The recent news that the government is set to introduce massive changes in employment rights next year will mean that some workers will suffer real hardship should they have an accident in the workplace and may need to seek the services of a solicitor.
The ‘No Win No Fee’ rules were changed in 1998 (1) and in 2000 the Access to Justice Act (2) came into force, allowing thousands of Britons to take their grievances to a solicitor who would only charge the client should the case be proven successfully. In 2008, 732,750 accident cases went through the courts (3). Despite the abolition of legal aid for personal compensation cases, legal firms including Cheshire solicitors Edwards Hoyle were still able to help those who had suffered an accident at work and could take clients’ cases to court to receive compensation without having to worry about the cost of such a case following expansion of the Act.
Many of the injuries incurred in the workplace can cause long-term suffering and often lead to a future loss of earning capacity. Any case involving an accident compensation claim is covered by the insurance that is taken out by the solicitors, so even if the case is lost the costs are protected by this insurance. Not all cases that are brought to the solicitors will be taken on; one firm estimates that only about 60% of cases brought about by accidents at work ever went to court but there are still many people over the last decade that have been affected by workplace injury. The Health and Safety Executive has recently released figures that show that 4.4million (4) working days were lost due to work accidents. This figure represents any injury however large or small that has affected the UK working population.
Many people are still nervous about taking their employers to court should a workplace incident occur. Following legislation changes, employers have to take accidents seriously and also compensation claims might lead to a constructive change to health and safety practices at the place where the accident occurred. A lot of people do not realise that a minor back injury, for example, could lead to a serious condition in later life, which might entail loss of future work, and therefore the worker might have to take early retirement. A successful outcome to a claim for compensation might protect the injured employee and their family from future financial hardship. A good firm of lawyers will always be realistic about the outcome and offer their professional expertise in order to help the injured party make the right decision about whether to pursue a claim for compensation.
From Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) to falling off a ladder following a lack of training in the correct safety procedures; all employers are responsible for their employee’s safety at work. If an employee has taken out a court action following an accident they are entitled to return to work without any adverse consequences.