Claiming Compensation for a failure in Duty of Care

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

When it comes to compensation claims, these three short words are hugely important. We’ll look in more detail at what the phrase means, and why it’s so significant, but let’s start with a short, clear definition.

In law, Duty of Care describes the obligation of a business, or goods provider, to keep their employees and consumers safe from harm. It is not something that can be opted out of.

If this Duty of Care is breached, it can be legally be considered negligence.

If you suffer an injury or illness as a result, the business or provider can be found liable and you may be entitled to claim compensation.

Table of contents

When does Duty of Care apply to a compensation case?

If you’ve been harmed, and you believe someone else’s negligence is the reason why, two key things need to be proved.

  1. The other party owed you a Duty of Care.
  2. The other party failed to take reasonable steps to fulfil that duty, resulting in you being physically or psychologically harmed.

This outcome, of course, can apply to a vast range of different settings and incidents. At Direct2Compensation we deal with a large number of valid compensation cases. Here are some of the most common scenarios we handle.

Duty of Care at work

All employers have a Duty of Care to their employees. By law, they should take all reasonable steps to keep you from harm’s way.

This means they should be undertaking things such as staff inductions, effective training, regular risk assessments, and the provision of the correct PPE and a secure environment which is free from avoidable dangers.

The wider implications of Duty of Care, however, often differ from job to job:

  • On a construction site, it might include providing appropriate tools and safety equipment, as well as minimising any potential trip/ slip/ accident hazards, or contact with dangerous chemicals.
  • In an office, it might include ensuring that all desks and chairs are ergonomically sound, and that relevant health and safety protocols are in place.
  • In a restaurant kitchen, it might include making sure that working conditions are safe and hygienic, and that working practices do not put staff at risk.
  • On a factory floor, it might include precautions and training around machinery, as well as giving employees sufficient work-breaks.

It’s worth being aware that there’s a difference between an employer’s statutory duties (reasonable steps which should be followed to avoid injuries and accidents) and their absolute duties (non-negotiable absolutes which have to be in place, such as keeping work equipment in safe working order) – although Duty of Care covers both.

No matter what your line of work, or where your job takes you, we’re always able to offer advice on whether you might have a valid work accident compensation claim. Please feel free to get in touch.

When receiving medical treatment

Doctors, nurses and medical professionals – including those in the NHS, as well as private practitioners – all have a clear remit to make sure you’re given the highest standard of care. If you suffer because these standards haven’t been met, perhaps through a misdiagnosis, through harmful advice, or through an avoidable delay in treatment, you may have a case for a medical negligence claim.

When in a shop

Supermarkets and other retail outlets have an obligation to keep their premises safe for customers. Among other things, this includes removing unsafe aisle obstructions, clearing up any liquid spills as soon as possible, using hazard signs when necessary, and ensuring carpets are free of rips and tears that could cause a trip or fall. If you’ve suffered an accident in a supermarket or slipped on a shop floor due to the mistakes or negligence of the traders, you may have a valid claim for compensation.

When using a product

Any product that you buy should be safe for use, and be clearly labelled with warnings of any associated dangers. Manufacturers have an obligation to carry out relevant safety tests on the products they sell. If manufacturers fall short in this Duty of Care, and you come to harm as the result of a faulty or hazardous product, you may have a case for negligence.

In a café, restaurant, hotel or other hospitality business

All hospitality businesses have a Duty of Care to their customers. This covers everything from food hygiene and cleaning procedures to trip and slip hazards.

If the negligent actions of a hospitality business have caused you to be injured or to become unwell, we can offer advice on whether you have a legal right to compensation.

At a school or university

Places of learning are obliged to take all reasonable steps to keep their students and staff safe from harm. This might cover anything from serious bullying and personal safety to fire precautions and First Aid provision. Should you have been unfortunate enough to have come to harm in a place of learning, as a result of the school or university’s negligence, we can help you establish whether you have a claim.

