How does No Win, No Fee work if I make a claim for an accident at work?
If you have been injured in an accident at work and the accident was a result of negligence by your employer, you may be entitled to bring a claim for compensation for your losses.
Since the ability for claimants to access Legal Aid funding for personal injury claims was stopped 2000, many legitimate claimants could feel that they were unable to afford to bring a matter to court without a No Win, No Fee guarantee, or simply could not take the risk of losing a legal battle.
However, a fundamental principle of English law is that everyone, regardless of their economic status, should have equal access to justice. For this reason, 'success fees' were introduced. The 'success fee' arrangement allows solicitors to take on cases that may or may not succeed. They risk not being paid at all in some cases, and this risk is offset by being paid a success fee for the cases that are successful.
When you start a claim, you will usually sign a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) or "No Win, No Fee" agreement. The CFA states that the solicitor’s success fee is paid from the compensation you are awarded if your claim is successful. It is usually a percentage (agreed beforehand) of the total compensation amount. 25% of the total amount is the maximum allowed by law for most personal injury claims.
Will a solicitor take on your claim?
As the solicitor is the one taking the financial risk, he will need to know all the details of your accident and the injuries you have sustained. He will ask a number of questions in order to assess your case and confirm whether a No Win No Fee agreement is the right way to make your claim.
Demonstrating that your employer was negligent and therefore liable for your accident is key to bringing a successful claim.
Although the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 states that employers should protect employees’ 'health, safety and welfare' at work, it also adds "as far as is reasonably practicable".
For example, if you had been asked to climb a ladder to access a roof and this was a normal part of your job, the ladder should have been in good order, you should have had safety training, and should have been issued with personal protection equipment (PPE) such as a hard hat to protect your head.
However the ladder was faulty and unstable and you fell from a height, sustaining a number of injuries.
- If you had not carried out a pre-use check beforehand, to make sure the ladder was safe for use, you may be found partly liable for the accident. But if you had not had adequate safety training, and did not know that ladders should always be checked, then your employer may be found negligent for failing to train you properly.
- If you sustained head injuries in a fall from a ladder because you were not wearing a hard hat, the employer may be found negligent if he had not issued you with the head protection, but you may be found to have contributed to your own injuries if you had forgotten to wear it.
The defendant (your employer) may try to argue that you were partly responsible for the accident in order to reduce the amount of compensation you are awarded. It may be still worth bringing a claim as the court may only deduct a percentage of the award for the 'contributory negligence'.
Who pays the award?
By law, all organisations are required to have Employers’ Liability Insurance in place, so any claim for compensation would be paid by the insurer, providing it is satisfied that the employer was responsible for the claimant’s injuries.
If the insurer believes that the employer has failed to meet its legal responsibilities for the health and safety of its employees, the policy may enable the insurer to reclaim the cost of compensation from the employer.
When is the success fee paid?
The success fee is paid by the claimant once the case is concluded and the compensation award is settled. It is usually automatically deducted from the amount paid to the claimant in advance.