How your own carelessness can affect you ability to claim compensation for an injury at work
Find out how your own carelessness can cause an injury at work; why this does not stop you from being able to claim compensation; how contributory negligence can lead to a reduction in your compensation payout and why you will rarely be seen to have consented to the dangers of injury at work.
Can you still succeed in a compensation claim against your employer if carelessness on your behalf led to your injury at work?
An employer must guard against employees making mistakes, being careless and at times lacking attention.
It is not enough for an employer to say that an employee was warned of a danger and was provided with training – the employer should take all practical steps to eliminate any danger.
For example, a factory workplace has a low pipe at head height on a walkway. Employees are told of the danger and are asked to duck under the pipe every time they walk past. If an employee on one occasion is not paying attention and bangs his head – it is still likely that the employer will be responsible for a claim for compensation.
In this example the employer should have moved the pipe or, if this was too expensive to do, should at least have padded the pipe out in cushioning of bright colours – to make it more visible and reduce the risk of injury.
You can see that a lack of attention or carelessness – will not affect your ability to claim compensation from your employer, but it may affect the level of compensation you receive.
When will the amount of compensation you can claim be reduced by your own carelessness?
It may be decided that your carelessness was so bad that your injuries were made worse or would not even have happened had you not been so careless. In such circumstances – you can be seen to have “contributed” through your careless act or “negligence” to the severity of your injuries.
This careless act is known as “contributory negligence” and can cause the level of your compensation to be reduced by a percentage.
Always remember that UK law is designed to protect the employee, so even if you have contributed to your injury at work it is likely that any reduction in your compensation will only be small.
When will you have consented to the risks of an injury at work?
This is an important question – if you have consented to the risk of injury at work then your employer will not be responsible for paying your compensation. This employer defence is known as volenti non fit injuria.
Thankfully, the health and safety law protecting employees is so strong that it is very rare you will be found as a matter of law to have truly consented to the risks of an injury at work.
It really only applies to deliberate conscious risk taking acts by employees – even then it is only normally applicable to skilled employees, who knew exactly what the safety consequences of their act would be.
If an employer attempts to deny you compensation for an injury at work by stating you consented to the risks of your injury – do not be put off making a claim, as the chances of this defence being successful is extremely slim.
Injury At Work Summary And Next Steps
You now know why you can still claim compensation when your own careless act led to your injury at work; why an employer’s argument that you consented to your injury is unlikely to be successful and in what circumstances your compensation could be reduced.
See our starting your work accident claim article to know the steps you can take to start your claim.
Specialist solicitor free online help
Choose from our specialist solicitor telephone / online help options – you can discuss your claim with a work accident solicitor, ask an online questions