How to make a workplace claim against your employer

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Deciding to raise a claim for compensation against your employer can seem like a daunting prospect. You may worry that your job could be at risk. You may worry about having to prove your case in Court. You may wonder if it is actually worth it. 

In cases where you believe that your accident and injury were caused through negligence, with the right legal team behind you, raising a claim for compensation can be a step towards getting you back on your feet and help to ease the financial burden. 

Let’s break it down into bitesize manageable chunks. 

Why do you want to claim compensation?

All employees have a legal right to be safe and protected at work. When an employer doesn’t ensure this and an accident follows you are legally able to claim for compensation. 

As an employee you have the right to – 

  • A full induction when you start at your place of work.
  • Adequate training.
  • Correct Personal Protective and Safety Equipment. 
  • For machines and equipment you are working on to be regularly serviced. 
  • To have adequate breaks, toilet and hand washing facilities and also clean drinking water.
  • To have access to First Aid treatment. 
  • To have any faults you raised with specific machines or equipment to be resolved in a timely manner. 

Even if you are partly to blame for the accident – For example, if the accident was your fault but you were working on a machine that had already been alerted to your employer with a potential fault. You may still be able to claim for compensation. With regards to accidents within the workplace, your rights are heavily protected. 

I’m worried if I claim compensation my job could be at risk?

This is a common worry for many employees, thankfully the law is on your side with this. Your employer is legally not able to dismiss you from your position for raising a claim for compensation. If they did proceed to do this then you would also have grounds for a constructive dismissal case. 

They are also not able to – 

  1. Demote you.
  2. Overlook you for a promotion.
  3. Bully or harass you.

How long do I have to raise a claim?

All claims for compensation need to be initially raised within three years from the date of the accident. Unless – 

  1. The victim does not have full mental capacity. 
  2. The victim is under the age of eighteen. In these cases they have until their twenty-first birthday to raise a claim. 

Does my employer have to accept liability for me to win?

All employers must have Employee Liability Insurance to cover them for such cases where a claim for compensation is made against them. Your employer accepting liability would more than likely shorten the time that the case takes to reach a settlement, you can still raise a claim even if they deny liability. You would then have to prove that they were negligent. 

How long does it take?

There is not one answer to this question. The length of time it can take varies from three months to two years and is dependent on several different factors. 

  • How cooperative each party is and whether a settlement can be reached out of Court. 
  • Whether your employer accepts liability. In cases where they do not accept liability the case is normally longer.  
  • Whether the Health & Safety Executive is prosecuting your employer. If they are then this case would normally need to be settled first before yours can then go ahead.

What is the process?

You would first need to contact your Solicitor or a Injury Claims specialist. Many of these work on a no win no fee basis. They would take all the details of the accident and subsequent injury from you and would advise you if you have a solid case, although they cannot guarantee that you will win or how much money you could achieve in the settlement.

They will take over all communication with your employer regarding the case. 

Following on from your statement they will then – 

  • Collect witness statements from anyone who was there when the accident happened. 
  • They would access the CCTV recordings if there were any at the site where the incident happened. 
  • They would obtain your medical records and a statement from your Doctor treating your injuries and your long term prognosis. If your injury is severe it may be worth waiting a while to settle your case until your prognosis is better understood. 
  • They may wish to visit the workplace. They may call upon Engineers or other experts to comment on issues surrounding faulty machines or equipment. 
  • They would also require statements from your employer and the Health & Safety Executive. 

If your employer accepts liability your legal team will work hard to try to settle your claim out of Court as this is the quickest route.

In cases where your employer does not accept liability or you do not agree with the settlement amount your Solicitor will then take your claim to Court. All of the witness statements, medical records, CCTV and expert statements will be used as evidence in the trial, the date of which is set by the Court.

How much compensation can I expect?

Again there is no one answer for this. As everyone’s circumstances, injuries and prognosis vary the amount each person will receive is different. Even two people with the same injury will have different needs. 

When a settlement is reached two points are taken into account. 

  • General Damages – This is an amount of money for your injury and also your pain and suffering. Pain and suffering can be both physical and psychological. 
  • Special Damages – This is intended to help you recoup money from your loss of earnings, any expenses you have had and to also help with your long term care needs, therapy and rehabilitation. 

Your Solicitor can apply for Interim Compensation Payments. These are payments that are made to you whilst the case is ongoing to help with your immediate care needs. 

So although it may seem daunting and you may be going into the case with no guarantee of winning, in cases where you believe that your accident and injury were caused through negligence, with the right legal team behind you, raising a claim for compensation can be a step towards getting you back on your feet and help to ease the financial burden. 

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