1. Employers owe all employees a ‘Duty of Care’
All employers have a duty of care to their employees, which means that they should take all steps which are reasonably possible to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of their employees. Put simply they have a duty not to cause, or fail to do what they reasonably can do to prevent physical or psychological injury.This duty of care applies even if the employee does an inherently dangerous job. For instance, just because the police, firefighters and even soldiers perform jobs that expose them to more dangers than the average job, it doesn’t mean that their employers are absolved of the duty to do what’s reasonable to reduce the risk of them getting injured whilst performing their jobs.
2. Employer’s responsibility to record accidents
Recording and reporting accidents and ill health at work is a legal requirement under The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR). The facts that need to be recorded include:
- the date when the report is made
- the method of reporting
- the date, time and place of the event
- personal details of those involved
- a brief description of the nature of the event or disease.
If an employee has been injured at work, seen another colleague injured or has seen a dangerous incident that could have resulted in a serious injury, they should inform their employer or the person in charge as it is their responsibility to record it.
3. Employees have the right to claim
Whilst it is never an easy decision to make a claim for compensation against your employer if you have suffered an accident at work (which your employer was responsible for), you have the right to claim against your employer. It is illegal for your employer to dismiss you for bringing a claim against them.
4. Employers’ duty to have insurance cover in place for accidents that happen at work
The Employer’s Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969 requires most employers to insure against liability for injury or disease to their employees arising out of their employment. Exemptions include some businesses that only employ close family members or workers who live abroad. Employers’ liability insurance will enable your employer to meet the cost of any compensation claims. Therefore, your compensation will not be paid directly from your employers’ bank account.
5. You need to prove it was your employers’ fault
Just because you suffer an accident at work it does not automatically mean that you will be entitled to compensation. Your employer must be at fault in some way for your accident. If your employer does not admit that it was their fault for your accident, you will need to prove to a court that it was. This is because it is the person who is claiming compensation’s duty to prove their case.
6. What compensation will your employer be required to pay you?
If you are able to prove that you have suffered an injury at work that was your employer’s fault, your employer will be required to pay you compensation. You will receive an amount of compensation for the injury itself, referred to as compensation for pain, suffering, and loss of amenity, referred to as PSLA. You will also receive compensation for other losses that you would not have otherwise suffered were it not for the accident, including the following:
- any wages that you have lost or are continuing to lose as a result of not being able to work;
- any expenses that you have incurred, such as the cost of private medical treatment, the cost of taxis to and from medical appointments;
- any loss to your pension suffered as a result of the accident;
7. You should not accept the offer before seeking legal advice
Your employer or their insurer may be trying to save themselves money by making you a low offer knowing that if you pursue a claim against them they might have to pay you a lot more. Solicitors are experienced at forming an initial assessment of the value of a claim and will be able to discuss with you the merits of accepting or rejecting the offer. If the advice is to reject the offer and pursue a claim against your employer the solicitor will work hard to ensure that you get the compensation that you deserve.
8. How long do cases take?
It is very difficult to predict how long a personal injury claim will take. Much depends on the medical situation and the attitude taken by the employer, for example, whether or not liability is admitted by the employer and whether court proceedings become necessary. Even if liability is admitted, if your medical prognosis is uncertain your solicitor will most likely encourage you to wait until the prognosis becomes clear as your prognosis affects the value of the claim. In my experience personal injury claims last between nine months to three years but in some cases can take longer.
9. There are strict time limits to bringing a claim
There are strict time limits for bringing a claim. You have three years from the date of your accident, or three years from the date that you became aware that you suffered an injury as a result of your employment (usually applicable to industrial disease cases, for instance, where a worker suffers a lung diseases as a result of their employment but the symptoms do not come out immediately) to start court proceedings. However, this does not mean that the case must be concluded within three years. It just means that if you cannot settle your claim within three years of the date of the accident or date of knowledge, then you need to start court proceedings.Having said this it is always best to instruct a solicitor as far in advance of the end of this three year period as possible. This is because it will give your solicitor time to prepare your case in advance and it will also help you to increase the chances of the case not ending up in court as there will be more time to settle the case.
10. Not all cases end up in court
A lot of people are put off claiming because they are worried about having to attend court. However, the vast majority of cases settle out of court. In my experience, 95% of cases settle out of court. In fact, the court system is set up to encourage people not to go to court to settle claims. There are plenty of opportunities to settle cases during the lifetime of a case.Even if court proceedings are started, it still does not mean that your cases will definitely end up in court. It just means the start of a court process involving the exchange of evidence between the parties. There are still plenty of opportunities to settle your case even after the court process is started.
Whereas any lawyer worth their salt should prepare your case as if it is going to go to court, your lawyer will only be doing this in order to do a thorough job and so as to ensure that your case is not underprepared in the event that you do have to go to court.
Nikolai Llewellyn specialises in high value accident and workplace injury compensation claims, with a particular focus on assaults in the workplace. He has represented numerous clients, particularity NHS workers, following assaults during their employment. He also gives lectures on the subject.