'It was just an accident' - Can I still claim compensation?

Updated: October 16, 2020

Usually, yes. If you were injured at work in an accident and no one else was obviously to blame, you may still be able to claim compensation.

If your employer was negligent and you were injured at work as a result of that negligence, you have a right to claim compensation. This article explains how your right to claim is affected if 'it was just an accident'.

My accident wasn't anyone's fault

It is possible for you to be responsible for your own injuries. For example, if you tripped on your own undone shoelaces, you would most likely be responsible for your own injuries, and a legal claim would not be possible.

However, what seems like an accident can sometimes be a result of the failure of another party’s duty of care. In the UK, you can make a personal injury claim if:

  • A company, person or other organisation owed you a legal ‘duty of care’, and
  • Your injury was caused by the actions, omissions or negligence of that party.

For example, you might have been injured by a beach cafe parasol blowing over in a strong wind. The cafe owner can't control the weather, but they can weigh down their parasols.

A strong wind is a foreseeable event and, as such, the cafe owner should have taken suitable measures to ensure that the parasol can stand up to adverse weather. In this example, you could pursue a public liability claim against the cafe owner.

Work accidents are different

The health and safety of UK workers are protected by decades of laws and regulations, from the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.

In aggregate, the legislation makes employers clearly responsible for the safety and wellbeing of their employees.

Employers must manage risks

An employer must carry out thorough risk assessments of their employees' working environment. Any risks identified must be either removed or minimised. The correct training and safety equipment must be provided, and the workplaces should be supervised.

An employer's responsibility exists even when an employee is working away from company premises or even working from home.

If an employer fails in their duty, and an employee is injured, it will be possible to pursue a claim.

Many work accidents are avoidable

In the context of a work accident, it is often the case that an employer is responsible for what might seem like an accident on face value.

Many accidents are foreseeable and preventable if a comprehensive risk assessment has been carried out. Training, supervision and protective equipment should take into account for even the smallest risks.

Even if you were behaving recklessly or not complying with a company safety policy, it may be that a supervisor should have picked this up or a safety measure should still have protected you.

Can I still claim if a colleague caused my injury?

Yes. If your injury resulted from a colleague's recklessness, non-compliance or negligence, your employer would still be liable under the principle of vicarious liability.

The legal principle of vicarious liability means that an employer is legally responsible for the actions (or inaction) of all their workers. The principle of vicarious liability will also apply to the actions of contractors or visitors in certain cases.

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