How much compensation can you claim for a fall from height?

Falls from heights are the most common cause of workplace injury, accounting for around 80 major injuries and 230 moderate injuries each year.

Construction workers, electricians, roofers, window cleaners and tree surgeons are most at risk. In these and other industries, workers commonly fall from ladders and scaffolding that are not suitable from the job. Other incidents include falling from roofs, machines and open edges without a safety barrier such as such as a platform, pit or loading bay.

If you are injured after falling from height at work, then may be able to make a compensation claim. The amount of compensation you receive will depend on the type and seriousness of your injuries.

Is the employer responsible for your injuries?

The Work at Height Regulations 2005 are intended to safeguard everyone who has to work at height. "At height" covers everything from working on a scaffold to standing on a stepladder one metre above the ground.

Under the Regulations, employers must take reasonable steps to prevent their employees from falling. Where it is not possible to work from the ground, employers should carry out a risk assessment and put safety practices in place to reduce the risk of injury.

Appropriate safety measures might include:

  • Constructing a stable platform for working rather than relying on ladders
  • Using equipment that reduces the distance of a potential fall
  • Training staff for working at height
  • Providing personal protective equipment such as hard hats and safety harnesses
  • Ensuring that mobile platforms and scaffolding towers are only constructed by a competent person
  • Positioning ladders and stepladders to minimise stretching and reaching
  • Avoiding working at height where there is an additional risk of slipping, for example, in wet or icy weather.

Where protection is not in place and an employee falls, then the employer may be liable to pay compensation for the worker's injuries.

How is fall from height compensation calculated?

Compensation for pain and suffering is awarded on a sliding scale according to the type and extent of your injuries. It is not relevant whether you sustained the injuries in a fall or in any other type of accident; the critical factor is the seriousness of the injury.

Your solicitor will calculate an approximate settlement amount based on two factors - the severity of your injury as specified in a medical report and the value attributed to the injury by the Judicial College Guidelines.

The Guidelines are a type of tariff system that recommends a certain level of compensation for different kinds of injury. While not legally binding, the Guidelines are widely referred to by most solicitors when estimating the value of a personal injury claim.

What is the likely compensation amount?

The head, back, pelvis and legs are the most commonly injured systems after a fall from height. Injuries range from fractures and sprains to serious traumatic brain injury and organ damage.

The following will give you some idea of the likely compensation award for each type of injury:

  • Back injury recovering in 2 to 5 years: 6,000 pounds to 9,500 pounds
  • Back injury causing serious permanent symptoms: 21,100 pounds to 29,475 pounds
  • Neck injury involving fractures, dislocations or severe soft tissue damage leaving chronic permanent symptoms: 34,575 pounds to 42,550 pounds
  • Fractured forearms (between the elbow and the wrist): 5,000 pounds to 14,600 pounds
  • Hip or pelvis fractures needing surgery: 29,800 pounds to 39,900 pounds
  • Minor hip or pelvis soft tissue injury: Up to 3,000 pounds
  • Fractured femur (thigh bone): 6,925 pounds to 10,700 pounds
  • Moderate brain injury: 32,725 pounds to 166,500 pounds

You can also recover out-of-pocket expenses such as lost wages, travel expenses and the cost of medical treatment and mobility aids.