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Employers have a legal duty to provide their employees with safe tools, safe equipment and a safe place to work. They are also responsible for providing adequate training and supervision where appropriate. If an employee does not do this, and their omission results in injury, then it may be possible to bring an accident at work compensation claim.
Types of accident at work claims
In 2016/6, around 621,000 workers sustained an injury in the workplace according to the Health and Safety Executive. Accidents are divided roughly into the following categories:
- Slips, trips and falls
- Falls from height
- Accidents caused by unsafe or unsuitable equipment
- Accidents caused by defective, unguarded or poorly maintained machinery
- Inadequate protective equipment such as face masks, goggles, headgear and gloves
- Falling object accidents
- Accidents caused by breach of specific health and safety regulations
- Accidents involving hazardous substances e.g. chemical burns and exposure to noxious fumes
- Vehicle accidents such as those involving a forklift truck or crane
- Accidents caused by lifting and carrying awkward loads, known as manual handling accidents
- Accidents that result from a lack of training or supervision
- Chronic conditions such as repetitive strain injuries or vibration white finger.
Despite the wide variety of circumstances across many jobs and industries, accidents at work have one thing in common; they are usually the result of a failure on the part of an employer to comply with their duty to ensure that the working environment is safe. Negligence must be proved with evidence against the employer for an accident at work claim to succeed.
How do I know if the employer is responsible for an accident at work claim?
Whether the employer is negligent depends on the facts of the case. It is important to appoint a specialist accident at work claims solicitor who can assemble all the evidence and put together a compelling case.
Often, an accident at work occurs due to the actions or negligence of another employee, for example, a worker might injure their fellow co-worker while driving a forklift truck. The compensation claim would still arise against the employer who is vicariously liable for the actions of all their employees.
Employers are also required hold insurance to cover any accident at work claims that are made by an injured employee. The insurer will pay any compensation awarded against the employer.
What if I contributed to the accident at work?
In most cases, it will be possible to make a claim for compensation even if the injured worker contributed to his own injuries in some way. The compensation settlement or award would simply be reduced to reflect the part the injured person played in the accident. This is known as "contributory negligence."
Suppose, for example, that a construction worker is hit by bricks falling from overhead scaffolding. The worker forgot to wear his hard hat and sustained more serious head injuries than might have been expected had the worker been wearing suitable head protection. In this scenario, the Court may determine that the employer was the main instigator of the accident and liable to pay compensation. However, the worker contributed to his own injuries by 25%.
The Claimant's award would be reduced by 25% and he would receive 75% of his compensation.
How much are accident at work claims worth?
Compensation in accident at work claims is known as "damages," of which there are two types.
General damages compensate the Claimant for the pain and suffering associated with the injury. The level of damages depends on a variety of factors including the seriousness of the injury, the impact it has and the prognosis for recovery. When assessing general damages, solicitors and insurance companies will refer to case law, expert medical reports, and a set of compensation guidelines known as the Judicial College Guidelines.
Special damages cover the actual financial expenses incurred as a result of the accident at work. They include, but are not limited to, lost earnings and overtime, medical costs and travel expenses. If the injury is serious, special damages might also cover future loss of earnings, adaptations to the home and any ongoing personal care.
The best way to determine the value of your claim is to speak with a specialist accident at work claims solicitor. Most reputable solicitors will give you a free initial consultation to discuss your circumstances and figure out whether you have a claim.
Is there a time limit for accident at work claims?
Claims must usually be brought within three years of the accident, or the date you discover that your injuries were associated with a workplace accident, if this is later. This time limit is very strict. If a claim is not brought within three years, then it is very unlikely that you will be permitted to pursue a compensation claim.
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