When I’m playing golf for some reason I often hear from other golfers who have had an accident at work and they want to know if it is right to make a claim and if there can be any consequences for doing so. They are concerned with adverse affects that it may cause in their day to day working environment and also worry about career progression being held up or stopped altogether because they made a claim against their employer. I’ll go through a few of the questions I receive below and my usual answers.
Is it right to make a personal injury claim for an accident at work?
Usually I’d say yes. If the injury occurred because of somebody else’s mistake, error or negligence and it has caused you to be in pain, take time off work, incur costs or lose your job then it’s definitely worth making a claim as you have lost out and it wasn’t your fault. If however your injury was caused by flouting your employers working recommendations, you were messing around or you thought you would do something your own way then the answer is probably not.
Will my employer discipline me for making a claim?
No. It is against the law to sack an employee or discipline them for making a claim. Your employer has a duty of care to you and your colleagues and anyone else on the premises. If there’s a genuine claim then they can’t sack you because of it.
Who will know about my accident?
Your employer should already know about the accident as it’ll have been recorded in their accident log book. I always used to check this had happened and I’d advise you check as soon as possible that it has been recorded. Your employer should then report any serious injuries to the Health And Safety Executive under Injury, Disease and Dangerous Occurrence Regulations (RIDDOR).
Furthermore the compensation recovery unit at the Department for Work and Pensions must also be told of any personal injury at work claim.
Will my colleagues resent me for claiming?
This shouldn’t happen. The claim will usually be made by a solicitor. Your employer will refer it to their solicitor and then it will be dealt with between them. Your colleagues will probably never know and if your boss did tell someone else then there’s probably a case for breach of privacy but I won’t go into that on this post today!
So how does the claim process work?
This is the bit you employ your claim management company or lawyer for so what do they do?
Well to start with they gather all of the facts from you. What happened? Where did it happen? Who witnessed it happening? When did it happen? What injuries did you sustain? What time off work was there? Did you visit the doctors or hospital (if so they gather medical reports and x-rays)? Are there any long term affects on your health?
Once all of those things are assessed your lawyer or claim manager will work out a figure for your claim and then make a claim either to your employer or via their lawyer. The employer will then either admit liability or not for your accident at work. If they admit that they are liable then it is quite straightforward case, usually between the lawyers, of claim and counter-claim until an an amount that is agreeable by both parties is reached.
If your employer doesn’t agree that they are liable then your lawyer will present the evidence you have provided to prove your case. This is why it essential to gather as much evidence as possible when discussing your case from the outset. I used to ensure I was fully armed with evidence to counter the usual standard responses from company lawyers. If you’re unprepared for their questions then it’s a very easy case for them to deny the blame.
To sum up: if your employer is negligent or an accident has happened because of poor practise or processes not being followed and you get injured then you are likely to have good reason to make a personal injury claim against your employer, you can not be sacked for claiming against your employer as you’d probably have a good case for unfair dismissal or constructive dismissal and in most cases the case and your claim will be dealt with behind the scenes by lawyers minimizing the impact on you and your colleagues. Companies are required to have insurance to cover costs for your injuries and it should create no bad feeling for you when you return to work.
G Macs final thought
Employers aren’t bad people, it’s not them versus you and usually they agree that is right for you to be compensated if they’ve made a mistake. Most use it as a learning exercise to put things right so that the same thing doesn’t happen again.