When you are in the workplace, your employer has a responsibility to ensure your safety. If something happens to you while at work, then there are several things you need to do. Your company may not be responsible, of course. But, if they haven’t taken your safety seriously, you have every right to challenge them about it. Here’s an in-depth guide on everything you need to do.
Your first step is to report the accident, as soon as you can. You will need to tell your employer, and make sure the details of the incident are recorded in the company accident book. You should also notify your union if you are a member of one. It’s essential that you enter the right details in the accident book, for clarity at a later stage. It’s evidence for you, and protection for the employer. But, it’s your responsibility to make sure that if you ever make a claim, your initial account is as accurate as possible.
There is plenty of proof of any accident, no matter how minor it is. If you have tripped over a hazard in a corridor, for example, then you could take a picture of it. You might have written correspondence between you and your employer about the incident. There may be tools that were involved in the accident, which you need to keep for later inspection. There’s a lot to think about, and it’s essential that you gather as much evidence as you possibly can. It will be up to you to prove your employer is at fault in most cases.
See your doctor
You need to get a medical checkup, regardless of whether you are in pain or not. A bang on the head may not feel like much, but it can develop into something serious within a few days. It’s better to be safe than sorry! It’s also important that you have a record of visiting your doctor that you can use if you make a claim. Your employer also has a responsibility to ensure you get to a hospital if you need to. That could mean phoning for an ambulance, or getting you a cab to see your doctor. Don’t feel embarrassed about accepting help – it’s a legal rule for your boss, so there is no need.
Make a claim
If you believe you have been injured in your employer’s care, then you should always seek out a personal injury firm to represent you. You could go through the courts yourself, but unless it is an open and shut case, it’s unlikely you will get the reward you deserve. Company profits tend to buy better legal teams than you can provide yourself, so going with a reputable attorney should pay off a lot more. Your lawyer will go through everything with you, including looking at your evidence. They will inform your employer of your intention to push a claim through, and, should it come to it, represent you in a courtroom.
Dealing with investigations
The second your employer understands you will be making a claim; it is likely they will start an inquiry. This could happen with the company’s HR team, or it could be through their insurance cover. Your employer may also have access to a lawyer. You should expect a fight. Both sides will expect a certain result in most cases, and the decision will tend to go somewhere in the middle. But, there will be plenty of investigations where you will be quizzed about your accident. It is essential that you cooperate as much as you can, and deal with the investigation in a pleasant and straightforward manner. Stick to the facts, and avoid trying to pin any blame on anyone – just tell your story as it happened. It’s important to understand that this is the only time you should talk to your employer or their representative about your case. Those conversations should be left at the accident book stage, as they could undermine your case.
Your employer’s representatives may want you to have a medical examination as well. Again, it’s important to go along with this. It will be tough at times, and you might have to visit more than one doctor, in different areas of the country. However, if it’s too much for you, your lawyer should be able to fight your corner a little.
If you need to stay off sick, do so. Don’t feel like you have to push yourself back to work in a rush. The vast majority of employers will be fine with this – and they will expect it, too. But, if you feel under pressure to come back to work, make sure you make a note of all conversations you have. Tell your lawyer, too – it won’t look good for your employer. During your time off, you will be able to assess your situation and plan what you will do next.
Most accidents at work are settled out of court. Your team and your employer’s team will throw around some figures and come up with a suitable amount that you are both happy with. In most cases, you will be asked to sign a nondisclosure agreement after the event, which prevents you from taking any further action. But, if you have had a good payout, then that won’t be too much hardship. In some cases, you might have to end up in court. It’s unusual for this to happen because it will look bad on your employer in the public eye. However, you should always bear in mind that it is a possibility.
As you can see, there are lots of different things you need to think about if you have an accident at work. Make sure you have as much about the incident written down as possible, and find yourself a good lawyer. The rest should take care of itself. It can be a long road – some cases take years to complete – but hang in there and you should get your result. Good luck!