Claiming compensation for construction site injuries
Construction sites can be dangerous places to work, with 2.8 per cent of workers suffering an injury in this sector last year – statistically significantly higher than the all-industry rate, according to Health & Safety Executive (HSE) figures.
In 2019/20 40 construction workers were killed and 61,000 injured. Such injuries are sometimes nobody’s fault, but if you were hurt in a construction site accident due to someone else’s negligence, you have every right to make a claim to compensate you for your pain and suffering and any financial loss that results.
What sort of injuries can you experience on a construction site?
There are a number of ways you can get hurt on a construction site, but some of the most common accidents, according to the HSE include:
- slips, trips and falls on the same level;
- falls from height;
- injured while carrying, lifting or handling;
- struck by falling objects.
Other hazards commonly found on construction sites include dangerous chemicals, badly erected scaffolding, faulty or defective machinery or equipment, bad site layout, holes not being fenced off, and dodgy wiring leading to electric shocks.
Such perils can lead to a variety of injuries, including cuts, bruises, burns, repetitive strain injury, sprains, fractures, head injuries, spinal damage or amputations.
What duties do construction site employers owe to their employees?
There are a number of laws in place which place duties on construction site employers to take reasonable steps to keep their workers safe. These include:
- The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 – impose general duties on employers regarding the health and wellbeing of their staff, such a ensuring you get the right training, supervision, equipment, protective clothing and rest breaks, and that risks to you are identified and minimised
- Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 – requires your employer to ensure you have the right safety equipment;
- The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 – sets out requirements for the proper use of workplace equipment, and requires training to be provided for you if you need to use it.
- The Work at Height Regulations 2005 – requires that you be provided with adequate training and equipment if you work at height, and that the risks of the tasks required are evaluated and minimised.
- The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 aims to bring health and safety into building site practices and includes guidance on how the sizes of construction projects should be planned.
All these rules and regulations combine to ensure your employer has a duty to take reasonable steps to keep you as safe as possible at work. If they breach that duty and were injured as a result, they are likely to be found negligent, meaning you will have a valid claim for compensation, provided you accident happened in the last three years.
For most workplace accident cases, negligence would be found if the employer responsible had failed to act how a ‘reasonable man’ or the famous ‘man on the Clapham omnibus’ would act in a similar situation.
What evidence do I need to bring a compensation claim?
To help your specialist personal injury solicitor to build the strongest possible case on your behalf, you should gather evidence from the accident scene and afterwards,. This includes:
- photos of the accident scene and your injuries;
- names and contact details of any eyewitnesses;
- the entry in the workplace accident book;
- any CCTV footage of the event, which your employer must legally hand over;
- records of any medical treatment you needed following the accident;
- a written account of the accident and how your injuries have affected you;
- details of any current and future expenses which arise from your injury, such as lost earnings because you needed to take off work to recover.
How can a solicitor help?
You should contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible if your employer broke health and safety laws and were injured in a construction site accident as a result.
They will help you bring together all the evidence you need to succeed in your case and refer you to a medical expert to assess your injuries and the effect they have had on your life.
They will also work hard to win you a fair financial settlement. Most construction site accident claims are settled out of court, but if your case has to go to court, your solicitor will be there to advise you and speak on your behalf.
What is the procedure for bringing a workplace accident claim?
Unless your claim is particularly complicated or of very high value, your claim will usually be brought using the Pre-Action Protocol for Low Value Personal Injury (Employers’ Liability and Public Liability) Claims which sets standards and procedures that you and the other side must follow during a claim.
They aim to encourage the parties to exchange information at an early stage, consider using a form of alternative dispute resolution to settle the claim, and assess whether you have needs that could be met by rehabilitation, treatment or other measures.
How much compensation will I receive?
The compensation you receive will depend on the extent of your injuries and how long it takes you to recover, but could include damages for:
- pain and suffering (mental or physical);
- loss of earnings;
- medical expenses;
- loss of potential earnings;
- out of pocket expenses;
- adaptations required to your home.
Will I leave my employers financially hard up if I bring a compensation claim?
By law, all employers must take out employers’ liability insurance to cover any compensation claims brought against them. This means you do not have to fret about bankrupting your employer if you bring a claim, as the insurance company will pay.
Can my employer fire me if I sue?
It is against the law for your boss to fire you or treat you any differently if you make a compensation claim. If they do, you have the right to take your employer to an employment tribunal.