As a road-user or pedestrian

All road-users have a Duty of Care to their fellow road-users. This applies to drivers, cyclists, horse-riders and even pedestrians. If an individual is deemed to have caused an accident through unsafe driving or unsafe behaviour, they could be judged to have failed in their Duty of Care to you and face a road traffic accident claim. This might also apply to a local authority which has neglected to keep roads or pathways in a satisfactory condition.

On public transport

If you’re injured on a train, bus, tram or ferry, and the cause can be attributed to the actions of the transport provider, you may have a claim for compensation. This could relate to negligent driving, dangerous on-board conditions, or even a mechanical malfunction.

No matter what the scenario you find yourself in, and whether it’s listed above or not, we’re always happy to talk things through. If we feel you have a case for a claim, we’ll work to secure you the level of compensation you’re entitled to.

How much compensation could I be due?

This would depend on a number of different factors, including the nature of the accident and the long-term impact of the injury or illness. In the first instance, we would advise you to get in touch to discuss your situation. We operate on a no-win, no-fee basis, and have many years of experience in compensation claims.

What if I can’t prove that a third party was at fault?

If a harmful incident was caused by something other than a third party’s negligence, it can sometimes be possible to claim compensation through other means. We’ll always give you fair and truthful advice as to whether you’re likely to have a claim.

Let us help

Might you be in a position to make a negligence claim for Duty of Care? You’re in safe hands with Direct2Compensation. Our advice is always honest, our claims process is transparent and effective, and you’ll have the peace of mind that comes with our no-win, no-fee approach.

To find out more, or to start your claim today, call us on 01225 430285. If you prefer, we can call you back. After just a few minutes on the phone, we’ll have enough information to allow our solicitors to get your claim started.

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

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Questions & Answers

  • Lou

    I slipped on stairs as it was dark as the lights didn’t work as one off the light bulbs was full off water! I have damaged ligaments also got a blood clot which traveled from my ankle to my neck/shoulder and hand! A guy went and removed the light bulb which he confirmed before h&s went in. Now the employer claims that they are not liable! Is this right? I have photos of the bulb and dark stairs and a witness who says they followed me up the stairs which stopped any natural light from the window at the bottom off the stairs.

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      Do you have a Solicitor acting for you in this matter? If not, we would like our Solicitors to take this on for you as it would appear that you may have valid grounds to seek compensation for your injuries.

      You can get further help by calling us on 01225430285 or by using the ‘start your claim‘ page of our website to provide additional information.

      Reply
  • Tanya

    I was assaulted at work by a customer, due to this I hurt my neck, shoulder and knee. I have been off for 3 weeks due to muscle and ligament pain.
    Would this fall on my employer due to duty of care? As I work in McDonald’s and it happened asking a customer to do the track and trace, I was the only staff member for that department.

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      It is unlikely that your employer is liable or negligent in this scenario as the injuries you have sustained were caused through an act of criminal assault. However, we can assist with a claim and our specialist Solicitors will evaluate whether there is any realistic prospect of pursuing the employer or whether your claim would need to be made to the criminal injuries compensation authority.

      Please use the form on the ‘start your claim for compensation‘ page of our website so that we can further help you with this.

      Reply
  • Philip Eastham

    I was a regular VDU user in my previous role with Mitie Facilities management. Despite several requests re eye care vouchers and help with the purchase of spectacles none was forthcoming. I have recently been to the opticians and my eye sight has deteriorated. Eye care vouchers and glasses are requirement for companies employees who use VDUs regularly, this is specified by the HSE. Can I claim against Mitie as they have not provided what I am legally entitled to? The office (portacabin) I was based in also did not have suitable lighting. No diffusers were present on the fluorescent tubes contributing to eye strain.

    Reply
  • Ian

    Until recently, I worked in the Aviation Industry for over 15 years but am now redundant. However, in January of 2020 I was diagnosed with having had a TIA (Mini stroke) which I believe was a culmination of unnecessary work pressure and avoidable risks that my previous employer was aware of, during 2019.
    Am I in a position to pursue a claim of negligence at the workplace, or a disregard of duty of care?

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      We can seek advice for you from our specialist Solicitors who could consider this matter for you. The likely problem that springs to mind is one of causation. That is establishing a causal link between the TIA and the stressful situation in your place of work the year beforehand.

