An Introduction to Work Injury Compensation
In the UK, you are entitled to work injury compensation if you have sustained an injury or illness due to an employer´s negligence. There are many different types of injury or illness that will qualify for work injury compensation, and many ways in which an employer can demonstrate a breach in his duty of care – albeit not usually intentionally.
This article aims to give a general overview of claiming compensation for a work injury in the UK and provide information that claimants should be aware of before making a claim for a work injury when they sustained an injury or acquired an illness due to hazards in their workplace and for which they were not entirely to blame.
Work Injury Compensation in the UK
According to the most recent statistics published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), 173 workers were killed while at work in 2011/12, with a further 2,347 deaths attributable to asbestos-related illnesses which had been contracted in the workplace. More than 111,000 work place injuries or illnesses were reported to the HSE in 2011/12 and, although not all of them would have qualified for work injury compensation, by the end of the year an estimated 1.8 million people in the UK were suffering from an illness or injury that was caused or made worse by their current or past employment.
The most frequent reason given for physical injuries sustained in the workplace was slipping or tripping, manual handling accidents or falls from a height. Psychological injuries such as anxiety, stress and depression made a substantial contribution to the overall number of working days lost due to ill health (27 million), and significant rises in work injury compensation claims for dermatitis and carpal tunnel syndrome showed that the trend for work injury compensation claims was moving away from the more “traditional” injuries (possibly due to tighter health and safety controls) and into newer, service orientated areas.
Reporting a Work Injury in the UK
Prior to making any report of a work injury in the UK, your first consideration has to be your health. Even when you feel that a work injury or illness is relatively minor, you should always seek a medical examination. In order to claim for work injury compensation in the UK, there must have been negligence and an injury. When you doctor treats you for your work injury, he will make a note in your medical records and these records will support a compensation claim for a work injury by confirming that you have sustained an injury attributable to your work.
Once you have received medical treatment, you should make a report in your employer´s “Accident Report Book”. This is your written account of how your work injury or illness was sustained and is a permanent report that will be also be used to support your compensation claim for a work injury. You do not have to apportion blame in the report, but it is in your best interests to retain a copy of what you have written. If your absence from work due to your injury or illness is longer than seven days, your employer is obligated to report it to the HSE, and although an HSE health and safety investigation does not guarantee a successful work injury claim for compensation, their findings could significantly help your work injury compensation claim.
Qualifying for Work Injury Compensation in the UK
In all personal injury claims there has to be somebody who is at fault for causing your injury, and in claims for compensation for a work injury this has to be your employer. Although many employers are genuinely upset when a member of their staff sustains an illness or injury due to their “lack of care”, they have a duty to provide a safe environment in which to work. When they are in breach of their duty of care, and you sustain an injury or illness as a result, you are entitled to make a compensation claim for a work injury.
There are many areas in which an employer can be negligent through either a lack of knowledge or the lack of resources to adhere to their health and safety commitments. However, in areas such as risk assessment, training, the provision of suitable and well-maintained equipment to work with and ongoing supervision, there can be no short measures. If an injury or illness is sustained due to a short cut in health and safety in the workplace – even if the employer´s representative or another work colleague was directly responsible for the work injury occurring – then the employer is the liable party in a work injury compensation claim.
Making Work Injury Claims Against an Employer
When making a work injury claim for compensation against an employer, some people have been conscious of how claiming compensation for a work injury may affect their future working relationships or prospects at work. The law is very strict that there should be no repercussions against an employee who rightfully makes a claim for work injury compensation against an employer and, as we mentioned above, most employers are genuinely upset that their negligence has resulted in an injury or illness.
Furthermore, settlements of injury at work compensation are paid by the employer´s insurance company and, most often, without the need to pursue your compensation claim for a work injury through the courts. This means that there is very little chance that you will ever be in the situation where you have to give evidence across a courtroom from your employer. We understand that some people may be apprehensive about how claiming compensation for a work injury may affect their day-to-day working lives and, if you have any worries in this respect, you should discuss this with a work injury compensation solicitor.
