Introduction to Factory Accident Compensation
A claim for factory accident compensation can be one of the most complicated personal injury claims to handle correctly. It potentially includes issues surrounding your health, your future financial security, your relationship with your work colleagues and the integrity of your employer. To overlook any element of a factory accident injury claim could result in your claim being under-settled and leave you with insufficient factory accident compensation to pay for medical care or support your family.
For this reason, it is always in your best interests to seek independent, professional legal advice. Inasmuch as the article below gives an overview of the procedures for making a factory accident claim for compensation – and some of the obstacles you may encounter – no two claims for factory accident compensation are identical. The circumstances surrounding your factory accident claim may not be unique, but it is more than likely that the consequences of your injury will be.
Your Health comes before Compensation for a Factory Accident Injury
When you are hurt in a factory accident, your health must take priority over considering compensation for a factory accident injury. If you sustained a major injury in a factory accident, common sense would have told you to go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital or an ambulance would have been summoned for you. However some people have been known to work through the pain or to rely on the first aid facilities provided at work to tend to their injuries.
Not only is it essential for the good of your health that you seek a professional medical examination at the first possible opportunity, but also necessary if you wish to pursue a factory accident injury compensation claim. Without evidence of an injury appearing in your medical records, it will be impossible to make a claim for a factory accident and, should you delay a visit to your doctor, an employer or his insurance company could claim that you contributed to the extent of your injuries by your own lack of care in the intervening period.
Qualifying for Factory Accident Injury Compensation
Accidents in factories happen for many different reasons, and not all of them will qualify for factory accident injury compensation. To be eligible to claim for a factory accident injury, it has to be proven that your injuries were attributable to a lack of care by your employer or other person in your workplace who had a position of responsibility for providing you with a safe environment in which to work.
There are a number of areas in which an employer has responsibility for your health and safety – starting with a risk assessment of the hazards presented by the job assigned to you and your ability to complete it safely. Training, supervision and the monitoring of your performance and maintaining machinery to a high standard are other tasks which an employer should complete to ensure the risk of factory accidents is minimised.
Your employer is also obliged to advise you of any risks associated with your job, provide you with appropriate personal protective equipment in good condition to safeguard against a personal injury and ensure that you use it. Should your employer, any other person with responsibility for health and safety or one of your work colleagues cause you to sustain an injury in a factory accident through negligence or a breach in their duty of care, you should qualify for factory accident injury compensation.
In most cases, your employment status does not affect your entitlement to factory accident compensation. Agency workers, those on short-term contracts and workers who are self-employed are all owed the same duty of care when working in a factory. Your injury at work rights are rarely affected by your employment status, but if you have any concerns about whether you qualify for factory accident compensation you should speak with a solicitor as soon as possible.
How to Proceed with a Claim for a Factory Accident
Once it has been established that an injury sustained in a factory accident was due to negligence, there are certain steps that should be followed to support your claim for a factory accident. If you are able, you should make a report of your injury in your employer´s “Accident Report Book”. This report enables you to give your version of how the factory accident occurred and what caused it.
Your employer then has a duty to report your accident and injury to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) if the injuries from your accident fall into certain categories or result in an absence from work of more than seven days. According to a Labour Force Survey, only half of employers fulfil their obligation to make a report – possibly for fear of an HSE investigation.
Although the findings of an HSE investigation could strongly support a factory accident compensation claim, there are certain actions you can take yourself to increase the likelihood of a swift and satisfactory conclusion. These include taking photographs of the scene of your accident, compiling a list of colleagues who witnessed how you came to be injured and finding out if accidents similar to yours had occurred previously in the factory. You should never put yourself at risk of further injury when collecting evidence for a factory accident claim, and it is often advisable to have a solicitor speak with your work colleagues to ensure that their testimonies are recorded accurately and quickly.
Factory Accident Injury Claim Procedures
One of the main benefits of engaging the services of a factory accident compensation solicitor is that he or she will be familiar with the procedures for making a factory accident injury claim and you can focus on recovering from your injuries. He or she will also assist in collating the evidence in support of your claim if you are unable to and – as proof of negligence may quickly be removed after a factory accident – engaging a solicitor as soon as your injuries have been treated is recommended.
Your solicitor will first send your employer a Letter of Claim. Your employer has twenty-one days in which to acknowledge the letter and then a further three months to accept or deny his liability for your injuries. Should he accept his liability, your solicitor will calculate how much compensation for a factory accident injury you are entitled to, and settle your factory accident injury claim with the employer´s insurance company.
If your employer denies his liability, or claims that you contributed to either the cause of the accident or the extent of your injuries by your own lack of care, your solicitor will still try to obtain a negotiated factory accident compensation settlement; but the likelihood is that he will be forced to issue court proceedings. During this time an offer of settlement may be made by either party but, as you will see below, these offers should be treated with caution.
Quite often, the issuing of court proceedings will be sufficient to prompt an out-of-court settlement of factory accident compensation; but your solicitor will have already prepared the strongest possible case on your behalf and, should your case become a High Court factory injury claim, all that a judge will have to do is confirm liability and make a judgement on how much compensation for a factory accident you will receive.
How Much Compensation for a Factory Accident Will I Get?
How much compensation for a factory accident injury you will be entitled to is calculated in four main areas. Each is assessed individually depending on your particular personal circumstances, and all may not apply to your factory accident claim.
General Damages for Physical Injury
How much compensation for a factory accident injury you will be entitled to for the pain and suffering experienced at the time of your accident and throughout your recovery will be based on the severity and extent of your injury. This will be calculated in respect of your age, sex and general state of health prior to the accident to produce a total amount of general damages for physical injury.
