Can I claim compensation for a work injury if I’m self-employed?

24 questions have been answered below, why not ask your own?

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

What type of accident can I claim compensation for?

As with any 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, 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.

24 questions have been answered below, why not ask your own?

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Questions & Answers

  1. Simon

    Just an enquiry, have been self employed for 30 years but not subbed in many years, is there anything I could claim for as I been diagnosed with arthritis in multiple joints hands and carpel tunnel, I am a plasterer 46, and most my work has been on domestic houses. So not sure I hold much case, thanks

    • Ian Morris

      As you are self-employed, you will struggle to pursue a claim as there is unlikely to be any 3rd party against whom you can apportion negligence.

  2. Neil

    Hi I’m a courier not self employed
    While doing a collection I fell down about ten steps hurt my leg and damaged my rotar cuff In my shoulder can I claim and if so who from

    • Ian Morris

      Whether or not you can claim (and against whom) will depend on the cause of your fall down the flight of steps. To make a claim for personal injury compensation, the injured party must be able to attribute their injury to negligence. Therefore, in this case, you could make a claim if there was some disrepair on the steps (damaged surface, something sticking up, loose edging or carpet etc) or if the steps were wet/had some substance on them and there was no hazard warning sign on display. Other areas of negligence could include issues such as broken lighting. However, if you simply misplaced your footing and then fallen, you cannot make a claim.

      Please let me know more about your fall and I can then advise further.

  3. darren


    i am a self employed solar installer and fit the panels to the roofs for another ltd company. When screwing brackets to the outside of the roof i hit the main power cable that feeds the house from the grid which shouldnt of been there. This cable had been run in a strange way and was inbetween the roof truss and the felt at this location i was attempting to fix to. The resulting arc/explosion of the fixing and drill burnt my hand and i had to go to hospital for observations. i didnt check inside the loft before i started work as i would have clearly seen this error can i claim and who would i sue in this case?

    • Ian Morris

      If the main power cable was fitted and installed negligently and not in accordance with the appropriate regulations, it may be possible to succeed with the claim. Do you know if it is known as to who installed the cable and when?

      To succeed with a claim for personal injury compensation, supporting evidence will be needed to substantiate the claim. In this case, that is likely to be the details of who installed the cable and when, along with a record of the incident within the site operators accident book. Also, if an Ambulance was called to the scene of the incident, that could provide sufficient evidence to prove you were injured on the site as described.

      Please call us on 01225430285 so that we can further discuss your accident at work and a potential claim for compensation.

  4. David williams

    I had a accident at work I am self employed and I work on a regular basis for this company in there yard.. It happened may 2018..ambulance was called taken to hospital.. Ankle was broken in 2 places.. Surgery of metal plates the nxt day.. Not sure it was recorded in accident book.. But would there be records from the hospital ambulance etc.. Still available to verify thanks

    • Ian Morris

      We need to speak with you about your accident at work so that we can ascertain whether or not you can pursue a claim for personal injury compensation.

      In terms of evidence to support your claim, if an Ambulance attended the scene of the incident, it is likely that an accident report would have been completed by the company in question and there is of course also going to be ambulance records that confirm that you were treated at the scene and conveyed to Hospital with injury. Therefore, it should not be too problematic to prove that you were injured in the location claimed.

      Whether or not you can pursue a claim will depend on what caused the injury and how it happened. Please call us on 01225430285 so that we can speak with you about your situation in more detail. If you would prefer, we can call you or you can make further contact with us by email ( too.

  5. Donald MacDonald

    I had an accident at work and broke my leg. I was self employed should the client I worked for showed me the report he sent to the HSE and should they have investigated the accident as I was air lifted to hospital
    Should the client done and showed me a risk assessment of the work site and informed me of any hazards?

    • Ian Morris

      If the client for whom you were working was aware of potential hazards, but failed to inform you or erect any barriers or warnings regarding the hazards, they may be liable for the injuries you sustained.

      Please call us on 01225430285 so that we can discuss your situation and further consider whether or not we may be able to help you make a claim for compensation for the injuries you have sustained.

  6. Aaron

    Dear Ian,

    Bit of a complex case but here we go.
    I was working on a site for a prestigious well known sportswear company in Oxford Circus.
    I was working there as a self employed/subcontractor for the business who I have been working self employed for for a while now, and we were all in turn subcontracting (including my boss) there for a very large shop outfitting company doing the ceilings and partitions on one of the floors they had just bought from another company on the site.

