What you Need for an Accident at Work Compensation Claim

Businessman slipping on wet office floor

If you have been injured in an accident in the workplace that was caused by the negligence of your employer, you are entitled to make a claim for compensation. However, many people do not claim the compensation they deserve, and sometimes this is down to uncertainty about the claims process, what it involves, and what exactly is needed to make a valid and successful claim.

Legal Assistance

Of course, making a work accident claim will require professional legal assistance. There are many firms which specialise in making personal injury claims generally and in claiming compensation for accidents in the workplace specifically, and they will offer in-depth expertise and valuable assistance throughout the claims process. The help of a solicitor is virtually essential for making a compensation claim. Even if it were not strictly necessary, however, hiring a solicitor would probably still be advisable as having the help and support of a specialist as well as having somebody else to handle the paperwork and technicalities of the process is invaluable for many claimants.

Information

From the earliest stages of making a claim, you will at a minimum need some basic information about the accident. This should ideally include when and where the accident took place, and the injuries that you sustained as a result of it. You should also be able to explain to your solicitor why you feel your employer (or, in some cases, a specific superior or co-worker) was responsible for the accident. In order for this party – the defendant – to be legally responsible, they must have been negligent in some way and not taken all necessary or reasonable steps to protect your safety.

Documents and Evidence

You will also need to have certain documents and evidence to support your case – and other documents, while not necessary, could be very useful. Your solicitor will outline to you want kind of evidence and documentation is necessary when you begin your claim, but it can be useful to have some idea ahead of time so you can begin preparations sooner. Initially, you will need to present proof of your identity to your solicitor, as well as documents relating to any relevant insurance policies. At later stages, you may have to provide evidence of the nature and extent of your injuries such as photographs or medical documents. You may also have to present evidence relating to the accident itself such as photographs of the location, any records of the accident or reports that were made, and written statements from witnesses. Many of these are documents you are unlikely top have at the initial stage but can set about obtaining as your claim progresses.

Employment Claims Drop

Employment related claims against employer’s such as unfair dismissal has almost halved with figures showing that there has been a drop in such claims by 55%. This fall in the number of claims is said to be due to the introduction of the tribunal fees of last summer according to many law firms. They beleive the sharp drop of claims brought is a reflection of the  charges which are imposed for the applications and attending a hearing. It is also believed that the decline is a reflection of the surge of claims which were filed in order to beat the fee introduction.

If you wish to bring a claim the standard fee for lodging the claim is £160 and £260 for a tribunal hearing regarding basic claims. There are however a set of higher fees which have been introduced for employed who wish to challenge their dismissal on the ground of unfair dismissal, racial or sexual discrimination in the work place as well as whistleblowing. Such claims face a charge of £250 to file a claim and a staggering £950 in order for the hearing to take place.

The Ministry of Justice believe that the Employment Tribunal Service charges are due to save millions of pounds a year. This is however disputed by Unison who launched a judicial review procedure which challenges the legality of the charges which is set to be resolved by a judgement by the high court.

Head of employment law at specialist law firm Hugh James, Emma Burns, stated that there is currently a great level of uncertainty as to the extent of the legality of the fees introduced. The result of a judgement pronounce the fees ultra vires (unlawful) is likely to be followed by a wave of employment claims of ex-employees pursuing claims against their employers.

Prolonged work related disputes can have detrimental financial effect on both the worker and the employer court fees and legal representation often staggers up to astronomical amounts pretty quickly. The introduction of the fees are even more of a reason for employers and ex-employees to reconsider and think carefully prior to launching a claim of whether the risk justifies that pursued cause. Figures released by the Ministry of Justice reveal that the number of claims accepted by the Employment Tribunal Service dropped by 55% in August down from 17,153 in July.

TV Pundit loses age discrimination case

Legendary racing pundit John McCririck was given his “pantomime persona” as the reason for his dismissal from broadcaster Channel 4 due to the fact that it was “unpalatable” to a nationwide audience. An employment tribunal stated that this was a sufficient and just reason for the dismissal of the 73-year-old horse racing pundit.

An employment panel gave a unanimous decision against Mr McCririck who alleged that he had been given the sack following an astonishing 29 year long career in television due to his old age. The employment tribunal however favoured the argument put forward by Channel 4 who argued that the sacking was part of a wider plan to introduce horse racing to a wider more diverse audience.

