needs to have occurred within the past three years. In the case of an industrial injury – such as exposure to dangerous substances – the three years would begin from the date of your diagnosis.
How much compensation could I get?
All claims are dealt with on a case-by-case basis, but by giving us a call and outlining your situation, we’ll be able to give you a clear idea – as well as the best possible advice to ensure you receive the full compensation you’re entitled to.
Any other questions? Feel free to get in touch for a no-obligation consultation or ask your question below.