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The number of people injured or killed at their place of work in Great Britain is hugely underestimated. According to an HSE report, two thirds of business leaders believe that fewer than 5,000 British workers are killed or seriously injured every year. The true toll is closer to a staggering 54 times that number. While the figures show that agriculture, forestry and fishing remain the riskiest industry sectors, construction is almost as lethal.
Construction industry lawyers know just how dangerous building sites can be. Workers on-site face numerous day-to-day hazards including falling materials, dangerous and defective machinery and power tools, falling from ladders, lifts, hoists and scaffolding, collapsing trenches, walls and foundations not to mention simple mishaps like slipping or tripping. All these can all lead to serious, often fatal, personal injury.
Many workers may be unsure if they can make a construction injury claim. Perhaps they are reluctant to take action against an employer or uncertain about how their employment status may affect their case, but that should not deter you from seeking legal redress if the accident was not your fault.
At Access Legal, our specialist construction injury lawyers have helped many clients with construction injury claims, recovering compensation for loss of income, any medical costs incurred and rehabilitation needed. We can talk you through all of the options open to you, explaining the process of making a construction claim in plain English.
Can I claim if I am self-employed?
Many self-employed tradespeople involved in the construction trade may mistakenly believe that, as they do not have an employer they are responsible for their own health and safety and must therefore always be responsible for any accident they have at work.
Of course, in some circumstances this may be true, but the self-employed are often working as contractors with no control over their working conditions or act under the control of a third party in the same way as an employee. Some self-employed have invested in insurance schemes which give some financial security when they are unable to work due to ill-health.
Many more do not have such a financial safety net in place so if they suffer a construction injury their inability to work will have a much greater impact on their family finances than it would for an employee. The misconception that self-employed tradespeople cannot make a construction injury claim can mean that they don’t approach a solicitor or only do so when their finances are in dire straits.
A construction accident claim is possible even if you are self-employed. Access Legal’s solicitors can often obtain an interim payment if and when the defendant admits liability for the accident as long as there is enough paperwork to support a claim for lost earnings. If any self-employed person working in construction has suffered an injury on site, they should contact Access Legal’s specialist team as soon as possible, irrespective of the state of their financial paperwork
Government help and benefits for construction accidents and injuries
Help is available to those who may have suffered injury as a result of a construction accident or injury, but that support is largely dependent on the nature and extent of the injuries the degree of any consequent disability. The fact that the accident took place at work on site does not necessarily entitle you to any support or benefits.
You can get guidance on what benefits may be available and how to apply for them from your GP or bodies such as the Citizens Advice Bureau. Some local authorities may have a welfare rights advisory service but in order to find out exactly what you are entitled to, whether you are an employee or self-employed, it is best to contact your local Jobcentre Plus.
There have been many changes to benefits introduced recently, but in general, benefits are either means-tested, based on current income and savings, or based on your National Insurance (NI) contributions and an assessment of the level of your disability.
Means-tested benefits may include income-related employment and support allowance, housing benefit and council tax relief. Benefits based on assessment of your disability can include disability living allowance/personal independence payment and industrial injuries disablement benefit as well as help to buy or hire specialised mobility equipment.
If I have a construction injury case
Establishing whether you have a case for making a construction accident claim requires exactly the same effort and evidence as any other claim for personal injury. Access Legal’s expert construction injury lawyers need to prove that a breach of the duty owed to you by your employer took place and that this failure on their part directly caused the injury you suffered.
The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 as well as British and European standards, all clearly outline and define an employer’s responsibilities to you. If Access Legal can prove on the balance of probabilities that your employer breached these guidelines and you have suffered as a result, your claim is likely to succeed.
In certain circumstances, even if you think you may have been partly to blame for your construction accident (known as contributory negligence) you may still be able to claim injury compensation. Even if a co-worker was to blame for your accident, you can claim against your employer as they are deemed liable for the actions of employees and obliged to carry insurance that covers the negligence of work colleagues.
In either case, there is a standard three year time limit within which you can file a construction accident claim. If you have not initiated legal proceedings within those three years, your case may be considered to be time-barred and you may not be entitled to any compensation.
More about construction injury claims
As with all kinds of personal injury and accident compensation cases, making a successful construction accident claim depends on being able to prove that your injury was due to the negligence of your employer.
Previously in these sort of claims, the very fact of the accident was enough for the employer to be considered liable and at fault. However, changes to the law mean that the onus is now on you (the claimant) to prove that your employer was indeed negligent and that lead to you sustaining an injury.
Proving that your employer was at fault means that evidence must be gathered to support your claim. That is why it is important to work with expert construction injury lawyers who can assist you in assembling all the evidence required and present it convincingly.
Employers are required by law to ensure the health and safety of their employees as far as is reasonably practicable. This includes taking steps to manage and control foreseeable risks in the workplace. Of course, workers also have a duty not to put themselves in danger and must use any safety equipment provided, assuming adequate instruction has been given and any personal protective equipment is fit for purpose.
If your employer has breached their general and any specific duty of care towards you while working on-site and you are injured as a consequence, you may be able to make a construction injury claim. The relative of a person who has died as a result of a construction accident can also seek legal redress.
I deal with civil litigation for individuals whose claims involve complex liability issues as well as leading a team of lawyers within our Serious Injuries Unit who deal with high value personal injury litigation.View full profile
I am National Head of the Personal Injury team in Access Legal Solicitors, I have been a personal injury lawyer for over 26 years and I act for individuals who have sustained injuries that have had a significant impact on their quality of life and a lasting impact on their family.View full profile
‘I was impressed by the way Access Legal handled my case and always kept me informed. They were professional and extremely supportive throughout’
Our expert construction injury lawyers will be happy to talk you through the process of making a construction accident claim and answer any questions or queries you may have.Why Access Legal