      Reply
  • marie

    I work as clinical support worker. I reported a work related injury to my charge nurse which was caused by me working along side a dementia patient and during their care, I asked to be referred to occupational health on a few occasions. Eventually I said that I’m worried the injury may cause me to have to go on sick leave and the charge nurse just kept on making excuses and never referred. She me kept putting me on long shifts (and night shifts) and now three months later, I’m of work with shoulder pain and I have been told by the hospital that the injury is ‘wear and tear’ due to my work.

    This has cause me mental anxiety and physical pain, for which a Doctor now has referred me on my sick line. I need physio for the injury and also counselling for anxiety issues. On phoning I reminded the employer that I had asked 4 months ago for help and they admitted that they know the situation is work related.

    I’m so disheartened that there was no duty of care to me. Also I haven’t been provided with training on manual handling and I have never seen the charge nurse document this in any accident book or ask me to sign for the incident. There was other nurses who were present at the time it was reported and on occasions I have asked for a referral to occupational health for the pain. It is now getting worse due to working on long shifts.

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      You may have grounds to pursue a claim against your employer for their failure to address your concerns and provide reasonable adjustments and occupational health involvement despite your warning them of the issue.

      If you would like to speak with our Solicitors about this and seek their advice regarding a potential claim for compensation, please call us on 01225430285.

      Reply
  • David

    I had a slip accident in a supermarket. I hurt my thigh, hand/wrist, shoulder and collar bone. I received a friction burn to my knee.
    However, the staff of the store offered me no assistance, no First Aid, didn’t speak to me at all.
    I returned the next day and asked for the incident to be entered into the store accident book. I was told that they didn’t have one, but that they entered details into the company’s online accident reporting system.
    The duty manager- who had also witnessed the accident and cleaned up the spillage – took very scant notes and not my phone number or email address. I subsequently requested a copy of the accident report which they sent me – which was, unsurprisingly, very poor.

    Did the store have a Duty of Care to me as a customer to make sure that I was alright (not concussed, nothing broken)?

    Is there any requirement to have an accident book on site? Is there any required time duration when the accident should be written into the accident book and what details need to be included?

    (They have admitted liability to the accident itself.)

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      There is no requirement to have a physical ‘accident book’ on site and their online method of recording the details of any customer involved in an accident is perfectly reasonable. Indeed, it could be seen as a better way of recording incident details as there is less opportunity for an accident record to ‘go missing’.

      The duty of care issue you raise is not one that holds a legal liability, but morally they should certainly have afforded you some respect, checked on you and asked what, if any assistance you felt you may need.

      There is certainly the potential to pursue a claim for compensation for the injuries you sustained and this is a matter our specialist Solicitors would be happy to assist you with on a No Win No Fee basis.

      Reply
  • Mark

    Hi. I fell on a wet floor at the company I work for and broke my hip. There were ‘Wet Floor’ signs in the corridor outside the bathrooms where I fell, and where I was working cleaning door handles, but the signs were always there, whether the floor was wet or not: they were never stored, just left out permanently. I have a genetic disability (that the employer is aware of) that means I have very weak bones and I’m unsteady on my feet: I may now be wheelchair bound for life. Will the presence of signage hinder my claim? My disability means I am extra prone to slipping, even if I am careful and aware of the wet surface which in this case I wasn’t: does that mean the employer owes me a duty of care to not put me in such a dangerous situation? Thank you.

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      As per the contents of this page of our website, the provision of a hazard warning sign doesn’t in and of itself absolve the employer (or any other party) from liability should someone then slip on a slipping hazard. In this case, as the signs were always out, their value would have been undermined as none of the staff would have associated them as indicating a present risk of injury.

      We would certainly be happy to further investigate this potential claim for you. It would be helpful if you could email us at justice@direct2compensation.co.uk to outline the incident, what happened afterwards in terms of any report or investigation and how the injuries are affecting you. If you can send this to us along with your contact details, we’ll be in touch to offer further guidance.

