Friday, 25 May 2012

Industrial injury claims – a quick guide

If you have suffered from an accident or injury related to or caused by your work, you may be nervous about pursuing compensation. After all, your employer pays your wages and you may be hesitant about challenging them. However, claims for industrial injury may be more common than you think, and with a robust lawyer, you may be able to secure the compensation you are entitled to.
An employer’s health and safety duties to their employees are well known, and, in most cases, employers are legally obliged to have insurance against such claims.

What kinds of things may lead to a claim?

There are typically two scenarios at work that may lead to an employee claiming for compensation. Firstly there is the sudden accident scenario where you may be injured out of the blue. This may happen due to:
  • injury caused by defective machinery;
  • trips and slips at work;
  • employee attacks;
  • problems caused by manual handling (e.g. back problems); or
  • damage caused by hazardous chemicals.
Apart from sudden accidents, the other type of claim for industrial injury may be those caused by prolonged exposure to particular conditions. So for example, people who have worked with asbestos may develop illnesses caused by that material several years after they have finished in that particular job.
Even if you have left the employment which exposed you to dangerous conditions, if you can prove that your illness or injury was caused by it, you may still be able to make a claim.

What is the procedure?
The first step may be to contact a solicitor to talk through the details of your injury, and what has happened to you. In this initial chat, the lawyer may be able to tell you whether you have a strong chance of claiming compensation.

If you both decide that the claim is worth pursuing, your lawyer may then contact your employer (or former employer) setting out the basis of the claim. If the claim stems from a sudden accident, the letter may not be a surprise to your employer.

Typically, employers may pass the claim to their insurers, so that the process of negotiation may begin. The majority of accident compensation claims may be settled at this stage, if it is clear that your employer was at fault. In this case, the discussion may turn next to the question of how much compensation should be awarded.

But if there is any doubt about who was at fault or how much compensation is payable, industrial injury claims may proceed to court. Here a judge will listen to the evidence and the cases put by both sides’ lawyers, and make an award on the basis of what he or she has heard. If you have brought your claim on a no win no fee basis, the worst that could happen may be that you lose your case and feel frustrated, but have no legal costs to pay.