Do I have a work injury claim?
While you are at work, your employer has a legal responsibility to keep you safe and to conform to various health and safety standards. Your employer also has a duty to carry out a risk assessment and put safety measures in place to minimise the risk of an accident occurring.
If your employer failed to meet its obligations and this failure led to an accident at work, you may be able to claim compensation for your injuries.
The following will help you understand whether you have a right to claim. The best way to know for certain whether you have a claim and how likely you are to win is to discuss your circumstances with a specialist work accident solicitor.
When can I make an accident at work claim?
You may be able to make a claim whenever you are injured at work, if your injury happened because of your employers negligent actions, or their negligent failure to act. Examples of compensateable workplace accidents, hazards and injuries include:
- A slip or trip accident because the workplace was poorly maintained or left in an untidy or unsafe condition
- Falls from height
- Injury caused by dangerous machinery, for example, machines that are not fitted with the proper safety guards
- Injury caused by defective or poorly maintained equipment
- Falling objects, such as improperly-stored warehouse contents
- Chemical spills
- Exposure to dust, fumes or toxic substances
- Accidents arising because staff were not fully trained to do their job safely
- Accidents while operating dangerous vehicles such as a crane or forklift
- Injuries caused by the lack of the proper protective equipment such as hard hats, goggles or ear protectors
- Injuries caused by poor lifting and manual handling practices
- Industrial diseases such as asbestosis, industrial deafness, vibration white finger and occupational cancers
- A breach of a specific health and safety regulation
This list is not exhaustive. If you have suffered any injury or illness in the workplace, contact a solicitor to discuss your options and to find out whether you may have a claim.
How do I know if my employer caused the accident?
For your claim to be successful, your solicitor must be able to prove that your employer was legally responsible for the accident, and that your injuries resulted from the accident.
Often, "blame" or legal responsibility is straightforward. For example, an employer will almost always be negligent if you slip on grease, water or chemicals that have been spilled on the floor and not reported and cleared away in a reasonable timeframe. It is an employer's responsibility to conduct regular safety inspections and to clean up spills and other hazards in good time.
The situation is not always clear cut. Many workplace accidents occur because an employer failed to do something that could have prevented or reduced the injury risk of the hazard that caused the accident. Failure to ensure a staircase is well-lit, failure to fit suitable safety guards to dangerous equipment or failure to provide protective gloves or goggles are all examples of this failure to act.
Employers are expected to carry out regular inspections to ensure the workplace meets current safety standards. Failure to carry out these checks is likely to be evidence of an employer's negligence in the event of an accident.
It is no defence for your employer to say that they were following a "tried-and-tested" operating procedure if that procedure is inherently unsafe and/or breaches health and safety regulations.
Even if it is not clear who caused the accident, your solicitor will work with you to establish the facts and present the case convincingly.
What if I am a casual worker?
If you are a casual worker or self-employed, you may still have the same right to make a claim as any other employee.
A personal injury lawyer will be able to determine your employment status and discuss your options with you in more detail.