Suffering an injury through someone else’s negligence can be a traumatic and upsetting event. It can leave you badly injured, and affect all aspects of your daily life including your ability to work and provide for your family, adding financial worries to the list of concerns about your health and mental wellbeing as you recover.
If you have suffered an injury at your place of work the concern can be even greater as you will need to consider how your employer will react to your injury and the cause of it. It can also leave you feeling helpless as you have been injured by your employer’s negligence and now find yourself vulnerable to your employers’ position on sick pay, your future with the company and whether or not they claim your conduct caused your injury and if that will affect your record and position with them.
If you have been off from work for a time you might be struggling financially and thus you may be considering bringing a claim, so as to keep you and your family going while you recover. This can cause feelings of guilt as well as worry, will bringing a claim affect your employment? Is it wrong to bring a claim against the company that has been helping you support those you care about?
Firstly, a claim is not a quick cash grab, it will take time and any amount recovered will be reasonable. Under English Law compensation is not intended to benefit the injured party, but rather put them back in the position they would have been in if the negligence had not happened in the first place. In order to be successful, you must prove that your accident was caused by your employers’ negligence, your claim will simply not be successful unless you are able to prove that your employer was negligent and that this was what caused your accident.
If you are considering bringing a claim then you will need to think about the following three points.
Are you able to claim?
In order to claim against your employer for an accident at work you will have to prove that you were an employee of the company. You can do this by showing your contract of employment. If you do not have a contract of employment then if you may be able to prove that you were an employee by showing a consistent pay cheque from the company. You may have had to sign certain documents in order to be allowed to work for the company, these would also work as proof in a pinch, however your contract of employment would be your best and safest form of proof.
You will also need to show that the accident happened when you were following your employers’ instructions. This means you must have been doing some kind of work activity for your claim to be successful. If your employer can prove that you were injured when carrying out a task that you were not instructed to, or were told specifically not to do, or were messing around in the workplace then your claim is less likely to be successful.
Were you following the health and safety rules? This also includes using the proper equipment provided for a task. For example, if you were carrying out some manual labour that involved drilling and were not wearing the safety gear provided by your employer and suffered an injury, your employer will have a defence against you are you are always partly responsible for your own health and safety at work. However, if your employer had certain safety rules that were never enforced then this can derail that defence. It is not a defence to say that staff were required to wear X amount of safety gear if staff were never reprimanded for not wearing the correct gear or following the health and safety rules.
Do you want to bring a claim yourself or go through a solicitor?
If you bring a claim through a solicitor then they will run your claim for you. This does not mean that you will not have to do anything, you will need to speak regularly with your solicitor and answer their queries to the best of your ability. But the bulk of the heavy lifting will be done by the legal team. However, this means that you will stand to lose a percentage of your compensation, usually approx 25%.
If you bring the claim yourself then you will have to do all the work yourself but you will keep all of the compensation you receive.
What funding options are available?
Most PI claims that are run through solicitors will be dealt with by a No Win No Fee Agreement, where if you are successful a portion of your compensation (usually 25%) will go to the solicitor in legal fees, but that is not your only option. You may have insurance which might allow you to keep all of your compensation, although it is not guaranteed. Check your car and/or home insurance to see if you have the legal protection add on. You can also bring your claim yourself, this means that you won’t have legal fees to pay but all of your disbursements, such as medical report fees and court fees will be paid out of your own pocket.
Once you have considered the above three questions you will be in a much stronger position to know whether or not you want to pursue a claim and how you want to go about it.