What if I have an accident?
What if I have an accident ?
“It’ll never happen to me “. We’re all guilty of thinking that accidents won’t happen to us, but the sad truth is that you are never that far away from the risk of being injured, whether it be a cut to the little finger or the kind of catastrophic or fatal accidents that are way too common.
Compensation is not going to be the first thing on your mind when the worst happens, but what should you do to make sure you don’t lose out?
First some basics: you only qualify for compensation if the accident was someone else’s fault – be it your employer, another employer, a main contractor or another worker – there’s no automatic right to compensation just because the accident happened at work. But don’t just think, for example, “Oh it was my fault, I shouldn’t have tried to move that load on my own” – if in doubt, speak to your Union rep and they’ll be able to guide you on whether it’s worth applying for legal assistance from the Union – it won’t always be obvious that someone is to blame.
You al so need to be aware that someone injured in an accident only has three years to start Court proceedings, otherwise the Judge will say the claim is out of time, even if someone else is clearly to blame and no matter how serious the injury.
On site, there are a number of things you can do to make sure your claim has the best possible chance of winning:
1. Get the accident reported – put it in the accident book if there is one and don’t sign anything that someone else has written for you unless it’s a completely accurate description of the accident. For example, if you slip on oil don’t write “Slipped in yard – hurt leg” put “Slipped on oil in yard - hurt leg”. The difference may not seem important but it could be the difference between winning and losing a claim. If there’s no accident book, either tell a manager about it in the presence of one of your colleagues or write a letter to your employers.
2. Get a photograph taken – not always possible but really helpful to a Judge (and your Solicitor!) so they can see the state of the accident area.
3. Get the names and addresses of any witnesses – claims can be difficult to win without supporting evidence from colleagues, especially in an industry where so many members move around, so get people’s names and addresses – including those from other companies – before they move on.
4. Go to your GP or A&E Department. Keep a record of your treatment and expenses so you don’t end up out of pocket for something that wasn’t your fault.
If you can show your accident was someone else’s fault, you will get compensation for the injuries as well as compensation for the pay you’ve lost and any expenses you’ve incurred
Remember – Your Union provides free legal advice and representation not only for accidents at work but also any other accident you have. Your Union will also cover any accident your family members have, so approach your Union rep for an application form and if your Union takes your case on, you or your family won’t have to worry about paying legal fees or picking through the minefield of so-called no win no fee claims companies.
And unlike in most claims, your Union won’t take a penny of your compensation at the end.