Health and safety may appear like phrases that are mentioned repeatedly these days and sometimes receive a bad rep due to people believing that whenever health and safety are concerned that they cannot enjoy their time. Even though the concept is ubiquitous nowadays, that has not always been the case back when it was merely an idea.
In fact, it was 1974 when the UK first had a dedicated piece of legislation, aptly named The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act, in place. Similarly, OSHA ensures a safe work environment in the USA.
Ever since, the number of accidents and fatalities at the workplace has been decreasing. Nevertheless, individuals are still, in some way, at risk of having an accident.
When people are involved in an accident and get injured, their first instinct is to not follow up on the matter while hoping they will make a full recovery. Many people are put off by the idea of asking for compensation, even when they have been hurt, seeing as they do not want to be seen as a nuisance or inconvenience to their company. However, people have the right to ask for compensation without being penalized for doing so.
But what should people know about the process of filing a work accident claim before speaking to a lawyer?
You have the right to be safe
Common accidents in the workplace oftentimes involve slipping, falling, and dealing with potentially hazardous objects. In most cases, injured parties struggle with feelings of embarrassment and self-blame which can lead individuals to avoid asserting their rights.
If you work in the UK and are involved in an accident, you will ask yourself:
- Does my company have a clear health and safety policy in place?
- Was there anything the company should have done to prevent the accident?
- Does my company have risk assessments in place?
- Was I given adequate training and has it been recorded?
- Does my company have the right facilities in place?
You will often come to realize that the company’s negligence has led to the accident which makes a claim viable. In the USA, mandatory Workers Compensation Insurance covers employees regardless of fault and protects employers from claims.
What can complicate a claim?
While seeking compensation is usually a straightforward process, an employer may still object to the claim.
Common scenarios that can complicate a UK claim are as follows:
- Your employer having gone bankrupt
- Your employment status at the time of the accident
- The amount of time it took to file for compensation after the accident
- Any existing problems/injuries you had before you started working
- If you are making a direct claim or doing it on someone’s behalf
Experts can assist to guide you through the process in the UK or USA and give you advice as well as let you know if your claim is viable.
Who to talk to
A lawyer who makes overly zealous promises in regard to a claim and guarantees a successful outcome, may be a tad too optimistic.
A decent lawyer will be honest with you, ask for as much information as possible, and try to get an idea of how successful a claim can be. This last point is crucial since you want to find legal representation that applies a No Win No Fee principle. This can be beneficial for most people, who may not have the resources to pay from the get-go.
Also, do some research to find out if your area has experts who possibly specialize in local laws. For example, I mentioned Thompsons Scotland at the beginning of this article, who focus on helping people within Scotland as well as the intricacies of health and safety there. If you live in Northern Ireland or Wales a local law firm might be a better fit for you.
Claims take time
Let us assume, you have talked to someone who is confident that your claim will lead to a successful outcome. This does not ensure that the claim will proceed quickly and without difficulties. Even small claims tend to drag along to such an extent that it might feel like nothing is happening. Most claims in the UK take between six to twelve months to hash out, although it can take even longer.
The perceived delay is usually due to disagreements about who is to blame, how severe the injury is, and if any specific legislation needs to be followed. Understanding that it is a lengthy process is important and having patience helps immensely.
I hope this information regarding work accident claims helps give you clarity about the process and what mistakes should be avoided.