How Much Injury at Work Compensation Will I Get?
No two claims for work injury compensation are the same – even when the injuries sustained are identical. This is because four main variables are taken into account when a work injury solicitor prepares a work injury claim for compensation and, on an individual basis, the results can vary considerably. The variables which are taken into account by a work injury solicitor are:-
Compensation for Pain and Suffering
A work injury solicitor will assign a financial value to your injury or illness based on the extent and severity of the complaint. That figure will be adjusted to take into account your age, sex and general state of health prior to your accident or illness, so a young healthy female who sustains a facial scar would receive more than an older male.
Compensation for Emotional Trauma
Not every compensation claim for a work injury includes compensation for emotional trauma, whereas some are solely based on the psychological injury that has been sustained. Workplace bullying and harassment can lead to work injury compensation for emotional trauma, as can those where an employee has become ill because he has been placed under too much stress. Any compensation for emotional trauma in the workplace has to be quantified by a psychologist before work injury solicitor will include this factor in an injury at work compensation claim.
Compensation for Loss of Amenity
You should also be compensated when claiming compensation for a work injury for any deterioration in your quality of life. This can apply to active people who are unable to participate in hobbies and pastimes or parents who are no longer able to care for their children. A victim´s personal circumstance should always be taken into account by a work injury solicitor irrespective of whether the loss of amenity is temporary or permanent.
Work Injury Special Damages
Work injury special damages enable the victim of a work injury to recover the financial costs of their injury so that their financial position should be no different than if the injury or illness had never occurred. Work injury special damages are most usually associated with the costs associated with seeking medical treatment and replacing any lost income, but can also include alternative travel costs if you are unable to drive and, in the event of catastrophic work injuries, the costs of restructuring your home for wheelchair access and special care needs.
There may be other elements of your injury at work compensation claim which increase or decrease how much work injury compensation you will be entitled to receive, and your solicitor will talk you through these when you speak with him or her about your work injury claim for compensation.
Injury at Work Compensation and Insurance Companies
Once you have received a full assessment of your claim for work injury compensation, you will be fully prepared in the event that you are approached directly by your employer´s insurance company with an offer of compensation for a work injury. The insurance company will have been alerted to the possibility of a claim by your employer after you made the report in the employer´s “Accident Report Book” – usually because it is a condition of providing insurance for him.
Insurance companies regularly indulge in a practice known as “third party capture”, where they offer a victim an amount of work injury compensation – which is much lower than the victim may be entitled to receive – in return for an immediate settlement. Using the argument that an immediate settlement would save costs and thereby make more money available for compensation, the insurance company will apply pressure on the claimant to accept an offer which may be entirely inappropriate, as it is unlikely that the insurance company has performed a full assessment of the claim.
No Win No Fee Compensation for a Work Injury
Inasmuch as knowing how much compensation for a work injury you are entitled to is important before you inadvertently accept an inappropriate offer from your employer´s insurance company, there are other reasons why you should not delay in speaking with a solicitor after you have sustained an illness or been injured in an accident at work for which you were not entirely to blame.
The main issue is collecting evidence of negligence and gathering the statements of colleagues who witnessed an accident or who shared the same unhealthy work environment as yourself. As evidence and memories tend to fade over time, it is in your best interests to speak with a work injury solicitor as soon as you have received medical treatment for your work injury or illness.
Many work injury solicitors will offer a free initial assessment of your work injury claim for compensation and, if the claim is considered sufficiently strong, will provide legal representation on a “No Win, No Fee” conditional arrangement. “No Win, No Fee” work injury compensation claims enable you to make a claim for compensation without worrying about potential costs if your claim is unsuccessful.
If you have any questions about your eligibility to make “No Win, No Fee” claims for work injury compensation, you should speak with a solicitor at the first practical opportunity.
All articles are written or edited by Eoin Campbell.