    During work a large plyboard that we were taking down would not move so my boss who I invoice was trying to free it up, as this wasn’t working I asked him to hold on so I could reshuffle my stance and he gave the board a shove and I caught the weight forcing my arm to contract suddenly to stop the weight from landing on my shin. Due to this I picked up a full distal bicep tendon tear/rupture to my right arm (I am right handed), there was a popping sound and my bicep had bunched up at the shoulder and I was in a lot of pain. This happened around 30 minutes before we left the site in London to head back to Portsmouth (our hometown). My boss had asked me to let him know if I would be in the next day and I said I would let him know.
    Around an hour after arriving home I sent him a message (date and time included) and told my boss I wouldn’t be in the next day as I would need to go to the hospital as my bicep muscle had retracted up my arm and bunched up at the shoulder, the pain was excruciating. This was on the 20th Nov 2019 and I attended hospital the next morning at 8am 21st Nov 2019.
    The hospital confirmed a full distal bicep tendon tear/rupture and that an x-ray would be needed there and turn to ensure no bone had torn away with the tendon and muscle which it hadn’t but a doctor confirmed the distal bicep tendon tear. Then an appointment had to be made for me to return for an ultrasound, and an appointment with the trauma and orthopaedic surgery team. I was also informed that I would then be given surgery (which has to be completed within 3 weeks of the injury to ensure success).
    I am going through this process right now but have been told I wont be able to work as normal as my job involves lifting and shifting (labourer) during this period, then that I will be in cast and sling for 6 weeks after surgery and so will not be able to work during this period either, followed by around 3-4 months of rehabilitative physiotherapy to help me return to normal strength and function levels in the surgically repair muscle, tendon and joint. I will not be able to lift plasterboards, ply boards during this period either as I would risk rehearing the tendon. The rehab on this injury has to be given the appropriate time to ensure full recovery. It also means I cannot engage in playing rugby or lifting weights which means this injury will limit me in my personal life/time as well as keeping me off work. I have received a confirmation letter from the hospital including the date of my injury (20.11.2019) the date I attended the hospital to get the injury looked at (8am 21.11.2019) and how I attained the injury, a FULL detail snd confirmation of the injury etc.

    As far as I am aware the accident book at the site where the injury was picked up hasn’t been filled in regarding this incident by my employer, the main overall employer on the site or by the company who owns the site despite my employer being aware of this and being required to report my injury. In addition to this I received no health and safety or site induction prior to commencing work on the site and I had been working there nearly two weeks when I was finally injured. To my knowledge now I’m told they were breaking the law having me work on site having not signed to inform I had received a site induction etc?

    My presence on the site would be able to be confirmed by a check of the various CCTV points on the site, by my signing in downstairs at the security desk, and signing a visitor pass out on the security desk of the company we are doing the refit for and will include my name, signature and times in/out on both desks, details on my invoices paid by my employer etc and communications between myself and my direct employer.

    Do I have grounds for a claim and any chance of success? If so who would be the best to approach regarding a claim? The individual who directly pays my invoices, the larger shopfitting company who all we subcontractors and foremen were there working for, or the company who own the property/site who are paying for the outfit services?
    Any advice or help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

    Kind regards

    Mr Brown

    • Ian Morris

      The best course of action in the first place would be to use our ‘start your claim‘ service and make further contact with us. We can then take some initial information from you and pass this to our specialist Solicitors for detailed consideration. The Solicitors would be able to work out against whom you should pursue your claim and take it further from there for you.

  7. Russell

    Dear Sir/Madam

    I have fallen at work and suffered a deep laceration on the front of my shin. I was taken to AE treated and sent home. It’s taken 3 weeks to get back to work. My leg is still not fully healed but I must earn some money. I still have pins and needles in my foot and a sore back from the fall. I was working on a construction site and the area I was working was a designated walk way but was full of building materials. Very poor house keeping. I have photographic evidence of the site of the incident before and after as they tried to hide the evidence (Persimmon homes). I have photos of the injury to my leg. The walk way was still insufficient after the incident. I feel I have a strong case. I was wearing full PPE. The only thing I wasn’t wearing was steel toecap boots. I was wearing hicking boots with rubber toes. I’m self employed so have to supply my own PPE.
    My employees wanted me to attend a disciplinary meeting as they said I was not compliant on my PPE and no compliant with site risk and methods statement! Letter says I could receive a written warning or dismissal. Very nice of them! As I had tripped over a pile of timber and fallen on some of there scaffold tubes, (Which you can see in the photo). Forgot to say I’m a scaffold labourer.
    The people I feel are at fault are the property development company persimmon homes as they are in charge of house keeping and already have a poor record on that site but also I feel my contracted company can be at fault. Well I might feel a bit upset with them as they have acted the way they have. With the letter they sent.
    Also another example of being poorly treated. When I was injured I took my work boots off to put more comfortable trainers on to go to hospital. So I put them in the company van. Later I find out they have taken them out of the van and left them back at the company office. When I phoned to ask why my boots were not in the van. The manger said they had them as evidence! He was going to show me the boots when I was attending the disciplinary meeting. Need I say I have quit my job and already started work with someone else. I believe my time off work other scaffolders were wearing my boots without my knowledge as well! As the company supervisor handed them out! They should of stayed in the van! If they were clearing the van surely they would taken all my other belongings too not just my boots back to the office.

