Making a Work Injury Claim
Much has been made of the ‘compensation culture’ that is apparently sweeping Britain. In great part this seems to concern personal injury claims; that is, injuries sustained by individuals outside the workplace.
However, occupational injuries have just as much validity in the compensation process as personal injuries. This article offers some advice on how to ensure that your occupational injury claim has the highest possible chance of success.
How Do I Claim?In the first instance, it should be remembered that there is a choice of procedure when making an occupational compensation claim. It is worth noting that no organisation will wish to have legal proceedings started against them. As a result, you may find that you have some success if you approach your employer directly.
This can be particularly useful as they should be aware of the nature of your injuries and of any lost earnings that may have resulted. If they accept negligence then you will then be able to negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement. If you choose this route, however, you should ensure that you are roughly aware of what a suitable level of compensation might be before you begin negotiations.
In most cases, victims of occupational injuries choose to enlist the services of claims management companies or claims assessors. These organisations will take on much of the work of the claims process for you. This can be particularly beneficial for occupational injuries as it limits the potential for direct conflict between employer and employee, thus (hopefully) ensuring that relations will remain cordial.
Alternatively, some occupational injury cases can be heard by a health and safety tribunal. This can be a good financial choice for unionised workers, as your union should be able to provide legal representation free of charge. Further information on occupational injuries and employment tribunals is available in an article elsewhere on this site.
Gathering EvidenceWhen making a claim, it is important that you gather any evidence that may be relevant to your case. For occupational injuries, this evidence may well include employers’ safety records, and details of any previous related incidents. If your case is heard by an employment tribunal, or if it goes to court, you will be entitled to force your employer to disclose any such documents. Again, more information on ‘forcing disclosure’ is available elsewhere on this site.
You should also be prepared for the fact that your employer may use a defence of contributory negligence. This essentially means that, while they accept partial negligence, the employer alleges that your actions contributed to the injury. If this defence is upheld, any compensation award will be reduced proportionally. If you contest this, you may find it useful to gather evidence from other workers stating that you were discharging your duties in a sensible, accepted fashion.
It is also important to note that you cannot be dismissed as the result of a successful claim against your employer. Some employees have complained that they have suffered poor treatment after having made a claim, and others have had cases of unfair dismissal upheld. While this is a worst-case scenario, you should remember that employment tribunals are available to deal with cases such as these. It is your legal right to bring a complaint against your employer, and you should not let fear of the potential repercussions put you off.