What happens if I am injured by a work colleague?

Updated: October 14, 2020

If you sustain an injury or illness at work and your employer was negligent, you could receive financial compensation. But what happens if your injury was caused by another employee?

Duty of Care

In the UK, employers have a legal ‘duty of care’ for the health, safety and wellbeing of their employees. Employers must take reasonable steps to protect their employees from foreseeable harm.

An employers duty of care cannot be delegated or outsourced to another person or organisation. Similarly, this duty cannot fall on another employee.

Vicarious liability

Under the common law principle of ‘vicarious liability’, an employer can be found to be liable for the actions, inactions, negligence or recklessness of one of their employees.

An employer essentially assumes all the risks of wrongdoing by their employee which are incidental to their role.

In some circumstances, an employer can be held liable for the negligent, reckless or deliberate acts of a contractor.

If you sustained an injury or illness at work it is likely that you would take legal action against your employer rather than the individual that caused the accident.

How is vicarious liability established?

When making a claim, your solicitor will first need to establish your employment status i.e. to ensure an employer/employee relationship exists. This may be as simple as providing a copy of your employment contract, although there are other ways this relationship can be demonstrated.

Once the employer/employee relationship is established, the solicitor will need to establish that your employer failed in their duty of care.

If the accident was caused by a work colleague or other employee, the solicitor will examine how the employer may still have failed in their duty of care. The solicitor will ask questions like:

  • Did the employer carry out suitable and regular risk assessments of the work environment?
  • Was the accident in any way foreseeable and if so, were suitable measures taken to remove or manage the risk?
  • Was suitable training provided to the claimant and the other employee?
  • Was the correct safety equipment provided, maintained and used?
  • Was effective safety management and supervision in place at the time of the accident?

Find out more: What is vicarious liability?

Employer’s Liability Insurance

All UK employers are required to have employer’s liability insurance (EL) for a minimum of £5m cover. Employer's liability insurance exists to make sure that critical compensation is available for employees injured in the course of their work.

Once your solicitor has ascertained that vicarious liability can be demonstrated, a claim would be pursued against your employer’s insurer.

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