By Daniel Janeway. Last Updated 13th May 2022. Being injured at work can be frightening, humiliating and painful. The last thing you need to deal with is the threat of being sacked because of it when it wasn’t your fault. As an employee, you may be worried that your contract will be terminated after an accident in the workplace that wasn’t your fault. You might even be considering not saying anything about your injuries out of fear. If you are asking the question ‘can I be sacked for having an accident at work?’ this article can help.
We explain the law around an injury at work and how you could claim for unfair dismissal if your boss tries to sack you after an accident that was not your fault. You can reach out to our advisors if you’d like free legal advice on your options. Simply:
Select A Section
- Can I Be Sacked For Having An Accident At Work?
- Dismissal And Employment Status
- Was I Fairly Or Unfairly Dismissed?
- What To Do If You’re Dismissed After An Accident At Work
- Employee Rights
- Types Of Accidents In The Workplace
- Accident At Work Compensation Calculator
- Can I Be Sacked For Having An Accident At Work? Check With A Solicitor
- Can I Be Sacked For Having An Accident At Work?: Where To Read More
All workplaces have to comply with legislation to be as safe for employees as reasonably possible. These expectations are outlined in the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. If your employer fails to conduct regular risk assessments or doesn’t do what they reasonably can to safeguard you at work and you are harmed as a result, they could be liable for your injuries.
Employees also have a legal requirement to do all they reasonably can to be safe at work. Despite this, statistics show that accidents can still be common in the workplace. If you were injured because of a failure in training, or because of poor machinery you were asked to use despite your employer’s knowledge of its faults, or subpar operational standards, you could pursue a claim for damages without fear of losing your job over it.
Proof that your employer sacked you because of your claim (even though it was honest) could be grounds for separate action for compensation under an unfair dismissal claim.
If you have any queries, why not contact our advisors? They’re available 24/7 and give free legal advice.
Every employee is entitled to a written statement of the main terms of employment from their employer, but many provide a contract of employment. If you work under an employment contract, you’re seen as an employee.
In addition to outlining their duties, the contract usually describes what the employee can expect from the employer with regards to rates of pay, holiday, sickness and pensions. It may also outline terms of dismissal.
However, an employer can’t dismiss you for making an honest claim against them.
You could have grounds to make a compensation claim if:
- There is a duty of care in place
- That duty of care was breached
- You suffered injuries as a consequence
Contract details vary for different types of workers including full-time staff, contract workers and agency staff. However, regardless of which type of employment contract you have, something worth highlighting to those asking ‘can I be sacked for having an accident at work?’ is that your employer doesn’t have the legal right to do so if the accident wasn’t your fault. Even if you suffer severe injuries as a result, an employer cannot legally dismiss you for a work accident that you didn’t cause.
However, you need to be sure that the injuries were not the result of some activity that you shouldn’t have been doing. Under such circumstances, your employer may not be responsible for your injuries. Furthermore, in cases of gross misconduct, you may be liable for dismissal and have no valid claim for unfair dismissal.
Each scenario around cases such as this can differ. Some people are quite rightly disciplined if it is clear that they breached the terms of their contract of employment to a serious enough degree. Other workers may be suspended while the outcome of a tribunal is decided. Whatever the exact circumstances of your case, a claim for injury is separate.
If you can prove that you directly suffered an injury because of something your employer breached their duty of care, you could have grounds to make a compensation claim. This is separate from a claim of unfair or wrongful dismissal.
When you connect with legal representation, they can help explain whether losing your job was a correct and legally fair procedure or not.
It’s important to know your rights following an incident such as this. Your employer’s reason for dismissing you can determine your course of action. We’re often asked if you can be sacked for having an accident at work. The answer is, generally, no. If you have been injured due to your employer’s negligence, and they use this as a reason for releasing you from employment then it can be grounds for unfair dismissal.
However, if you’re dismissed after an accident at work that was your own fault, then you could possibly be dismissed without your employer suffering any legal ramifications.
Additionally, you could also be let go if your own negligence caused an accident that injured another employee. This is because employees owe one another the same duty of care as is owed to them by their employer.
There can also be the matter of contributory negligence. This is where both you and your employer’s negligence contributed to the injuries you sustained. It can be a slightly more complex matter to resolve whether or not your employer would be within their rights to fire you for an accident such as this. For more clarification, get in touch with our advisors. The more information they have regarding your circumstances, the better they can help you.
It’s important to check that your dismissal was a fair and legitimate action on the part of your employer. You can confirm your employment status by using your contract. Unfortunately, not everyone has the right to contest an unfair dismissal decision. For example, you wouldn’t be able to challenge a dismissal if you are
- A self-employed person
- An agency worker or classed as a ‘worker’
- A police officer or a member of the armed forces
- A registered dock worker
- Anyone working overseas or for a foreign government
- A share fisherperson
Therefore, it’s important to:
- Refer to your contract
- Ensure appropriate procedure was followed
- Confirm that you have been an employee for that employer for longer than two years (you can usually only dispute a dismissal if you’ve worked there for 2 years or more)
- Check that you have actually been officially dismissed: How was it enacted? Were you made redundant, for example?
- Do you have proof of an official termination letter?
- Confirm that the reason for dismissal actually constitutes ‘unfair’ as far as the law defines it. This would include any ‘automatically unfair’ reasons, as recognised below.