General Damages for Psychological Injury
General damages for psychological injury will only apply if you have been diagnosed with some form of psychological trauma which is directly attributable to your factory accident and injury. This could be because you have suffered post traumatic stress disorder as the result of a horrific accident, developed a fear of heights after a fall from an elevated platform or become quantifiably depressed due to a lack of mobility during your recovery.
General Damages for Loss of Amenity
“Loss of Amenity” relates to the loss of your independence after your accident if you are unable to perform day-to-day activities due to your injuries. Factory accident compensation to account for any deterioration in your quality of life, missed social events, holidays and hobbies that you are unable to participate in can all be included in general damages for loss of amenity.
Special Damages for Financial Loss
Factory accident injury compensation special damages will account for any financial costs you have incurred which are due to your factory accident. Any medical treatment expenses, fares when using alternate forms of transport while you are unable to drive and the financial loss of missed social events and holidays can all be included in special damages for financial loss – along with compensation for your loss of earnings, missed overtime, missed bonus payments and pension contributions.
How Contributory Negligence can affect a Claim for Factory Accident Injury Compensation
How much compensation for a factory accident injury you are entitled to receive can also be affected by contributory negligence. The term “contributory negligence” refers to the contribution you made to the cause of the accident or extent of your injuries. If you are not at all to blame for your accident and injury, you will receive 100 percent of your factory accident compensation. If you are considered to be 25 percent at fault, you will receive 75 percent of your entitlement but, should you be found more than 50 percent liable for your injuries, it may not be worth your while to pursue a claim for factory accident compensation.
You can be found responsible for your injuries due to your own lack of care if:-
- You neglected to follow instructions given to you by a person with responsibility for your health and safety
- You neglected to report a faulty machine or piece of equipment whose subsequent failure was the cause of your injuries
- You neglected to visit a hospital or doctor after your accident, and there was an unjustifiable delay in the receipt of treatment
Depending on the job you were doing prior to your factory accident, there may be other examples of how contributory negligence can affect a claim for factory accident injury compensation. If you feel that you may have contributed to the cause of the accident or the extent of your injuries by your contributory negligence, you should bring it to the attention of your factory accident claims solicitor.
Offers of Factory Accident Compensation Settlements
A legal requirement for all employers under the Employers Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969 is to carry insurance in order that they may meet their financial obligations if they are liable for an injury caused by their negligence. Consequently, your factory accident claims solicitor will more often than not deal with your employer´s insurance company; enabling both you and your employer to maintain a distance from negotiations.
However, there are occasions when the insurance company may approach you directly with an offer of factory accident compensation settlement which is offered in return for a quick payment. You should be aware that these offers are rarely calculated with the same depth of consideration as a solicitor acting on your behalf would prepare a claim for factory accident injury, and it is likely that you could inadvertently accept a lesser amount of compensation for factory accident than you are entitled to.
Once the mistake has been made, you cannot go back to the insurance company and ask for more should the settlement of factory accident compensation be inadequate for your needs. Therefore, you should always refer any offer of factory accident compensation to your solicitor and, if short term finances are an issue for you, your solicitor should be able to arrange interim payments of factory injury compensation until such time as your factory accident claim is resolved.
How Long Do I Have to Make a Factory Accident Claim?
In the UK, a factory accident claim for compensation has to be made within three years from the date you were diagnosed with an injury resulting from a factory accident. For many people, the clock will start from the date on which their accident occurred, but for some the diagnosis of a factory injury may not be made until certain symptoms manifest or an injury which was initially thought to be minor develops into something more serious.
Although three years seems like plenty of time in which to make a claim for factory accident compensation, issues such as claims of contributory negligence, the reluctance of work colleagues to provide statements and a protracted HSE investigation can quickly eat into the time available in which to prepare and file a factory accident injury compensation claim. The possibility of unforeseeable delays is another reason why you should not hesitate to contact a factory accident claims solicitor.
No Win, No Fee Factory Accident Injury Claims
Many solicitors will offer “No Win, No Fee” factory accident injury claims on a conditional fee arrangement. This means that should your claim for a factory accident injury be unsuccessful, you will not be liable to pay your solicitor for the time they have spent working on your case. However, as unsuccessful claimants would normally be liable for the defendant´s legal costs, your solicitor will recommend that you take out auxiliary insurance by means of an “After the Event” policy to protect you from financial exposure.
Should you win your factory accident injury claim, your solicitor is entitled to recover his or her legal fees and charge a success fee for having taken the risk of representing you without a guarantee of payment. Furthermore, if you have been in receipt of state benefits since your accident, your solicitor will have to deduct these from your factory accident compensation settlement and return them to the Compensation Recovery Unit of the Department for Work and Pensions.
One other scenario that will result in you receiving less than your full entitlement to compensation for a factory accident is if you were made an offer of settlement which was of a higher value than was awarded in court. In this case, you may be required to forgo the difference to pay for the defendant´s court costs.
Factory Accident Compensation Recommendations
In this article we have focused mostly on injuries sustained in a physical factory accident. Other injuries can be sustained in a factory environment which are due to continued exposure to hazardous substances or repetitive actions. These injuries can be just as life-changing as the most serious fall from height or mechanical accident, and a claim for factory accident compensation can be equally as complicated.
Factory accident compensation claims are often sensitive and prolonged, and should not be attempted without the assistance of an experienced personal injury solicitor. From our “How Much Compensation” section you will be able to see why no two claims for factory accident compensation are identical, and injury claims examples provided by well-meaning friends and family, or which are published on the Internet, are no reflection on how much compensation for a factory accident injury you may be entitled to claim.
Each claim for factory accident injury compensation is compiled on its own merits and, inasmuch as this article may have provided you with useful information – or answered many of the questions you have – it is no substitute for seeking independent professional legal advice from an experienced personal injury solicitor – ideally at your first possible opportunity.
All articles are written or edited by Eoin Campbell.