Suffering an accident at work is never easy and can have a long-term effect on you and your family. By law an employer has a duty of care to his/her employees and whilst compensation can’t make up for the distress caused by an accident at work, it can help reimburse you for any loss in wages, trauma and future disadvantage on the labour market.
Suffering an accident in your workplace could have a far wider reaching effect beyond the immediate physical suffering. If you have had any type of accident that is not your fault you should always consider whether your injuries will cause you to struggle to either maintain the job that you have, progress in your career or limit the type of work that you can do in the future.
What does the law say?
When pursuing a personal injury claim, regardless of the circumstances, you may be able to make an additional claim if your injuries have left you at a disadvantage on the labour market, when it comes to finding future employment. Such a claim can be made provided you can demonstrate:
a) That there is a serious risk that at some point in your life you will find yourself on the open labour market looking for a new job (the risk of future unemployment does not specifically have to be as a result of the injuries sustained, it can be as a result of firm wide redundancies, recession, fragility in the job market etc.) and;
b) That your injury places you at a disadvantage in comparison with an able bodied person/someone without the injury or restrictions that you suffer, when it comes to applying for future roles.
Case study: An injury in the workplace
I recently represented a client who injured her shoulder whilst at work. The client was employed as a care assistant in the mental health sector, working in a hospital designed to deal with patients with challenging behaviour. In her role, she spent a lot of her time restraining patients to avoid them harming themselves and others. Following her accident she was able to return to work, but the practical effects of her injury to her shoulder limited her ability to deal with and, in particular, to restrain some of the patients.
On top of her compensation claim for her injuries, our client also had a claim for loss of earnings following the time that she took off from work after her accident. In addition, we presented a further claim based on the contention that her injuries placed her at a disadvantage should she ever find herself looking for a new job.
Her employer argued that whilst she struggled restraining patients she was able to carry out all of her other day to day duties and they advised that her job was perfectly secure. As such, they claimed that she would never find herself looking for alternative employment.
Whilst they disputed her claim for damages relating to being at a disadvantage on the labour market they offered her a nominal amount (in the region of £2,000), in addition to her claim for compensation for her injuries and her lost earnings.
After carrying out some research into her employer I was able to demonstrate, due to redundancies that had been made by her employer prior to her accident, that there was a real risk of my client becoming unemployed at some point in the future and, in the event of becoming unemployed, she would have a limited choice of jobs available to her (due to her shoulder injury).
After negotiating I was able to secure a far more suitable figure in the region of £15,000 for our client. On top of her compensation claim for her injuries and her lost earnings, she ended up with a substantial sum overall!
In order to deliver the very best results for our clients, we obtain detailed medical evidence of the injuries sustained and whether or not those injuries are likely to place our clients at a disadvantage in the future. We also address the nature of our client’s employment, our client’s age, qualifications, length of service and future expected working life, together with the nature of our client’s injury.
Experience in these types of claims is invaluable and our specialised knowledge enables us to maximise the level of compensation that our clients receive.
For an idea of the level of compensation you may be able to claim, take a look at our Personal Injury Compensation Calculator.
Daniel Griffiths, Personal Injury Solicitor.