Accidents at Work - Two Minute Guide

If an employee is injured in an accident at work, it may be possible for them to claim damages against their employer.

An employer can be liable for damages if it is shown they failed to take reasonable care to prevent injury to employees. Employers owe a duty of care to their employees and must provide a safe working environment, safe premises and suitable materials and equipment. For example, an employer who fails to provide ear protection for an employee using a pneumatic drill might be negligent if the employee then suffers hearing loss as a direct consequence. A claim must normally be made within three years of the accident.

In some circumstances, an employer can be strictly liable in law for an injury. In other cases, it may be necessary to show that the employer was negligent in some way.

However, employers can use a defence of contributory negligence if the injury was at least partially caused by the employee’s negligence. An example might be an employee if an employee suffered back problems after ignoring the employer’s training on how to lift heavy objects safely. Damages will be reduced to reflect the share of the employee’s responsibility for the accident. Employers are required by law to have Employers Liability Insurance, so normally their insurance company will pay out damages due.

Complex claims will take longer to resolve than straightforward ones – for example, where there is a dispute over contributory negligence.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.