Employers have the moral (and, in some cases, legal) duty to inform their workers about potential health safety threats and protect them from any kind of accident that may happen as a result of their job. If one of their employees has been the victim of a workplace incident, the employer is required to bring the situation forward to the authorities and pay sick leave to the employee in question.
Each year, around 1.8 million employees have suffered a work-related injury or illness in the United Kingdom alone, resulting in no less than 38 million workdays lost due to the need for recovery. These accidents can happen due to a variety of reasons, such as lack of or incorrect training, working with faulty equipment, or being involved in a slip and fall accident.
What few employees know, however, is that they are entitled to compensation if the accident has resulted due to the employer’s fault. That, of course, if the employee reports the incident and files a claim. Because they are not sure if the accident qualifies them to receive compensation, many employees don’t bother to even talk to a lawyer about their case.
If you have been involved in a workplace accident and you don’t know if and how to file for compensation, we are here to help. Below are a few questions to help you understand more about workplace accidents and compensation claims, so make sure you read them if you find yourself in a situation where you don’t know if you should or should not file a claim.
What exactly is a workplace accident?
Any form of accident that occurs in the workplace due to the employer’s negligence and results in an employee getting injured qualifies as a workplace accident. Any action or inaction on the employer’s part that has an impact on workplace safety qualifies makes the employer directly responsible for the accident. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Not providing proper training to employees,
- Allowing employees without training to operate heavy machinery,
- Not repairing any faulty machinery, despite the issue being brought to the employer’s attention,
- Failing to comply with Health and Safety regulations.
Examples of workplace accidents can be separated into two categories:
- One-time events: slip and fall accidents, assault in the workplace, faulty machinery, exposure to toxic environments, getting hurt by a falling object.
- Repeated exposure: back pain from lifting heavy objects without being provided with proper equipment, tinnitus or loss of hearing due to prolonged exposure to noise, respiratory issues due to continuous exposure to toxic fumes or substances.
What type of expenses can be included in a compensation claim?
A workplace accident can have far-reaching consequences for the victim. Aside from injuries and physical discomfort, the person may face serious financial consequences as a result of their inability to continue working or the necessity for extended rehabilitation periods. This is why compensation claims extend to more than just medical expenses.
An employee that has suffered a workplace injury can receive compensation for:
- General damage: compensation that covers a person’s physical injuries, mental anguish, or a decrease in life quality.
- Special damage: this covers financial losses caused by the accident, such as physical and mental rehabilitation costs, home adaptation, prescriptions, and physical therapy.
- Loss of earnings: unpaid sick leave for the duration of the recovery period, financial aid to cover lack of (or decrease in) earnings due to the injury sustained.
- Travel expenses: flight tickets, fuel costs, or any form of expenses associated with traveling in order to receive appropriate treatment.
- Caretaker expenses: if the victim is required to receive help from a caretaker due to their injury, the employer can be compelled to pay for it.
How much compensation should I expect to receive?
The amount of compensation a victim can receive if they have sustained a workplace injury will vary from case to case, depending on various factors. When determining compensation value, aspects such as the severity of the accident, the duration of the treatment, and financial losses are taken into account.
The easiest way to get a better perspective on how much compensation you are entitled to be to use a compensation calculator that takes into account multiple aspects of your accident. While these numbers are not fixed, here’s what to expect for some of the most common types of injuries that happen due to workplace incidents in the United Kingdom:
- Head injuries that have not resulted in brain damage – up to £36,000
- Ear injuries that cause loss of hearing – up to £93,000
- The back injury that does not cause a disability – up to £33,000
- Forearm injury that results in a fracture – up to £15,000
- The knee injury that causes minor disability – up to £22,000
Is there a limited timeframe to file a compensation claim?
In the United Kingdom, any victim that suffered a workplace accident and wants to file for compensation needs to do so within a three-year timeframe. Most of the time, if you fail to make a claim within this timeframe, any further attempts to receive compensation will be denied.
The period can, however, be extended due to some extenuating circumstances that often involve the mental state of the victim.
How do I make a compensation claim?
To make a compensation claim, the first thing it is advised to do is to find a good lawyer that specializes in workplace injury claims. You can, in theory, file for compensation yourself, but your chances of success will be much lower, as most companies have lawyers that know how to twist the events in favor of the employer. It is their job, after all, so the only way to avoid this is by hiring a legal professional to represent you and make sure you get the type of cover you are entitled to.
In terms of what your lawyer may require, it depends on the particularities of the case. This will, almost always, ask for the following:
- Personal information of the victim
- A detailed explanation of what led to the accident
- Medical documentation that reveals the injuries sustained
- Information about your employer
- Details on what causes you to believe the employer was at fault for the accident