How much compensation can you claim for a foot injury at work?

According to the most recent statistics available from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) more than 4,150 people reported a work related foot injury in 2014/15. In addition there were over 1,000 toe and 5,777 ankle injuries.

Foot injuries may be divided into those that are caused by accidents, such as bone fractures, damage to tendons and ligaments, and burns, and injuries that are the result of occupational issues such as standing for long periods or wearing heavy duty protective footwear.

If your foot injury is due to your employer’s negligence you may be able to claim compensation for your pain and suffering and for any financial losses incurred due to your injury.

Causes of foot injuries in the workplace

There are various situations in which an employee may sustain an injury to his foot if the correct health and safety procedures are not in place or being followed.

For example a slip or trip at work or a fall from height may result in breaks or sprains to the talus (ankle). Accidents such as these may occur because:

•    Someone had failed to mop up a spillage; 
•    The flooring was uneven
•    There was rubbish in the walkway
•    The handrail on the stairs was loose or missing
•    There were cables across the floor

Impact from falling objects or collisions with machinery may cause injuries to the calcaneus (heel), talus (ankle), metatarsals (above the toes) or the toe bones. Some of these impact injuries may be prevented by wearing safety boots, which should be provided by your employer. 

Ligaments and tendons may be damaged as a consequence of the bone injury, but also in accidents involving falls from heights.

An employee may sustain burns to his foot, either from machinery or products that have overheated, or chemical burns from spillages.

Some foot injuries may result in the foot being permanently deformed, or treatment may require the bones to be surgically fused. This may leave the Claimant with a permanent disability. In severe cases it is sometimes necessary to amputate the foot.

Occupational injuries to the feet

The health of an employee’s feet may deteriorate over a period of time if his work involves standing for long periods. The wearing of heavy duty shoes or boots may also impact on the employee’s foot health.

Commonly, an employee may sustain: 

  • Inflammation of the fluid filled sacs that protect the toe joints (bursitis of the toes)
  • Compression of the nerve behind the inner anklebone (Tarsal tunnel syndrome), which causes ankle pain and a burning sensation, numbness and tingling on the sole of the foot. This condition is aggravated by prolonged standing or walking, worsening as the day progresses.
  • Tinea pedis - Fungal infections such as athlete’s foot. 

How will your foot injury claim be assessed?

It is important to firstly establish that you have a claim to bring against your employer

For your claim to be successful, you will need to demonstrate that your employer failed in his duty to ensure your health, safety and welfare at work was protected, and that your injuries are a result of that negligence.

For example, if a claimant's toes were crushed by an object that fell on their foot because it was not secured to a pallet being lifted in a warehouse, then the employer may be found liable for not ensuring that the object was secure, or for not training staff in the correct lifting of products on pallets.

However, if a claimant was not wearing the safety boots that they had been provided with, the Court may decide that the injuries would have been less severe if the claimant had worn the boots and may deduct a percentage of the claimant's compensation award for their “contributory negligence”.

Your solicitor will arrange for you to attend an independent medical examination with a specialist doctor who will assess your injuries and their likely impact on your life. The Court will use this medical report to calculate the level of compensation you may be entitled to claim.

How the compensation for a foot injury is calculated

The sum awarded will be in two parts; general damages for your pain and suffering and special damages to recover any financial losses.

The amount awarded for general damages will reflect the seriousness and nature of your foot injuries and takes into account guidelines and awards made for similar cases.

Special damages are to compensate for losses and costs both now and in the future and include:

  • Loss of any earnings
  • Cost of any treatment
  • Cost of care
  • Expenses for any equipment needed or improvements to accessibility in the home
  • Any travel costs associated with the injury – such as transport to attend medical appointments.

You may need to provide evidence such as pay slips and receipts to support a claim for these financial losses.