      Reply
  • Tia Drayson

    My daughter was thrown from a horse at her part time job at a dealers yard, she was badly hurt, broken knee , severed ligament and bleeding kidneys. She asked for an ambulance and the dealer refused her plea she begged him 5 times. And was refused. And indeed asked to get back on the horse. It’s not the first young girl who has been injured up there. She now can’t walk, can’t work. Does she have a claim?

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      There could well be a valid claim against your daughters employers. All employers have a duty of care to ensure that all staff, whether part time, full-time or even temporary, are afforded proper training and that the risk of injury in the workplace is minimised. Even in workplaces where the inherent risks posed by the nature of the work are higher.

      It would be a prudent move to speak with us on the phone or via email so that our team can get some additional information that would help us to further evaluate the prospect of succeeding with a claim against the employer.

      To get further help, please call us on 01225430285. Alternatively, you can email our team via justice@direct2compensation.co.uk or ask us to call you.

      Reply
  • Laura

    Hi, I tripped over a parking pole that was on the councils road but was apparently put there by a resident, who admitted putting there but has took it up, the council say he didn’t have permission. But the thing is there are more poles down my road that are the same and the council know about them but haven’t took them down. I seriously hurt my knees and still have problems in one. The council said it’s not their fault so wont give me compensation. I have photos and the response from the council’s insurers doesn’t add up. Please can you help as I feel the council have a duty of care. There is a parking problem down my street so people can’t walk on the pavement. That’s why I had to walk in the road.

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      Please email your photographs, council response and a detailed explanation of the accident and injuries (including date and time) to our team via: justice@direct2compensation.co.uk so that we can consider this matter further and assist you with advice regarding a potential claim for compensation.

      Reply
  • Louise

    I slipped on a busy street. The road is tree lined and it had been raining so the pavement was slippy. My foot went out from under me and I landed on my coccyx. I’m badly bruised and in pain. Would the council have duty of care to ensure the pavement isn’t like an ice rink when it’s raining???

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      As long as the surface of the pavement is well maintained and free from holes, loose slabs or other tripping hazards, the council would not be liable should someone suffer an unfortunate slip due to rain water or leaves on the pavement.

      Sadly, in the case you describe, it would not appear that there has been any negligence and therefore, our initial view is that you are not able to make a claim against the local council.

      Reply
  • Alan

    Hi I am currently off work with STT joint osteoarthritis in my right wrist, I have had 2 steroid injections over the past 4 months which have not helped, the specialist (NHS) I have been seeing has indicated that this condition had flair up due to an extra work load over a 3 week period leading up to my work absence since October last year. I had an MRI on Monday which confirmed this condition and how it has worsened. This injury has happened at my work as a Technician at a Construction College, I have been there around 6 years and have never seen a risk assessment for using the Pan Mixer for making Mortar or any anyone from the College H&S team to inform of any risks that might be involved while using this machine. The resulting problem with my wrist has developed over a number of years of repetitive and heavy lifting movements which now require Surgery to alleviate the pain and regain some movement in the damaged joint. I believe the College has failed in their Duty of Care in regards to the condition I now find myself in. Is this something that can be looked at in regards to an Injury claim? Would appreciate any help on this matter. Regards
    Alan.

    Reply
  • Jake

    Hi. I know this may be an unusual question but I hope you will be able to help.
    If someone engages a solicitor to run a personal injury claim does the solicitor have a ‘duty of care’ to that client? In short, I am nearing the end of a claim which has not been dealt with or progressed very well at all and as a result I have had to point out a few times over the last 6 months or so that I am frustrated, anxious and stressed. I even used the internal complaint service when I was lied to by my claims handler (I won’t go into details but it can be proven) and I felt they were unnecessarily delaying the progress of my case. When the matter was looked into I received a letter which did not even address the main issue! More recently there have been severe unnecessary delays and mistakes made which have caused a great deal of stress. So much so that I have been diagnosed with a particular skin disorder that is stress related and I believe directly attributed to the (mis)handling of my case.
    My case is days away from completion now and I will be making a formal complaint to the CEO of this major company but I wanted to ask the ‘duty of care’ question. If I am not satisfied with the outcome of that letter then I will either contact the Legal Ombudsman or may take legal action!
    Many thanks for your help and also many thanks for the great service you provide in answering questions – for many people it is very helpful.

