Personal Injury

A guide to construction accident claims

Do you know what to do if you’ve been injured on a construction site due to negligence? We take you through your rights and what to consider after a construction accident.

11 October 2023

man working in construction writing on pad

Construction sites can be very dangerous places if safety is not taken seriously. Whilst the UK has some of the strictest safety laws in the world, the number of accidents in construction each year remains high, and the lasting impact of such accidents can be complex and distressing.

According to market research carried out by Slater and Gordon, nearly 80% of those working in physical construction have suffered injuries due to accidents in the workplace. Concerningly, whilst we found that the average loss in earnings amounted to £5,262 - with one-in-ten losing out on more than £10,000 - less than a third (30%) ever make a claim.

For many, the reluctance to pursue a construction accident claim comes as a result of a belief that their injury was not severe enough to warrant a claim, despite the level of income lost during their recovery.

What construction injuries can I claim for?

Whilst it may be easy to understand how construction sites remain among Britain’s most dangerous places to work, that doesn’t mean any and all action cannot, or should not, be undertaken to reduce the risk of injury.

The most common circumstances leading to construction injuries are:

  • Use of defective equipment
  • Electrocution
  • Falling objects, or falls from scaffolding/heights
  • Forklift injuries
  • Health and safety violations

This is certainly not an extensive list; other injuries occur due to inadequate safety briefings, poor site layout, chemical spillages, unsafe plant and machinery, safety harness failure, and more.

If you’ve been injured in a construction site accident, we strongly advise you to contact a member of our team, all of whom are experts in construction accidents claims and will be able to provide you with advice and guidance on how best to proceed.

What should I do if I’ve sustained an injury in construction?

If you’ve been injured - regardless of how trivial you believe it may be - you should seek medical attention. Speak to the first aid officer on site or, in case of serious injury, seek professional medical help at a hospital.

You then need to ensure that your accident has been properly reported. Speak to your supervisor or employer as soon as possible, and fill out any accident book. You must also make sure that your employer fills out a ‘RIDDOR’ (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations) report and filed with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) when applicable.

Collect as much information about the accident as you can. If possible, take photos of the scene, as well as gathering the details of any witnesses and ensure to include your own recollection of what happened (relying entirely on memories can be unreliable and confusing). All of this information will be helpful if you decide to pursue legal action at a later date.

Note all your expenses that build up due to your injury in a diary and keep receipts. These will be extremely beneficial when calculating the value of your claim as such costs can be reimbursed.

If you didn’t seek medical attention immediately after the injury, visit your GP to report any symptoms as soon as possible, as this will ensure the injuries are officially recorded.

It’s important that you know your rights after experiencing an accident on a construction site. Having an informed understanding of what these are will help you to decide whether you can, or would like to pursue legal action to compensate you for your injuries, rehabilitation and loss of earnings.

What are my legal rights after an accident on a construction site?

Most importantly, everyone has a right to be safe at work. Construction is an inherently risky industry so employers must take every reasonable step possible to protect their employees. Numerous regulations exist to protect you in the course of your work; the most common of these are referred to as the Six Pack Health and Safety Regulations.

Your employer, as well as any other contractors on site, have a legal obligation to comply with legislation on health and safety. They must also ensure that they have employers liability insurance in the event that an employee is injured and pursues a claim.

When it comes to considering making a claim against their employer, many people may be concerned about the ramifications. It is illegal for your employer to dismiss you as a result of an injury claim against them. For more information on your legal rights should your employer begin to treat you unfairly, or even threaten to dismiss you, for bringing forward a personal injury claim, visit our advice here.

Before making any decision, however, it is always best to speak to a specialised solicitor for advice. They will be able to give you more information about your particular case, what your rights are, and if they think that you have a right to pursue a claim.

Who is responsible for construction site safety?

It’s unlikely that there is one single person responsible for site safety. Maintaining a safe work environment is the responsibility of everyone present, though those in more senior positions should ensure regulations are being followed, the correct equipment has been supplied and thorough training is in place for all employees.

This could include the construction company themselves, the architect, the constructions regulations coordinator, and the site manager. The list could even include independent contractors if they are working on site, and equipment manufacturers.

What’s important is that everyone present is able to follow the safety procedures effectively and accurately to ensure the safest possible work environment for all. If regulations are not followed, and you are injured as a result of negligence, you may have a right to make a construction injury claim.

What is employers liability insurance?

Simply put, employers liability insurance is a policy designed to facilitate the payment of compensation in the event an employee is injured or made ill as a result of their work.

Critically, it is a legal requirement for companies to have employers liability insurance, with the exception of public service employers, family firms where all employees are related, and businesses that only employ the owner or one employee abroad.

Though the insurance is for employers, it is designed to protect employees. It does this by ensuring a legal minimum is available to pay employees in each claim. Currently, under the Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969, every employer in the UK must have liability insurance of at least £5 million for each claim brought against them, issued by an insurer regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

In cases where the employer has been found to be seriously negligent, many insurance companies reserve the right to sue and reclaim the cost of the compensation paid to employees from the employer directly.

What should I do next?

Experiencing an injury at work can be a distressing and challenging time. It is understandable that you may be concerned about the time needed for recovery, rehabilitation, and the loss of income as a result.

At Slater and Gordon, our specialist personal injury solicitors are here to support you. Our team provides a sympathetic, professional and honest approach to each case, and can provide a wealth of guidance and advice to ensure you are able to make the right decision for you.

If you’ve been injured at a construction site and believe negligence may have been the cause, contact us online today or call 0330 041 5869 to speak to one of our experts.

For more advice for construction workers, visit our legal hub.

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