    Sorry for long message look forward to hearing a reply.



    • Ian Morris

      We would like to assist you with your claim as it could well be the case that you are in a strong position to hold the building company you mention liable for negligence. The fact that you have photographs of the area where you fell is further supporting evidence.

      Please use our ‘start a claim‘ page to make further contact with us and we can then help further investigate your claim and help you in this process.

  8. Sharon white

    If I’m a self employed taxi driver and was given lots of wheelchair work and have had to have 2 hernia repairs, and now in desperate need of a operation to my lower back which is quite bad, can I claim against the company that give me the jobs?

    • Ian Morris

      As a self-employed worker taking on a contract of work from a 3rd party you are responsible for your own health and safety and in the scenario you describe, it is not likely that you would be able to pursue a claim successfully against the company that has provided you with work.

  9. Robert

    I’m a gas engineer and have recently pursued a claim against Severn Trent after I fell down a man hole off a public road whilst doing my job. In the fall I hurt my shin quite badly and the drain spun and impacted my knee which I know struggle with, especially in my work as a fitter.

    I tried to claim as my company said it was a very serious matter as it was in a public place but they sent my application off for just lack of earnings for three days and new clothing which was all I wanted they denied it and said that it wasn’t there responsibility!

    I never went to hospital as I’m self-employed and have other people that work for me. Could you help? I have supporting emails, videos & pictures etc.

    • Ian Morris

      We may well be able to help you with a claim, including recovering your lost earnings. You mention having supporting video footage, photographs and emails. It would help us greatly if you could forward them to us for consideration so that we can advise you further and seek assistance from our specialist Solicitors for you.

      Please email your items to: along with your telephone number and a brief description of your accident, including the date. We’ll then be able to review the information and get back to you in more detail.

  10. Lee

    Hi cut my hand at work when I was doing high level work on ladder, as I was pulling down the second run on the ladder the first run slid down at speed my immediate reaction was to reach up toward the ladder the foot of the ladder
    Hit my hand and left a big gash in my hand I notfity my company via email but I had no response from them i had to have few days of I am self employed , so don’t know where I stand on this I have photo and proof of email sent when I was unable to intend work but again no respond from the work place .

    • Ian Morris

      Although you were self-employed, you may have rights to make a claim for compensation against whoever had contracted you. If the ladder is your own, you would probably have your own responsibility for ensuring it was fit for purpose and safe to use (and that you were trained in using it safely). However, if the ladder belongs to a main contractor you could take this further (possibly!). We’ve an article on ladder accident claims which might be of further interest.

  11. aurelius

    Hi, I have an accident at work. I worked as a self-employed in LTD company. In that company, I worked for more than 3 years. And my taxes were deducted and I was paid by weekly wages every week, the company was paying for some of my tools I never worked for the price work or in other jobs without the company knowing.
    1. Can I be described as an employed?
    2. I worked in the building and I was told about the hazard day before from another person (not the boss) as he never came on site that day. But no one did anything to prevent the accident no signs or barriers were placed only by word of the mouth :/ day before. Is that my fault for an accident as I been told day before?
    3. Who will be responsible if a company don`t have employe liability insurance and have only public liability and public liability decides to not take that case? Is that mean if in a company bank account £1 only, so for me no point to even claim?

    • Ian Morris

      The situation/scenario you describe is exactly why No Win No Fee personal injury compensation claim services are so vital and important. You have clearly had an accident that was not your fault – the employer should have ensured that the hazard was clearly marked or blocked with barriers. Their failure to do this puts them in breach of Health and Safety regulations.

      Although you are unsure as to the insurance cover held by the employer and have concerns about how any claim against the employer will be handled at their end, you can pursue the matter with us on a No Win No Fee basis, safe in the knowledge that should the defendant either not have appropriate cover/funds to settle your claim or if the claim were to fail, you would not have to pay any costs.

      At Direct2Compensation we will assess the prospects of your claim and then our specialist Solicitors will run a risk assessment. If we decide that we will pursue your claim on a No Win No Fee basis, we take the financial risk should the claim fail and not you.

  12. James

    I was in a relationship with a director of a company and they were paying me on a self employed basis. When i left the relationship they had paid me from another company account and are now claiming the salary back. I had to leave my job due to domestic abuse from the director and former partner which i have emails, video footage as evidence of abuse.

    • Ian Morris

      This appears to be an employment law issue and needs expert advice from a specialist working in that sector.

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