Work Related Injury Compensation - When and How to Make a Claim

 By: Harry Marldon
There are many ways in which an employer's negligence can directly cause accidents and injuries among workers. Despite the UK's excellent health and safety record, relative to other European nations, thousands of people are still injured in the workplace each year through on fault of their own. Employers owe a duty of care to their employees, and must take all reasonable measures to ensure they are not injured in the course of their work. An employer's responsibilities include providing a safe premises and safe system of work. All the necessary equipment and training must be provided to enable workers to safely carry out specific tasks. Working practices should be regularly risk assessed, and effective inspection and supervision routines should implemented and maintained.

Two of the most important pieces of legislation in this area are:

- The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
- The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992

Workers may be injured in any number of ways, and in almost any industry or profession. Certain jobs have much higher incidence rates of injuries among workers than others. Manual handling work, including lifting, carrying, pulling and pushing, regularly cause back injuries, particularly in physically demanding professions such as nursing, and all types of building and construction work. Those who work at height using ladders and scaffolding constantly risk falls if their safety equipment or system of work is defective. Burn injuries may be caused by electrical currents, steam, heat, cold and friction. Specific illnesses and diseases may also be contracted in the workplace, including dermatitis, asthma, asbestosis and other respiratory conditions.

Where an injury or illness has been caused by the negligence of an employer (or a co-worker under the principle of vicarious liability), a worker may decide to bring a no win no fee compensation claim against them. There may be other ways of funding a claim apart from a no win no fee (contingency) agreement, including Legal Expense Insurance, often sold as part of a household insurance policy. Otherwise, under the no win no fee system, an injured person will not have to pay fees associated with their case at any stage. Where a case is successful the client's legal fees will be paid by the opposing party to the claim i.e. the employer and their insurers. If a claim is lost there will be nothing to pay, as this is the risk taken on by the solicitor handling the claim.

Compensation awards will reflect the physical and emotional pain and suffering that an injury has caused. Other factors are also taken into account, including loss of earnings due to time off work, and the cost of medical treatment, past, current and future. Claims must generally be made within 3 years of the date of the original injury. It makes sense to bring a claim as quickly as possible, while the details are fresh in the memory and easy to establish. Cases can normally be handled by telephone, e-mail and post. The vast majority are settled before they go to court, and a solicitor will not normally agree to take on a case unless they are confident it will succeed.
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