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      Solicitors do indeed have a duty of care towards their client. They must act in the best interests of their client and ensure that their work is of a high standard on behalf of the claimant.

      Reply
  • Lea

    I have been harassed and bullied at work. I raised my concerns with my team leader and then my manager and finally broke down in front of HR and was signed off work with work related stress. That was 7 weeks ago and still nothing has been done about the problem. I have been sent porn and anti Jewish texts from the bully as well as problems in work. I was told not to raise a grievance by my line manager and my team leader said I don’t want to get involved when I tried to show him a print out of what had been sent.
    I have sent emails to HR addressing the bullying they told me to fill in a stress risk assessment which I have done. I have never been made aware of our harassment and bullying procedures (it was mentioned in the stress risk assessment).
    I have the texts I was sent. I love my job but can’t work with that man again, I was too afraid to talk to him directly about it, so went to my manager. I explained his behaviour was becoming worrying and hoped that would be enough. It wasnt. He just said everyone knows what my co worker is like, but if it came down to it, I would be moved as my co worker ‘couldn’t survive anywhere else’.
    Do I have grounds for failing duty of care because I am now left with anxiety, depression and paranoia?

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      Potentially, you do have grounds for a claim against your employer. Claims of this nature require expert consideration by a qualified specialist and we can present your enquiry to them in order that they can advise you properly.

      Reply
  • Jo

    I had an incident at work that caused me to get a broken bone – it was not of my own doing. There was no duty of care and we were short staffed. I have had 2 surgeries and my third is coming up. Full hip replacement. I have been off full time hours for 15 months but all up have only not been at work for 3 & 1/2 of those months. I’m seated or light duties. I am being paid still. Am I entitled to go for a claim?

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      Whether or not an employer pays you during a period of absence from work after being injured in an accident at work does not impact in anyway on your right to make a claim for compensation. Given that you are of the view that your accident at work was caused by the negligence of your employer, you have every right to make a claim for the hip injuries you suffered.

      Reply
  • Margaret

    Whilst leaving the private livery yard where I keep my horses and going to my car In their car park, slipped and fell on the ice breaking my ankle. I had already gritted the ramp which leads to the muck heap as it was icy. The car park by the afternoon was like sheet ice and although I was taking care had this heavy fall witnessed by four people. I’m off work and having to pay now for daily care for my horses and dog. It’s my understanding they should have had a duty of care to their clients to make sure the car parking area was safe. I informed the yard manger but I don’t believe this information was passed onto the owners. Is there liability ?

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      Claims for compensation after injuries sustained when slipping on ice can succeed, but as you can imagine, with ice being a natural weather issue and presenting an inherent slip risk, it is not always the case that one can pursue a claim successfully in such circumstances.

      However, given your injury and the scenario you describe, it would be sensible to further investigate whether or not we can hold the livery business liable in this matter. It would be wise to ensure that the report you made to the yard manager is put in writing and presented to the owners of the business. Once this is done, please use the ‘start a claim’ page of our website to make further contact in order that we can look into your claim for personal injury compensation.

      Reply
  • Stephen

    Hello on dec 25th dec my wife fell on a wet floor in Sainsburys. The wet floor sign was up but the floor was unduly wet from cleaning even the tho store had over 90 mins of opening time.
    It was all logged at the time. I did contact legal aid who say since the floor sign was up i cannot get compensation. Is this true? I don’t think Sainsburys duty of care was upheld that time and the floor was dried up with a machine just after the accident ( i have a video) so why was it left in that state. Any help is appreciated.

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      The provision of or placement of a hazard warning sign is just that – a warning of a possible hazard. Erecting a hazard sign does not in and of itself absolve the proposed defendant of liability should someone then slip. Whilst the defendants may have met the required duty of care by erecting the hazard warning sign, it would be sensible for us to have the matter reviewed for your wife. If it can be shown that the provided sign was an inadequate warning given the condition of the floor, the claim may be able to proceed.

