Having an accident at work can be a very distressing experience.
On top of any injuries sustained, many workers also worry about how their employer will handle the situation.
If you’ve had a workplace accident and aren’t sure of your rights, Thompsons Solicitors can help. We’re the UK’s leading law firm for trade unions, representing workers and never employers for over a century.
In this guide, we’ll explain what your rights are following an accident at work by answering some common questions we hear from our clients.
What should I do if I have an accident at work?
If you have an accident at work, you should report the accident to your employer as soon as possible using the official reporting procedures, such as logging the event in the accident book.
If you are hurt, you should seek medical attention as soon as you become aware of your injuries.
Taking photographic evidence of the accident can also be useful in the event that you decide to make an accident at work claim. You should photograph any unsafe conditions that contributed to the accident – for example, if you tripped over loose wires, take a photo of the wires as evidence. It is also a good idea to take photo evidence of any injuries caused by the accident.
It is not advisable to admit any responsibility for the accident to your employer. If your employer wishes to discuss the causes of the accident, speak to your trade union representative for advice.
Can I be fired for having an accident at work?
If your employer can evidence that the accident was entirely your fault, they are legally allowed to dismiss you on the grounds of negligence.
If the accident was partly your fault, but partly a result of your employer’s negligence, you may be able to challenge a decision to dismiss you from your role.
If you were not at fault for the accident, your employer should not dismiss you because of the accident. If your employment is terminated for this reason, you may be able to take legal action against your employer for unfair dismissal.
For more information, read our article about what to do if you have been dismissed after an accident at work.
Will I get sick pay after an accident at work?
If you need to take time off because of injuries caused by an accident at work, check your employment contract for details about your sick pay entitlement.
Your contract should outline whether you are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), or a higher rate of contractual sick pay.
If you think you should be entitled to sick pay, but your employer disagrees, contact your union representative for advice and support.
Can I claim compensation for an accident at work?
If you have been injured in an accident at work where your employer was at least partly at fault, you can make a personal injury claim.
Your employer has a duty of care to keep their employees safe. This is not just a moral duty – it is a legal obligation under the Health of Safety at Work Act 1974. If your employer has failed to protect you, then it is your right to seek compensation for your injury.
Many workers worry about what will happen if they make an accident at work claim. It is important to remember that you are entitled to compensation if you are injured as a result of your employer’s negligence. Your employer should not discriminate against you for making an accident at work claim. If you suffer any unfair treatment from your employer after bringing a claim against them, make sure you inform your trade union so they can advise you.
Some workers are also concerned about the financial impact that making a claim will have on their employer, especially if they work for a small business. However, employers are required by law to have insurance for any workplace accident claims, and this insurance will cover their legal costs and any compensation awarded.
How much does it cost to make an accident at work claim?
If you belong to a trade union, you may be able to make an accident at work claim free of charge as part of your member benefits package.
If you aren’t in a union, you can pursue an accident at work claim without upfront costs by choosing a no win, no fee arrangement. The packages that law firms offer with ‘no win no fee’ claims vary considerably, and some firms charge much more than others. At Thompsons, we help both unionised and non-unionised workers secure the compensation they deserve from negligent employers. For details of the package we offer to our non-union clients, visit our fees and payments page.