29 April 2019
What Are The First Crucial Steps To Take After Injury At Work?
How badly am I injured? How long will I be off work? What will happen to my job? Who will support my family?
These are just some of the questions that can go through someone’s mind when they suffer an accident at work, and they are all completely understandable concerns.
We’ve set out some of the key steps that you should take following your accident and how we can help if you choose to seek legal advice.
1. Seek medical treatment
- Your primary concern must be on your health and not endangering yourself further – do not worry about the work, the job at hand, etc.
- All employers are required to have a designated first aider and this individual is likely to be the nearest and fastest means of immediate treatment for you.
- If you have any concerns about your injuries or your immediate risks, then you should go to a hospital for a full assessment – if you are able to, call an ambulance or, if not, have a colleague make the call for you.
- Beyond the initial treatment, you should consult your GP and attend your follow-up appointments and treatment sessions until you fully recover from your injuries – if you do not, then this will give the impression that you had recovered earlier or were not concerned by your symptoms when they may still have been troubling for you.
- You should also explain to your GP and your treating consultants exactly how you sustained your injuries, to avoid any misinterpretations later on.
2. Record the incident
- If you were working with colleagues at the time, it may be that one or more of them witnessed your accident.
- Telling them what happened to you is important for two reasons – you are making them aware of what happened to you so they will know if they are asked by your employer, but equally as important is making them aware so that they can avoid a similar sort of accident, either at the time or in the future.
- Speak to your manager and ensure that the accident is formally recorded in the Accident Book or in an accident report.
- If your employer has a Health & Safety representative, and if you have a Trade Union representative, report your accident to these individuals. Your Trade Union representative may be able to offer you additional assistance as part of your Union membership.
- If your accident is serious, your employer will also be required to report it to the Health and Safety Executive using a ‘RIDDOR’ report.
- Did your accident occur due to a defective piece of equipment or a badly maintained workplace?
- If so, make sure that evidence of this is recorded before the equipment is removed (and potentially destroyed) or the workplace tidied up.
- Photographs taken by you (if it is safe and you can do so) or by colleagues are usually incredibly strong pieces of evidence for an investigation and any subsequent legal claim.
- Is your workplace or working site covered by CCTV cameras? If so, your accident may have been recorded on one or more of them. Ask your employer to provide you with a copy of this as soon as possible and certainly within 28 days, otherwise the footage may be wiped or overwritten and lost.
- If there are any witnesses to your accident or its aftermath, speak to them about what they saw or what they remember. Ask them to support you in any investigation that your employer conducts. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for employers to put pressure on their employees to deny that incidents occur.
4. Record your financial losses and expenses
- Have you lost earnings as a result of your accident and any absence from work? Have you lost out on overtime or a potential promotion?
- Keeping a record of your earnings (payslips etc.) will help you to evidence those past and potentially future losses, should you choose to seek legal advice.
- Have any friends or family members had to look after you or do things for you that you would otherwise have done for yourself? Make a record of the time and frequency of this care and assistance, as this too can be claimed.
- Have you had to pay for any medical treatment or medication or medical appointments? If so, keep any invoices and receipts for these costs.
- You can even claim for the costs of a cancelled holiday, or the increased flying costs if you are medically required to have extra legroom seats on trains and planes.
- If in doubt, record it and keep the evidence of the costs – just in case.
5. Choose to seek legal advice
- If you choose to seek legal advice, do not feel obliged to use a solicitor nominated for you by an insurance company or by your Trade Union – it is your choice who represents you and that should be someone who you trust.
- Accidents at work can sometimes give rise to secondary legal enquiries – such as from an employment law specialist where issues over your ability to return to work and potential redundancy or dismissal are concerned. Choosing a law firm that provides a diverse range of legal services may prove to be beneficial in more ways than one.
For a consultation with a serious injury specialist, call Slater and Gordon Lawyers on freephone 0800 916 9060 or contact us online and we’ll be happy to help.
Nicholas Hagi-Savva is a Senior Associate specialising in serious injuries involving accidents at work at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in London.
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