If you’re suffered a workplace injury, the prospect of claiming compensation from your employer for any medical expenses you’ve incurred along with such things as the loss of earnings you incurred while away from work recuperating or being treated can be very daunting.
The physical, emotional and financial costs of suffering a workplace injury can be significant and life-changing though. You cannot be expected to bear that cost, particularly when your employer has a duty to protect you when you are working for them per the Health and Safety At Work Act 1974. This includes protecting you from physical harm as well as protecting your mental health. Your employer is also liable if you are assaulted, harassed or bullied while working for them too, although these cases can be very difficult to prove.
In the first instance, you should speak to your employer informally and see if it is possible to resolve the matter amicably by them covering any costs you have incurred. On this, as Citizens Advice rightly points out, depending upon the details of your Contract of Employment, you may be entitled to full contractual sick pay to cover any loss of earnings while you are away from work due to injury too.
However, if you have suffered any kind of workplace injury and your employer is unwilling to cover the costs, you should consider making a claim.
Before making a claim…
You should do the following;
- Make a note of exactly what happened. For example, the time, date and place that the injury occurred. If the claim is as a result of you suffering an industrial injury that became apparent over time, such as Repetitive Strain Injury or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, we realise it can be difficult to remember the exact dates you started to use machinery or other equipment that caused the injury. In this situation, do your best to remember the approximate dates – month and year, for example. Furthermore, make a note of anyone who witnessed you suffering the injury and ensure you have contact details for them. On this, it is a good idea to have a personal telephone number or email address for them rather than their work contact details.
- Collect as much evidence as you can. For example, photographs of the hazard that caused the injury and how the scene looked at the time, as well as photographs of any physical injuries you sustained. This is particularly pertinent if you have slipped on a wet floor and no warning signage had not been put out, for example.
- Visit your GP as soon as you can after sustaining the injury – not only can they treat your injury or refer you to a specialist if needed if the care needed is non-urgent, but they can also record the details of your injury and the severity of it in your medical records. Of course, if you need urgent care after suffering a workplace injury, you should visit A&E, where the details and severity of your injury would also be recorded.
It is also important to check your Contract of Employment before making a claim too, as it should contain a section on workplace disputes and the company’s policy for resolving them. We highlight this, as your employer may argue that any claims you look to make as a result of a workplace injury would constitute a ‘dispute’. For example, it may be that your employer’s policy is that any disputes have to be resolved through mandatory arbitration. You should seek legal advice before making any workplace injury claim, but, if arbitration is mandated, it is particularly important that you seek legal advice before entering arbitration, as the result of an arbitration hearing is legally binding and it is unlikely that you would be able to appeal the decision.
How we can help
At The Compensation Experts, we work with specialist legal firms who have a proven track record in successful workplace injury compensation claims. Initially, one of our advisors with have a chat with you, asking you for the details of how you came to be injured. Once this is done, they will advise you whether you may have grounds for a successful claim. As a part of this, we might also obtain medical and industry expert reports to help determine the strength of your case. This is all done on a free no-obligation basis. If it is felt you may have a successful claim, we will then match you with the firm who best suits the circumstances of your case.
What your solicitor will do
If you do then decide to proceed with a case against your employer, the solicitor working on your case will contact any witnesses and will collect as much evidence from you and other sources as possible. This is to help them build the strongest possible case to support your claim. Any witnesses should not be concerned about having to speak out publicly though, as it may be that the other evidence is enough to prove the case.
This evidence and any witness statements will be used not only to prove your entitlement to compensation but also to show how you have been affected physically, emotionally and financially as a result of being injured in the workplace. In turn, this will mean the amount you receive is fair and reflects the severity of the injury you sustained. It should also be said that the majority of workplace injury claims are usually settled without the need to go to court too.
How your employer will respond
Once they has looked through the details of your case and carried out their investigation, your employer’s insurance company will either make a compensation offer or will deny that they are liable. You should be aware that offers at this stage are usually lower than they should be. The solicitor’s role is to advise you how good the offer is and if you choose not to accept it, negotiate with the other side to arrive at an acceptable level of compensation.
If the employer refuses to accept liability or you can’t agree on an acceptable amount of compensation, your solicitor may recommend you submit your claim to court. This action needs to be taken within three years of the date of the injury being suffered or when your symptoms were linked to your job. Negotiations will continue even when a court date has been set, and it is not uncommon for an agreement to be reached hours before a claim is due to be heard in court.
How workplace injury compensation is decided
Levels of compensation decided by the courts are not plucked out of thin air either. They are calculated by looking at General and Special Damages;
- General Damages consider the physical and psychological wounds you have suffered, as well as what the likelihood of recovery is. Additionally, General Damages would also include the wages you have lost while recovering from the injury.
- Special Damages, meanwhile, consider any financial expense caused by your injury, including the cost of prescriptions, private medical care and any additional nursing or care support you have needed. You will need to prove you have incurred these costs though, so make sure you keep all your receipts. If you are not sure whether an expense is covered under Special Damages, ask your solicitor before spending the money. In addition, Special Damages may also include compensation for future lost earnings if the injury is so severe you are unable to continue working in the same role.
According to the latest figures for 2018/19 released by the Health and Safety Executive late last year, 1.4 million working people in the UK are suffering from a work-related illness, with 69,208 injuries to employees being reported in the last year. Clearly then, workplace accidents and industrial injuries are unfortunately far more commonplace than they should be. This means we and the legal firms we work with have a lot of experience in these cases and so, are well-placed to help you get the maximum amount of compensation.