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

Updated: October 18, 2022

Witness statements can provide key evidence to support a work injury claim. However, you can still usually claim compensation if there were no witnesses to your accident.

See also: Claiming compensation after a work injury

Duty of care

Employers owe a legal ‘duty of care’ to their employees.

This duty of care means that employers are legally obliged to protect workers from anything that may cause harm. Risks that could result in injury must be identified and mitigated.

If your employer failed in their duty of care and you were injured as a result, it should be possible to claim financial compensation.

A compensation claim will often be easier to win if the claim is supported by independent witness statements, such as a member of the public.

If you were injured at work and there were no witnesses, however, it doesn't necessarily mean that your claim will not succeed.

Who can be a witness?

A witness could be anyone who saw your accident happen, or anyone who was familiar with the circumstances that led to your accident.

A witness can be:

  • An independent witness - someone who saw the accident occur but does not know you (or any other party involved) personally. An independent witness could be an bystander, contractor or member of the public.
  • An involved witness - is someone who saw the accident occur but was involved in some way, e.g. a colleague who witnessed the accident but was involved or possibly also injured.

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

What if no one witnessed my accident?

A witness could be someone who might not have seen your accident occur, but had knowledge of the circumstances or hazards that contributed to the accident.

If an accident occurred in a warehouse, for example, a witness could be someone who was aware that pallets were often stacked in an unsafe manner.

A colleague might be able to provide evidence about an employer's negligence that resulted in an accident. Family members and friends may also be able to comment on the impact an injury has had on your life.

The balance of probabilities

If there were no direct eyewitnesses to your accident, you may still be able to make a successful personal injury claim.

Civil claims (including personal injury claims) are decided on a balance of probabilities. This means determining whether the claimant’s account of events is more likely than the defendant’s account.

Even if the balance of probabilities is only assessed as 51% to 49% in your favour, your claim would still succeed.

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

Other evidence

There are numerous other ways to support a claimant's version of events, 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

What if a witness refuses to give evidence?

On occasion a witness may be reluctant to come forward and give evidence.

With work accidents a witness might, for example, be anxious about losing their job if they act as a witness. Your solicitor will contact the witness and explain that employers are not allowed to discriminate against witnesses.

A witness might also be worried about going to court. Again, your solicitor would contact the witness and request a written account of events, which could help a case to be settled quickly. The solicitor will also explain that very few cases end up in court (around 1%).

See also: What happens if my injury claim goes to 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?

Read more: Work accident claim guide

Get the right advice

Our work injury advisors will:

  • Offer free, impartial advice
  • Explain how No Win, No Fee works
  • Recommend the right solicitor
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