Can I claim for an injury if my employer has ceased trading?

Updated: October 14, 2020

If a business has gone under, ceased trading or entered into administration, it should still be possible to make a personal injury claim against the company, though some circumstances may make this more challenging.

What are your options if you need to make a claim against a company that no longer exists?

What is the company’s legal status?

A company that is no longer in business could mean different things from a legal perspective. Understanding the company's current legal status will be the initial focus of your solicitor.

Ceased trading

This means that the business is no longer trading, perhaps as a result of being struck off the Companies House Register or by simply closing down. Companies do not necessarily cease trading as a result of financial difficulty, so you may still be able to bring a personal injury claim against the directors (for a company) or owners (for an unincorporated organisation).

Administration

When a company enters into administration, it is taken under the management of a licensed insolvency practitioner (the administrator). Under the management of the administrator, the company will be trying to recover financially. This could involve selling assets to raise money to pay creditors, or it could mean closing unprofitable ventures.

Liquidation

Liquidation can be voluntary or compulsory. It can be more challenging to make a claim against a company that has gone into liquidation as, legally speaking, the company no longer exists. One of the challenges involves finding an appropriate point of contact and working out exactly who to claim against.

When a company has gone into liquidation, the usual channels of communication (e.g. phone lines or email) will usually have been shut down. In this circumstance, you should attempt to get in touch with the company’s administrator or liquidator, which can be a challenge in itself as they may be focussed on dealing with creditors.

Your solicitor will usually recommend contacting the company’s employment liability insurers as the next step.

Who should I claim against?

Even if your employer has ceased trading, their employer's liability insurer will still cover the employer's liability.

If your injury or illness was diagnosed after the employer went out of business, but the cause of the injury was during your employment with the company, a claim should still be possible. This can often happen in the case of occupational disease which develops years later and allows former employees to take their case to the employer’s insurer.

Assuming the company had insurance in place (it was breaking the law if it didn't), the success of your case will depend on the strength of your claim. The vast majority of claims are settled out of the courtroom and your solicitor will negotiate on your behalf to get you the best possible compensation settlement.

What if I can't identify the insurer?

The Employers' Liability Tracing Office (ELTO) is a not-for-profit company funded by a membership levy paid annually by the insurance industry. The ELTO offers a free online tracing service that can identify the insurer of a company, even if the company has gone out of business.

What are the stages of making a claim?

Personal injury claims generally follow these steps:

  1. Your solicitor will begin by gathering information about your injury, including the date of the accident or illness, the circumstances surrounding it, the parties responsible and any losses you have incurred as a result.
  2. Your solicitor will then establish who the most relevant party is for your case and get in touch with them - for example, this could be a business, employer or insurance company.
  3. A medical examination will be arranged as part of a report to support your claim.
  4. Negotiations will then begin with the party at fault or their insurer.
  5. Your solicitor will negotiate on your behalf to try to reach a fair settlement. Cases can often take months to resolve. Your solicitor will advise you if they feel that court action will be necessary if negotiations are unsuccessful. Most claims do not go to court, however.

Making a claim may feel daunting, but your personal injury lawyer will be able to explain each step of the process to you and will strive to get you the highest level of compensation as quickly as possible.

Have you been injured at work?

If you have been injured at work in the last 3 years, you may be able to claim financial compensation.

Find out more about making a work accident claim:

  • Do you qualify?
  • How much compensation could you get?
  • How does No Win, No Fee work?
Work accident claim guide