LEGAL EAGLE: Can you claim compensation for an accident at work?

Trip on stairs.

Trip on stairs.

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I was injured at work recently when I fell down the stairs. I went to see a solicitor who told me that I haven’t got a case to be compensated. I don’t understand this – I broke my leg and my employer has got insurance, so why can’t I get any compensation? I have suffered a serious injury.

Employers are required to have insurance to cover various problems that may arise – including accidents happening.

But an accident happening that is no one’s fault is not covered by such insurance. It may be that this is why you were given the advice provided by the solicitor you saw.

In most work accident cases, in order to get compensation it is necessary to prove various points:

l Firstly that someone had a duty of care towards you – in a work accident case this should not normally be a problem; in this day and age it would strike most people as common sense that an employer owes an employee a duty of care when the employee is at work and that is what the law does state

l That the duty was breached (or broken) – I shall come back to this.

l That as a result of the breach, “damage” has been suffered – a broken leg would certainly count as damage; significant damage.

The problem in your case may be point b) above – did your employer breach its duty to you? For this to be shown, more detail would be needed about why you fell down the stairs.

If, for example, you fell because a step was broken or because the stairs were uneven for some reason – perhaps due to the way they were built – then a case might be pursued.

Also, if there had been a spillage on the stairs that had not been wiped up causing you to slip, that might give rise to a claim you could pursue if, for example, it could be shown that the spillage was caused by a fellow employee who did not clean it up or if it could be shown that the employer did not have a reasonable system for checking for spillages to ensure safety.

Without a breach of some sort it is not usually possible to pursue a compensation claim for an injury at work.

So employers do not need insurance for no fault accidents and no standard Employers Liability Insurance would pay out to an employer for any payment made by an employer to an employee for such a no fault accident.

Ben Hoare Bell LLP has specialist Personal Injury Solicitors that can advise you on issues such as this and whether you could claim for compensation. To speak to a solicitor call 0191 565 3112 or email advice@benhoarebell.co.uk. Visit www.benhoarebell.co.uk for more.