Understanding Your Rights After a Building Site Accident

Building site accidents happen frequently in the UK. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), 53,000 construction workers suffered non-fatal injuries from 2020/21 to 2022/23. There were 45 fatalities in the 2022/23 period, up from the five-year average of 37. There were unfortunately three fatalities among members of the public on building sites too. 

If you have experienced an accident on a building site as an employee or self-employed contractor, you may be entitled to compensation. 

Your rights after a building site accident 

If you experienced an injury on a building site that could have been prevented, you have certain legally-protected rights. 

However, the compensation and legal rights you’re entitled to as part of a construction accident claim vary depending on your circumstances. 

As an employee 

It’s your employer’s responsibility to make sure they follow health and safety regulations on site. They should also comply with the HSE’s Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015

Depending on the circumstances of the accident, you may have the right to claim compensation for your accident under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

If you need to take time off to recover, you might be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay or Universal Credit. Check your employment contract to see if you’re entitled to any additional pay or benefits during your absence. 

On a zero-hour contract 

Your employer is required to follow the same health and safety legislation to protect zero hour contract workers as they are with all other workers. As a result, you may be able to claim compensation under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. 

You should check your contract to see if you qualify for Statutory Sick Pay. You may also be able to claim for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) until you can return to work. 

As a self-employed contractor or subcontractor 

It is important that you speak to a professional to understand your rights here, as there are nuances to consider in relation to liability. As a self-employed person, you hold some responsibility for your own health and safety at work. But dependant on the location and specific circumstances of your work, there may also be some liability remaining with other parties. Depending on the circumstances of your accident, you may be able to claim for damages, recuperation, and loss of earnings. 

As a self-employed person, you may also be able to make a claim for Universal Credit and ESA.  

The process of claiming for a business site accident 

There is a set procedure in the UK for filing a compensation claim relating to a building site accident. 

After the accident 

When the accident happened, even if your injury seemed minor, your employer should have sought out or encouraged you to seek medical attention. This could involve contacting the doctor, visiting your local A&E department, or treating minor injuries at the scene using the relevant accident protocol.  

While this is important for your own health, it’s also important because your appointment with the doctor or visit to A&E is an official record of your injury. 

Reporting your accident 

Your company should have made an official log of the incident in their accident book or equivalent. This is further proof that the accident took place and it’s an important document for your construction accident compensation claim. 

For serious accidents that result in fractures, amputations or hospital treatment in general, your employer must report the incident to the Health & Safety Executive.  

This is so that they comply with the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) legislation. That report should include details of the accident including how it took place and the nature of the injuries you and others sustained. 

In some cases, the HSE may follow up a RIDDOR report with an investigation into where the accident happened. This could include a review of safety protocols when you were injured, interviews with you and other staff members, and a site inspection.  

A RIDDOR report or investigation is also very valuable as evidence in your claim against your employer, especially if the HSE finds shortcomings on their part. 

Gathering further evidence 

Right after the accident, it is advisable to take photographs of the hazard you believe was responsible for your injury, or that shows a lack of attention to health and safety. You may not be able to obtain photos later on, so try to do this straight away while the circumstances are fresh. 

Keep a record of any consultations, treatments, and diagnoses you’ve received from medical professionals. Also, keep a diary on how your injuries have affected your ability to work, your day-to-day life, and your sense of wellbeing. Both are powerful records that demonstrate the impact the injury has had on you. 

If you haven’t already, get in touch now with a solicitor’s firm that specialises in construction accident claims

Tell them about what happened and they’ll be able to give you a preliminary assessment on your chances of being awarded compensation. If they think you’ve got a case, they’ll start the claims process for you. 

What happens after you’ve made a construction accident claim? 

Your construction accident lawyer will handle the entire claims process for you, and will keep you informed along the way. Some typical milestones in a construction accident claim, according to the partner law firms we work alongside, are outlines below. 

If your employer accepts liability 

If your employer and their insurer accept liability, your solicitor then starts negotiating to agree a level of compensation. 

They want to reach a fair settlement for you – an amount of money that reflects the nature and severity of your injury, how it’s impacted your work life and daily life, and any financial losses you’ve experienced as a result. If you have to stop work altogether, the settlement might also reflect your future loss of wages too. 

Generally, the more severe your injury, or the greater its impact on your life, the more compensation you will receive. Your solicitor and your employer’s solicitor might use the Judicial College Guidelines, alongside their own lived experience of similar cases, to help value your claim. 

If you can’t reach agreement with your employer 

The vast majority of construction site accident claims are settled through negotiation. Sometimes though, negotiating liability becomes very complex, and in these cases your lawyer might advise you take the case to court. This is a very rare circumstance, and your legal team will guide you through the entire process, so it doesn’t need to be a daunting experience.  

If you are successful in claiming for a building site claim 

When the settlement has been agreed on, either through negotiations or the court, you then receive your compensation. It’s your solicitor’s job to make sure that payment arrives with you as quickly as possible. 

Your financial compensation is intended to help you recover any lost earnings due to your injury, and also to support you moving forwards; whether this be through private healthcare, rehabilitation or even retraining for a role if you are no longer able to remain in the same field of work.  

If you are not successful in your building site claim 

If you’re not successful with your building site accident claim request, your solicitor will advise you of the reason why and let you know if they believe you have grounds to appeal.  

Generally, your solicitor will only recommend an appeal if they believe the court was mistaken or new evidence comes to light. You may also have a limited timeframe to make an appeal, that your lawyer will discuss with you.  

They may also suggest an alternative dispute resolution if there are areas of dispute between you and your employer that were not covered during the negotiations or the court case.  

Just as if your claim had been successful, your rights as an employee are unaffected. UK law specifically forbids any unfavourable treatment against employees who have brought a compensation case against their employer. 

Solicitors for building site accidents 

If you want to start a construction accident claim, get in touch with The Compensation Experts. Speak with one of our advisors and tell them about the accident and the circumstances surrounding it. 

Our team will then introduce you to one of our hand-picked solicitors’ firms within our network. You’ll work with experienced lawyers with a track record of success when representing clients seeking compensation for building site accidents. 

Many of our partner firms work on a no-win, no-fee basis. That means that, if you don’t win your claim for compensation, the service costs you nothing. Typically, clients pay a fee of 25% (including VAT) of the compensation amount if their case is successful. This may vary depending on the team you are selected.

Start the process today. Please get in touch with us – we look forward to hearing from you. 

Building Site Accident Claims – Frequently Asked Questions 

What is a building site accident? 

A building site accident is an unplanned event that causes injury or death to an employee, contractor, visitor, or other person on a site where a new building is being constructed or an existing one altered or renovated. 

What are examples of building site accidents 

Common building site accidents include: 

  • Falls: Slips, trips, and falls caused by unstable working surfaces account for 26% of all construction site accidents. A further 19% of accidents are falls from height which are the leading cause of construction-related fatalities.  
  • Electrical: Proximity to power lines, poorly maintained equipment, and exposure to contact with live wires presents a great risk of electric shock to workers.  
  • Equipment and machinery: Without regular maintenance and proper training, equipment like power tools, fork lift trucks, bulldozers and cranes can be the cause of accidents. 
  • On-site objects: 12% of building site accidents are caused by being struck by a falling or a moving object.