With any injury at work or job that’s causing an illness, an employee can be torn between loyalty to their employer and the need to look after themselves. If you’re thinking about making a work accident claim, it’s hard to know where to turn and how to approach things in the right way so that all parties are happy to get a claim resolved. Knowing your legal rights, where you stand and what your employer’s responsibilities are, will help you both to see everything more clearly and avoid misunderstandings.
Table of contents
- I was injured at work, what are my rights?
- Do I get paid if I’m injured at work?
- Am I entitled to compensation?
- Employer pressure – threats are against the law
- Work injury claim examples – questions and answers
I was injured at work, what are my rights?
You have the same legal rights whether you have been injured at work, are suffering from a work-related illness, or a condition such as carpal tunnel syndrome, for example. It is important for you to understand your rights so that you can confidently manage your recovery and working future. It doesn’t matter who you work for or what you do, from offices to construction sites and private care homes to the NHS, whether you’re a temp working for an agency, full-time staff or self-employed, below is a basic plan of action you should try to follow:
If an employer attempts to prevent you from seeking medical attention, they are in breach of the law and acting completely improperly. Most workplaces will have a designated first aid officer in the event of an injury. You should see this person but also make sure that you either visit your GP or local A&E department. Similarly, for an illness you should first visit your GP.
Record the details
If you’re suffering from a work-related illness, ensure your employer has written notification of this. If you’re injured at work, you should record the details within your employer’s accident book. Make sure you state the details and that you do not sign any record that does not match your version of the events. If you haven’t done this already, don’t worry, we can help you to do so.
Confirm your sick pay
All employees are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they do not get full sickness pay. Although SSP is far from a living wage, it could be enough to help you get by. Make sure that your employer has registered you for SSP. If you are unsure, you should contact your local benefits office.
Attend medical appointments
If you are back at work but still receiving outpatient treatments for your injuries, such as physiotherapy or check-ups with a consultant, your employer MUST release you to attend the same.
Take time to recover
Taking time away from the workplace to aid your recovery will not only benefit you by reducing the length of time that you are injured, but also benefit your employer by enabling you to return to full duties at the earliest opportunity. If your employer is pressuring you to return to work if you want to keep your job, you should seek legal advice regarding this issue. An unfit employee is a dangerous employee and not only will you be risking your own health by rushing back to work, but you could also be risking the health of your colleagues.
Seek light duties
Removing you for a time from the situation causing the problem can often help. This would apply to psychological injuries, such as stress, as well as physical injuries. If your usual work involves aspects of hard physical labour such as heavy lifting, carrying, climbing or standing for long periods, your employer is duty bound to accommodate you (where possible) in returning to work on lighter duties whilst you complete your recovery. It could be that you usually work in a heavy lifting capacity but that a back injury will prevent you from doing that for sometime. Therefore, if your employer can accommodate you within an office for a few weeks on lighter duties, you can return to work and continue to earn your usual salary.
Claim injury at work compensation
It is your right to seek work injury compensation for your pain and discomfort, and also to recover losses (such as lost income) should you be out of pocket.
You can make a personal injury claim if you suffer an injury or illness at work that is a result of your employer’s negligence. They have a legal responsibility to ensure a safe and secure working environment for staff and prevent foreseeable injuries, both physical and psychological.
A successful personal injury claim will ultimately see a claimant recover a settlement for their injuries, ongoing treatment and also for their special damages, which covers financial losses such as missed salaries.
Do I get paid if I’m injured at work?
In most cases, the answer here is yes. The details, however, will depend on the situation and the contract you have with your employer.
Not all employees will receive full pay if on sick leave from work, commonly your employer will put you on Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). Some employers may even have a scheme in place that offers a more generous arrangement. If your employer has no such policy, it’s important to remember that you have the right to more than just sick pay.
Knowing your rights is key – and the good news is that the law is straightforward. If you’ve been badly injured in a workplace accident that wasn’t your fault, you should be treated fairly and allowed to claim for compensation to cover your costs and losses. Depending on your specific situation, you can claim for loss of earnings, treatment for your injuries and any other associated costs. We’ll be able to advise you on exactly what compensation you should be due.
This applies regardless of your employment status at the time of the accident, whether it be full-time, part-time, self-employed or on a zero-hours contract. If the injury occurred in the workplace – or while you were working for an employer in an off-site location – it’s likely you’ll have the right to claim.
Am I entitled to compensation?
Just because you have been injured at work, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be entitled to make a claim for personal injury compensation. Your employer must be at fault. In most cases, it is relatively easy for us to evaluate the likely outcome of a claim. We’ll work out if it can be proven your employer was liable for your injury, failed in their duty of care, and therefore responsible for compensating you for your injuries and any other losses that you may incur.
Every injury has its own unique circumstances, and no two are the same. Therefore, it is vital you seek proper advice so that you know whether or not you have a viable claim. However, there are some basic pointers that can help you identify where you stand regarding the strength of a claim or otherwise.
Areas of employer liability
- Did your employer ever give you any training? (this could relate to manual handling training, specific training to use certain machinery or other job relevant training). If the answer is no, your employer has breached health and safety guidance already.
- Were you given an induction to the workplace? This would include guidance on accident management protocols, safety exits, hazard avoidance etc.
- Were you provided with, or advised what personal safety and protective equipment you should have to complete your job safely? If the answer is no, your employer could be liable for your injury.
- Did your employer allow you to work with faulty equipment? Did they ensure that safety guards and mechanisms worked?
- Were you advised how to report injuries and how to access the accident book?
- Did the employer ensure correct staffing levels and an adequate amount of first aid trained staff?
- Was your environment safe? Was it free of hazards that could lead to a slip, trip or fall at work?
- Did your employer act upon reports of potential risks of danger to employees?
Employer pressure – threats are against the law
A very common worry for people is how making a claim will affect their employer. This fear can be played upon, and we understand that you may be placed under pressure by your employer NOT to pursue a claim for personal injury compensation.
Employers that are liable on grounds of negligence for injuries sustained in the workplace have no right whatsoever to prevent an employee from pursuing a claim.
Indeed, the law recognises this and protects your rights in the following ways:
- It is illegal for your employer to sack you if a claim is made or being considered, and if they do you may have a case for unfair dismissal.
- Similarly, if employer threats or other pressures force you to leave your job, you may have a case for constructive dismissal.
In such circumstances, you should seek advice from a solicitor or your local citizens advice bureau.
Clearly, the decision as to whether or not to pursue a claim rests with the injured employee. If the injuries are minor, will cause no long-term problems, and the employee can still work and therefore not lose wages, they may well decide that they do not wish to pursue a claim for compensation. However, where the injuries are more serious and an inability to work follows, making a claim for compensation really is the only option, and a right, for most people.