Can I claim work injury compensation if there were no witnesses?

Updated: October 9, 2020

If you have an accident and wish to claim compensation, witness statements can provide key evidence to help support your claim. However, you will usually be able to claim work injury compensation, even if there are no witnesses.

Duty of Care

Employers owe a legal ‘duty of care’ to their employees. This means that employers are legally obliged to protect workers from anything that may cause harm. Risks to injury or health in the workplace must be controlled.

If your employer failed in their duty of care and you were injured as a result, it should be possible to claim compensation. A compensation claim will be stronger if it includes independent witness statements, such as a co-worker, but it is still possible to pursue a claim without witnesses.

Who can be a witness?

A witness is usually someone who saw an accident happen. With work accidents, a witness could be a colleague, independent contractor or even a member of the public.

Injuries or illnesses can result from prolonged exposure e.g. noise, asbestos, hazardous chemicals etc. In this case, a witness could be a colleague or anyone who was employed at the same time as you.

What if nobody saw the accident?

Even if nobody saw the accident take place, witnesses can still provide useful evidence in support of a claim. A witness could be someone who did not see an accident happen but had knowledge of the circumstances or hazards that led to it. For example, if an accident occurred in a warehouse, a witness could be someone who could testify that pallets were stacked in an unsafe manner.

A colleague might be able to provide evidence about company malpractice that led to the accident, and family and friends may be able to comment on the impact an injury has had on a person’s life.

The ‘balance of probabilities’

Even if there are no direct eyewitnesses to an accident, you can still make a successful personal injury claim.

Civil claims (including personal injury claims) are decided on ‘the balance of probabilities’, which means determining whether the claimant’s account is more likely than the defendant’s, even if that balance is only 51%/49%.

An eyewitness account is not always necessary, as it is possible to prove the balance of probability with medical statements and expert witnesses that can corroborate a claimant’s account of their injury.

Other evidence

There are other ways that you can support and strengthen a claim, including:

  • Taking photos of the scene of the accident and your injuries
  • Obtaining CCTV footage of the accident
  • Recording your accident in the accident book, even if there are no witnesses (a colleague may do this on your behalf if you are unable to).

What if a witness refuses to give evidence?

There can be occasions where someone has witnessed an accident but may be reluctant to come forward and give evidence. In the case of a work accident, a witness may worry about losing their job. Your solicitor will contact the witness and explain that employers are not allowed to discriminate against witnesses.

A witness might be worried about going to court. Your solicitor can contact the witness and request a written account of events, which could help a case to be settled out of court.

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