      To this end, we suggest that you email the video clip you mentioned to us at: justice@direct2compensation.co.uk in order that we can seek further opinions from our specialist Solicitors and investigate whether or not we can take this further for you.

      Reply
  • david

    I suffered a whiplash injury while in a company van in company hours (van was stationary, hit head on my a car, all caught on dash cam, not my fault), have been unable to work now for nearly a year. This part is being dealt with by insurance company and solicitor, I had no income apart from ssp, company have no help from my employer.
    Should they be helping me get back to work? Also I’m struggling to pay bills and mortgage.
    Under duty of care should they be helping in any way?

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      The employer has no obligation to resolve your financial situation, but they should be helping with a return to work – if it is possible for you to do so. This would mean that the employer should work with you to provide a gradual return to work – initially on low hours and probably on light duties in order that you can return to work eventually.

      The other issue you can look in to is getting your Solicitor to obtain an interim payment from the defendant insurers ahead of any final settlement.

      Reply
  • Peter Leamon

    Whilst on a weekend break (21/9 – 24/9/18) at a well known caravan park company, it was raining quite heavily and there was a leaking gutter directly over the door and set of metal steps. The result being a puddle on the R H side of the steps. When I went out my right foot made contact with the puddle on thr top step, slipped off, and I slid down all 3 steps on my back landing in a heap on the ground below.
    I sustained a bruised back and muscular bruising to my right shoulder and just above my right buttock. Quite intense pain incurred.
    Do they have a “duty of care” in this instance and could I make a claim against them? I have kept a log of the accident/times etc. I have heard nothing from them even though I saw their First Aider on site who filled in an accident form just after the accident

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      The caravan park company most certainly do have a duty of care and there is a strong argument to be made that they have breached it in this case and that their negligence (in not repairing the leaking guttering prior to placing you in the caravan in question) directly lead to your injury. As such, I would recommend that you do pursue a claim against this company for your injuries, the cost of the weekend break and any associated losses.

      Reply
  • Lisa

    I had an accident at work when I bent down to pick some rubbish up from the floor near to a machine. As I got back up, I hit my head on a sharp corner of the machine which cut my head. I was bleeding quite heavily. There were first aiders on site which did help me. I then had to make arrangements to get to the hospital myself which I thought the company would have a duty of care to help me with? Now on the accident form it says that if I had done better house keeping in the warehouse it would have been prevented! Also they did say they would put sponge around the Sharpe edges of the machine.

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      My initial view is that you have a good case for a claim against your employer here and that their comment on the accident book about good housekeeping is erroneous and irrelevant. The cause of your injury was the unprotected sharp corner of the machine and not housekeeping. If the corner of the machine had a guard or padding on it, you would not have sustained the injury.

      If you would like to make a claim for compensation we would be happy to help you with that.

      Reply
  • Jon

    Hi, Im just after a little bit of advice. I work as a contractor in the mines, i recently squashed my finger on site. It immediately swelled to almost twice the size and turned purple straight away. I attended first aid where i was given an ice pack and went through the process of reporting the incident. Was back on the job an hour later. The next day when i returned to site and informed them that i intended to see a doctor for a second opinion i was made to feel guilty about hurting myself and on at least 4 different occasions indirectly persuaded not to attend the doctor. I returned home the next day and sure enough my finger was broken.
    My question is, should they have taken me to hospital themselves straight away? Is it their duty of care?
    Thank for your help.

    Reply
    • Ian Morris

      I am sorry to hear about your accident at work. Under UK health and safety law, an employer must not prevent an injured person from seeking professional qualified medical help when it is needed. In your case, it would seem odd that the employer wouldn’t advise you to seek immediate medical treatment. Indeed, their desire to have you working whilst injured may well have placed you at risk of further injury as well as also creating a risk to your colleagues. As you are probably aware, working in a manual job such as yours where heavy tools are used, to use them you need to be fit and well and if you are injured, you may not be able to work safely. In your case, your finger injury would have undoubtedly affected your grip strength and dexterity, so allowing you to work in that condition was a risk to you and your colleagues.

      Reply
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