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Your rights after a forklift accident at work EXPLAINED

DESPITE the introduction of stringent legislation, the number of serious forklift accidents at work continues to rise.

According to data shared at the Safety & Health Expo in May 2019, incidents have risen by almost a third in the last 12 months – from 1,000 to 1,300.

Sadly, an average of five people a day are taken to hospital suffering from life-changing injuries caused by accidents related to forklifts.

Often this has a massively detrimental impact on the injured person’s family, financial situation and overall quality of life – mainly due to their loss of earnings.

If you or a loved one have been adversely affected by a forklift accident at work, it is completely unacceptable.

Should the worst happen, knowing ALL your rights could help to protect you from money worries – even if only for a short time whilst you recover.

How do I report accident?

Check there is no immediate risk of danger and ensure any injured people receive the appropriate medical assistance required.

Report the incident to a manager or supervisor and record the details in company’s log or accident book, in accordance with The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR).

If your employer refuses to record your incident, write down the details of what happened and send it to them in a letter or email whilst retaining a copy for yourself.

Your employer may also be required to report the accident to the HSE via their website or telephone service so that an investigation can be carried out, if necessary. This applies to all serious or fatal incidents, and all accidents where the employee has been absent from work for a period of seven consecutive days.

Am I responsible for the accident or is my employer?

Your employer has a ‘duty of care’ to you and MUST take all reasonable steps possible to protect your health and safety whilst at work – including ALL spaces or locations where you are required to work as a part of your job.

At the same time all employees also have a legal duty to take care of their own safety.

Can I be dismissed?

Under UK employment law, your employer cannot dismiss you solely on the basis of becoming the victim of an accident at work.

If they do sack you after suffering a forklift accident at work, or following an absence from work due to a related injury or illness, you may be able to sue for unfair dismissal. However, prolonged periods of time off work, even if due to an accident at work, can in certain circumstances justify a termination of employment.

If you bring a claim for compensation against your employer after having a forklift accident at work, they cannot sack you simply for this reason. If they do, and you’ve been employed for more than two years, you may also have a case for unfair dismissal.

Will I still get paid? Will I get sick pay?

If you are injured or ill as a result of a forklift accident at work, it is likely you’ll need to take time off for treatment or to recover.

Under the terms of your employment contract, you may not be entitled to your full pay during this time.

You may only be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) which is currently set at £89.35 for up to 28 weeks.

Depending on your employers’ sick pay policy, they may top this up with additional sickness benefits so you do not end up out of pocket.

Unfortunately, not all employees will be entitled to this.

Can I recover my lost earnings?

In most cases, the answer is yes – because an accident or injury you’ve suffered at work should never affect your financial situation.

If you end up out of pocket because of a forklift accident at work, you may be able to claim for loss of earnings by making a compensation claim.

At Hudgell Solicitors, we regularly represent commercial vehicle drivers, forklift operators and other employees who have been injured and are left unable to work.

If you received SSP, this will be taken into account before any compensation settlement is awarded.

Am I entitled to claim any compensation?

If your employer did not take appropriate steps to prevent an injury or illness you suffered because of a forklift accident, you may be entitled to compensation for:

  • Your pain and suffering
  • Any long-term consequences
  • Loss of earnings, overtime or bonus
  • Future losses – if you have to stop work completely
  • Treatment – physiotherapy, chiropractor, osteopath etc
  • Psychological or emotional distress
  • Supports aids or home adaptations
  • Care or assistance fees
  • Medication

To discover more about your accident at work rights, please get in touch for free legal advice. Strict time limits can apply to some cases.

Will my employer’s future be affected?

By law, your workplace MUST have employer’s liability insurance.

This is designed to protect them if they are found to have acted negligently or breached regulations

Usually an accident at work claim due to fault of the employer is covered by this policy and, for the most part, the insurer will foot the bill for any compensation settlement.

Can I get free legal advice?

Yes. If you’ve suffered a workplace accident and you’re unsure about your rights, you should not suffer in silence.

Sometimes, there are time limits which apply to the legal process and it’s important to seek expert advice as soon as possible.

At Hudgell Solicitors, we can provide a free initial consultation to help you decide if legal action is the right course of action to take, based on the strength of your case.

We have a proven track record for helping bereaved families and people who have suffered serious or life-changing injuries.

Our main priority is to get your life back on track by helping you access any specialist rehabilitation or medical care, but we will also fight hard to recover the maximum compensation.

Should you wish to find out more about this proactive approach, please get in touch – we’ll be happy to help.

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