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Accidents at Work. Who is to Blame?
One of the first things that any law student learns is who owes a "duty of care." Anyone who has studied the law - will remember a case about a snail in a bottle of ginger beer.
Lawyers dealing with accidents at work don't need to think too much about that case because it's quite clear that an employer owes an employee a duty of care.
But what does that mean? In the simplest terms, it means that an employer is expected to take steps to try to prevent their employees from getting injured.
This does not mean that anyone who suffers an injury in the workplace is entitled to compensation. An injured person has to prove that the employer who owed them a duty of care has actually breached that duty and caused their injury as a result.
An employer must have employers’ liability insurance in place because like motor insurance, it is compulsory. But that does not mean an injured person is entitled to compensation simply because they were injured. In order for someone injured at work to recover compensation, it is necessary to prove that the employer is to blame.
This is where our employers’ liability experts at Slater and Gordon Lawyers can help. Accidents will happen, and it can sometimes be very difficult to prove that an employer is to blame. However, our lawyers have many years of experience investigating accident circumstances and proving that injuries suffered by our clients could actually have been prevented.
When an accident happens, it is easy to blame yourself. If you trip over and fall, it can be embarrassing as well as painful, and one's immediate reaction to this is to shrug it off and tell yourself that you should be more careful next time.
Employers will often argue that an injured person is the "author of their own misfortune." But when employers fail to train their employees properly, do not provide them with safety equipment, provide them with equipment that does not work properly, or fail to have proper systems of inspection and cleaning in place, the blame really lies with them.
Our job as lawyers involves investigating the systems of work in place, and highlighting how these systems can be improved to minimise the risk of future accidents from occurring.
Employers get to insist what time we start and finish work, when we have lunch breaks, what equipment we can use, and how much we get paid. As personal injury lawyers, we insist that our clients are kept safe while they are hard at work.
John Reeder is a Senior Personal Injury Lawyer based at Fentons Solicitors, Part of Slater and Gordon, in London
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