If you injure yourself at work there are some basic principles to consider before deciding to raise a claim for personal injury from your employer. For starters, your employer has certain obligations to you; ensuring all equipment used in the course of your working day is in good condition and safe ensuring the environment you work in is as safe as possible and any risk of danger are constantly assessed and steps taken to avoid harm. Employers are essentially charged with ensuring your safety to the best of their ability when you are working for them.
For a successful claim of personal injury there should be, at the very minimum the following:
1) You were injured, whilst undertaking your duties for your employer
2) This injury has caused you to suffer loss
Some Points to note
Claims for compensation are more prevalent than you may imagine but they are not meant to be a money making exercise. Instead they serve to put you back in the position you would have been had the accident not happened. For example give you pay for time off or to cover any extra medical bills.
If you are injured at work and do require time off you will generally only have the right to statutory sick pay, unless there are specific mechanisms in place that allow for longer and fully supported time off work. See here and here for more details
The time limit for raising a claim for compensation is on the whole three years from the time of accident. However, work related illnesses are generally three years from diagnosis.
The most typical claims for injury in the workplace are: Being struck by an object, Accidents from trying to lift objects, falling from a height and trips, slips and falls. Other types of claim can be from work-related illnesses such as asbestos related illness.
What to do first
The first thing to do is take a note of all of the details surrounding your injury. Take as many as possible because it can sometimes be a while before claims a settled and the better your recollection the better chance you will have of succeeding. Included in these notes should also be any and all witnesses, their accounts too if possible and notes of any log in your employer’s accident book.
Your employer must record all injuries at work, regardless of how serious they are, the only caveat being that some very small companies may not have to keep this form of log. However, on the whole this should be adhered to strictly by the employer, for the benefit of the employees as well as the employer. It provides both parties with details on what happened in case you need tie off work or need to claim for compensation later on.
You have decided to make a claim – What Next?
The first thing to do is to get legal representation. If you are a member of a Trade Union it may be possible to use their legal services instead. There are a large number of legal firms who specialise in dealing with personal injury claims. Simply typing “personal injury” into Google brings up pages of firms wanting your business. These range from the national companies who only deal with these types of claims, such as National Accident Helpline, Claims Direct, Injury Lawyers 4U and so on.
There are also a lot of other law firms with excellent reputations in this field. For Scotland some good firms are: Brodies, Irwin Mitchell, Digby Brown, Lawford Kidd, Dallas McMillan and Thompsons (Scotland). Most of these firms offer services such as no win no fee which can be of tremendous help if you do not qualify for Legal Aid. In England and Wales there are: Thompsons, Fentons, Irwin Mitchell, and Duncan Gibbins Solicitors.
As soon as you have appointed legal counsel, they will give you a clear indication of how likely to succeed your claim will be and what type of compensation to expect. They will also take all of the workload off of your hands and will begin to process of making your claim and start negotiations to get you the best possible settlement.
It is worth noting that where possible it is preferable to avoid litigation and sort these things with your employer however, there wouldn’t be so many firms clambering for business if things were that straightforward. Do keep in mind if you are working with the same company that you should not embellish any actions and act honestly and professionally throughout.
Thanks to Jerry Oldwell for this guest post. Jerry specialises in compensation claims for injuries obtained in the workplace. To find out more, visit www.workplaceclaim.co.uk and find out how you can make a claim.