I have just cut the tip of my finger off using an old machine at work that is always causing problems. Everyone is saying I should claim but I am worried. Please tell me simply how it works to help me decide.

This is a good example of the sort of question we get asked quite often! There is a lot of information out there about claiming but it is often difficult to understand and leaves clients more worried than before. This is how I personally advise work accident clients… simply! I think the best way to do this is to answer the most common questions.

1. Is it my fault?

You will only be able to make a claim if your employer is at fault. In the case above it would seem that an old machine has become defective. If this is the case then you will win your claim. Your employers have a duty to have safe machinery and inspect and repair it to avoid accidents. If they don’t do that you will win.

2. How much does it cost?

In real terms you’re not paying out for anything. The legal work is done on a no win no fee basis so your lawyer only gets paid for those legal costs if they win your case. They are paid by your employer’s insurers and a pre-agreed percentage of any compensation you are awarded.

3. What can I claim?

You can recover any financial loss that follows from the accident and your injury. Normally this is loss of earnings but can extend to things such as the cost of your spouse caring for you whilst recovering, the cost of medical aids, the cost of artificial finger parts if needed and any other financial loss. Also of course you can recover compensation for pain suffering and loss of amenity. Just to give you an idea the present rate for partial loss of your index finger is in the region of £8,700 to £13,400 depending on how severe the loss and symptoms.

4. Will I be sacked?

This is unlikely. If you have been employed for more than 2 years continuously then you have full protection of employment and cannot be dismissed other than for a fair reason. If your employers dismissed you for claiming then you would have another claim against them for compensation for unfair dismissal. In other words they would probably be opening themselves up for another claim from you if they do this.

5. I like my employer and feel uncomfortable making them pay.

Remember every employer MUST have full insurance against this kind of thing. So it will not be your employer that pays but their insurers. Quite often employers believe that if a claim is made they will not be able to get insurance or it will increase massively. This is NOT the case. There may be a small rise in the premium next time and they may have to make changes (such as getting rid of this old machine) but that is a small price to pay compared to the size of your claim.

6. How long will it take?

That depends upon a few things. Firstly your injury needs to “settle” so that a Doctor can see how it has affected you and can give an accurate idea as to how it will affect you in future. They will then write a report. If they think you need more time or even more treatment and operations then you should wait.

Secondly it depends on whether the insurers admit liability or want to fight. It can take well over a year to get a case to trial if it has to go that far.

If your injury resolves to its best point quickly and there is no real fight from the insurers then it could all be over in a matter of a few months.

Conclusion

I hope this has been helpful to simply explain that anyone suffering an accident at work can claim and has excellent prospects of winning their case.

It is not difficult, it will not get you in trouble and it is right that you are compensated.