Automatically Unfair Reasons for Dismissal
If your employer dismissed you on any of the following grounds, it could be deemed automatically unfair:
- You are pregnant or were on maternity leave
- You requested your legal rights
- Took action regarding a health and safety issue
- Are a trade union member
- Took part in lawful, official industrial action for 12 weeks or under
- Are a ‘whistleblower’ (someone who reports wrongdoing)
- Made a flexible working request
- Want to take maternity, paternity or other family leave
- Have jury service to do
- Were forced to retire
If any of the above apply to you, including those that are protected characteristics, your employer cannot use these as the only or predominant reason to dismiss you. However, there are circumstances where you could still be dismissed even when these apply as long as your employer isn’t discriminating against you.
If you’re asking ‘can I be sacked for having an accident at work?’, your employer shouldn’t do so if the accident wasn’t your fault. If your employer does sack you for a reason that could be considered unreasonable, then you could potentially make a claim against your employer for unfair dismissal. Such legal action would be separate to any personal injury claim you might make for the injuries caused by the work accident you were involved in.
You can also challenge the grounds of your dismissal if you have evidence your employer has discriminated against you. Discrimination can take various forms. It may be made in reference to:
- Your race, ethnicity or country of origin
- Being married or in a civil partnership
- Your gender
- Your sexual orientation
- Religious beliefs
- Your age
- Pregnancy or maternity leave
- Gender reassignment
Again, your employer can still dismiss you, but it can’t be the reason you’re dismissed.
Being injured in the workplace can be alarmingly easy if health and safety observance is missing or impaired. Health and safety laws are crucial for the wellbeing of everyone and the consequences of not applying them can be fatal. There are some common examples of possible injuries such as:
- Slipping on a wet, unattended surface
- Tripping down badly marked or poorly lit stairs
- Contact with heavy objects
- Malfunctioning machinery
- Lack of personal protective equipment where its necessary
- Workplace violence
Using evidence such as the accident log book at work and the RIDDOR system of reporting injuries, you could begin to build a case today. However, you’d also need to prove that your employer caused your injuries.
What are my rights after an accident at work?
If you have been injured at work due to the negligence of your employer, you have a right to make a claim for financial compensation due to your injuries. These injuries could be physical, psychological, or both.
Additionally, if your employer dismisses you due to you making a claim against them, this also could be a violation of your rights. In this circumstance, not only could you claim for personal injury compensation, but you may also be able to make a separate claim for unfair dismissal.
A personal injury solicitor would approach your claim in the following way:
- Firstly, they can arrange for you to attend a medical assessment with an independent GP or specialist.
- The resulting report can be used as evidence in your claim.
- A lawyer can also use the report and a publication called the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG) to value your injuries.
The JCG is a publication that legal professionals use to help them value injuries. We used figures from these guidelines in our compensation table below.
Injury severity JCG award bracket notes
Partial Hearing Loss or/and Tinnitus (I) Severe tinnitus/NIHL (noise-induced hearing loss) £29,710 to £45,540 Severe NIHL and tinnitus
Ankle fracture (c) Moderate £13,740 to £26,590 Fractures and ligament tears that can give rise to permanent disability.
Chest injuries (e) £5,320 to £12,590 Toxic fume inhalation with residual damage
Psychiatric damage (d) Less severe £1,540 to £5,860 This award takes into account how long the disability lasted and the extent to which everyday activities and sleep were impacted.
It’s important to note that these amounts are not guaranteed. They merely represent what would be possible if your medical evidence supports it.
General damages compensate you for the injuries you’ve suffered due to the accident that wasn’t your fault. You could also claim special damages, which compensates you for financial losses caused by your injuries.
You can use documents such as receipts, statements and bills that prove out-of-pocket costs caused by your injuries. These costs may include:
- The costs of needing care
- Loss of earnings
- Childcare costs
- Missed bonuses or pension contributions
- Travel expenses to hospital or work
- Medical equipment
If you can’t see your injuries in the compensation table above, why not get in touch? Our advisors can value your claim for free.
If you have experienced an accident at work, then get in touch with our advisors today. Not only can they offer you tailored advice, but they may also be able to connect you with an expert lawyer from our panel.
All of the lawyers we work with assist their clients on a No Win No Fee basis. But what does this mean?
In short, when you work with a No Win No Fee lawyer, they will make you aware of the success fee you need to pay should your claim succeed. This fee is taken from your compensation as a percentage that is legally capped.
If your No Win No Fee lawyer is not successful in helping you win your claim, then you are not required to pay them this percentage.
If you wish to hire legal help, then doing so in this way can help reduce the financial risk of doing so. Reach out today for more information and to get started.
- Call us on 0800 408 7825
- Contact us through our website
- Use the pop-up live chat window in the corner
Thank you for reading this guide. In conclusion, we can offer further help with the following guides about:
Injuries that take place in public
Car accidents that were not your fault
There are also external sources that could be of use to you:
We also have some other guides you may find useful:
- Public accident claims hot spots
- Broken hand at work claims.
- Lost wages due to a work injury.
- Examples of a back injury at work.
- Can you claim for a fall at work in the UK?
- Assaulted at work compensation claims
- Council slip and trip accidents
- Public transport accidents
- How to make a public liability claim
- Making a claim against the council
- Claiming for a pothole injury
- Making a claim against a shop
- Accidents in a public park
- Cycling accident claims
- Claiming for injuries suffered while shopping
- Back injury claim
- Brain injury claim
- Who pays work-related injury compensation?
- What happens if you get injured at work?
- Can I claim for falling down the stairs at work?
- How to make a broken foot at work claim
- Warehouse accident claim guide and calculator
- Claim compensation for an eye injury at work
If you would like to ask an adviser any questions such as ‘can I be sacked for having an accident at work?’, then you can contact Public Interest Lawyers for help. You can contact us about work accident claims by using the contact details included within this guide.