Can I make a work accident claim as a contractor?

Updated: March 20, 2020

More than 2 million people in the UK work as contractors. If you do not have a traditional employment contract and you are injured at work, your employment status does not necessarily prevent you make a compensation claim.

Am I a contractor?

You are likely to be a contractor if you are not directly employed by the company operating the workplace. You may also be a contractor if any of the following apply:

  • You are working on multiple jobs at the same time
  • You work for several different companies
  • You bring your own tools or personal protective equipment (PPE)

Are all contractors self-employed?

Not necessarily. Many contractors are self-employed, but not all. For example, you may work for a small plumbing company that is contracted to work on several jobs at any one time.

If you are a contractor that is employed by a company, and you are injured while working on a site operated by another business, the company you would claim compensation against will depend on the circumstances.

When can a contractor claim compensation?

All employers owe a duty of care to their employees. This duty extends to visitors, members of the public, agency workers, self-employed workers, contractors and anyone else in the employer's workplace.

There is a raft of legislation setting out employers' obligations and employees rights in the UK. The primary pieces of legislation are the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

Your eligibility to claim compensation as a contractor will, however, depend on the circumstances of the accident.

I was working on another company's premises when I was injured

If you were injured in a workplace which was operated by another company, you may be able to claim financial compensation. Whether you are a temporary office worker or a plumber on a building site, the company responsible for the workplace will owe you a duty of care.

Your eligibility to make a claim may depend on whether the accident was out of your control. For example, you may have been injured on unsafe scaffolding that was erected by the employer. A claim would also be possible if your injury occurred as a result of the actions or inactions of another employee or contractor.

I was hurt by defective equipment

A claim may be possible if you were injured by defective equipment, tools or personal protective equipment (PPE) supplied by the company.

If the equipment was supplied by another party, such as a property developer, you may be able to claim on the basis of 'strict liability'. Strict liability means that you will not have to prove that the company was negligent - only that the defective equipment led to your injury.

If you were injured by your own equipment, you may still be able to make a claim on the basis of strict liability. In this case, you would claim against the retailer that sold you the product, the manufacturer or the distributor.

I was injured when working at on public property or at home

Whether you can claim compensation under these circumstances will depend on the cause of your accident. If another party was responsible for your accident, and they owed you a duty of care, you may be able to make a claim.

If your injury resulted from defective equipment supplied by the employer or was due to the negligence of another employee, a claim should still be possible.

What to do if you have been injured working as a contractor

Reporting a work accident as a contractor

When you report the accident, you should give as much information as you can about what happened, and about any injuries you have suffered.

If you remember anything about the accident after the report is filed, you should notify the site operator (or your employer) in writing (e.g. by email).

Make your own notes of what happened

Even if you have a copy of the official accident book record of your accident, you should still write your own account of what happened, and keep copies of any paperwork. It is much easier to gather information like names and contact details of witnesses and photos of the accident scene if you act quickly.

Seek medical attention

Seeking medical attention as soon as possible after the accident is critical. Even if you have been given first aid treatment by an on-site first aider, you should still make an appointment to see your GP.

Seeing a medical expert will help to ensure your injuries do not become worse or develop into chronic conditions. Head injuries and manual handling injuries like back injuries, in particular, can cause serious issues if untreated.

You will also have accurate medical records to support an injury claim if you decide to make one at a later date.

How much compensation could I claim when injured working as a contractor?

Injury compensation is worked out using an official table of guideline amounts. More serious injuries (including those which will have a significant impact on someone's life and ability to work) will be awarded more compensation. It is possible to claim for multiple injuries.

During the claims process, your solicitor will arrange for an assessment of your injuries to determine the level of compensation. To get an estimate of the amount you could receive, you can use our injury compensation calculator.

You can also claim for lost earnings, property damage and other costs, like travel expenses and the cost of adjustments to your home.

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