The applicant in this case, Mr McCririck stated that this decision and the reasoning behind it showed a “historic setback” for those over 30 who wish to lodge claims for unfair dismissal based on age discrimination. The racing pundit earlier in the year took TV production company IMG Media Limited as well as Channel 4 to the tribunal while seeking to be compensated in the sum of £3m for the damages caused. Both parties denied and defended the allegations of discrimination. As expected both Channel 4 and IMG welcomed the decision reached by the e Central London Employment Tribunal.

While at the forefront of Channel 4’s racing coverage the racing pundit became famous with his attire consisting of gold jewellery, deer-stalker hats and wild gesticulations. On later TV appearances such as Wife Swap and Big Brother Mr McCririck confessed to his “pantomime villain” appearance. The aging pundit was replaced by a revamped team headed by Clare Balding when Channel 4 obtained broadcasting rights for horse racing in March 2012.

In the report the tribunal panel concluded that having obtained rights to broad cast Royal Ascot and the Grand National which are considered to be the crown jewels of the sport, it was evident why the broadcaster wanted to appeal to a younger audience  while maintaining its existent over 55 male audients.

The tribunal went on to state that Mr McCririck’s celebrity profile had increased after airing his personal views on matters which were previously not known to the public. The report referred to the pundit being asked to leave other well-known TV programmes such as Hell’s Kitchen, Alan Titchmarsh, and Loose Women, following the publication of his views.

Claims for Unfair Dismissal Soar due to Impending Law Reform

In recent years claims for unfair dismissal have risen significantly, and this trend has seen a steep rise in numbers recently – up to a 44% rise.  Employees who think they have been the victims of unfair dismissal now rush to bring in their claims before new Government measures, which aim to make it easier to dismiss workers who have been underperforming, come into force. The Tribunal Service has shown statistics that state in the quarter to September 2012 there was 15,300 claims compared to 10,600 in the three months to June.

The proposal that will take effect soon will mean that anyone wishing to bring a claim under unfair dismissal will have to pay a £250.00 fee to make a claim, plus a further £950.00 if the claim was to go to court.  Prior to this proposal taking effect, it was free to make a claim.

One other proposal is that will see successful claims be capped at one years’ salary or roughly £74,200, whichever is lower in terms of money.

These are all parts of government planned legislation to make it more difficult for unhappy workers to bring the claims against employers in an attempt to unburden the currently busy system from “spurious claims”.

In The Telegraph Jon Taylor explained: “There will have been a spike in very light weight claims for unfair dismissal… The incoming changes increase the incentive for sacked employees to launch a free; unfair dismissal claim now; some people will be trying their luck when they still can.”

Employment Tribunals

The possibility of having a claim made against an employer in an employment tribunal is always a troubling prospect. Almost always, an employer can expect to pay for their own cost, even if the claim is ruled to be unjustified. In the worst case scenario, when a claim is justified, an employer may have to pay a substantial award in addition to the disruption and costs of the employment tribunal case.

By avoiding employment disputes, an employer will minimise the chances of ever facing a claim against them in a tribunal. To do this, it is important to treat employees fairly, honour your side of the contract and comply with all legal requirements. These include working hours, health and safety and flexible working etc.

Always try to promote open communication in the work place. This way, if an employee feels that there has been some injustice, they may want to raise the issue informally with managers first; possibly allowing the problem to be resolved before it even makes it to the employment tribunal.

Regardless, problems in the work place may still arise. This could be when employees need to be disciplined, made redundant or dismissed.  It is advisable to have proper grievance and disciplinary procedures in place as these may also help resolve the issue. It is also wise to follow them and act fairly as failure to do so could lead to the award against you being increased; the employee’s claim against you will also appear to be more justified.

If you are notified of a claim against you, you will need to identify your approach. It is never too late to try to negotiate an agreement. You may do this informally, using the Acas reconciliation service or compromise an agreement through lawyers. If you decide to defend yourself in an employment tribunal, you must gather all the evidence that suggest you are in the right and possibly seek legal aid. Usually, negotiating formally or informally is more cost efficient that fighting the tribunal case.