Employer's Liability Claims Explained

31 July 2018

If you have been injured in an accident at work or you developed a physical or psychological illness as a result of your job, you could be in a position to make an employer's liability claim for compensation.

Employers are required to have employer's liability insurance cover to protect employees. In most cases the compensation awarded is paid out by the employer's liability insurance, and not by the employer.

What is an Employer's Liability Claim?

An employer's liability claim is when an employee makes a personal injury claim against an employer for a work related accident, injury or illness.

An employer's liability claim is made on the basis that an employer has failed to provide a safe workplace, a safe system of work or safe tools and machinery to do their work; and as a result their employee has been involved in an accident or contracted a work related disease. In addition, if an employee is injured because of the fault of one of their fellow workers, it may be possible to bring a claim against their employer for the actions of their colleague.

Unfortunately accidents and work related illnesses happen all too often. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics show that in 2016/17 alone, 1.3 million people suffered from a work-related illness in Great Britain. There were also 609,000 workplace injuries and 137 fatal accidents in the workplace.


The compensation awarded in employer's liability claims is intended to compensate the employee for the pain and suffering he/she has experienced. It is also intended to recover any financial losses that have been incurred, such as lost earnings, out-of-pocket expenses and any future losses they may have.

Who Can Make an Employer's Liability Claim?

In order to make an employer's liability claim, you must be able to show that:

  1. Your employer breached their duty of care to keep your workplace safe
  2. This breach of duty caused you to suffer an injury or illness.

All employers have a legal obligation to take 'reasonable steps' to ensure the health and safety of their staff at work. So, if you are an employee, you will be owed a duty of care by your employer. Sometimes this even applies to self-employed people and contractors.

Proving that your employer breached this duty of care is a little harder, as you must be able to show that your employer did not take the necessary action to safeguard your health and safety. For example, it might be that your employer:

  • Did not provide the necessary training and/or supervision
  • Did not provide the right protective equipment
  • Allowed poor working practices to continue (examples might include: failure to prevent staff in a nursing home manually lifting patients and residents; failure to prevent workers carrying out unsafe practices such as removing guards for a piece of machinery as it was easier to operate without a guard; failure to repair a machine to stop it leaking oil onto a passageway)
  • Allowed unsafe machinery and equipment to be used
  • Failed to implement and adhere to appropriate health and safety regulations

Next, you must show that there is a direct link between the breach of duty and your personal injuries. For instance, if you fell off a ladder whilst working at height, it might be that this would never have happened, had your employer complied with the work at height regulations. Or if you injured your back lifting heavy objects, you might never have done so, had you been given the proper training and equipment.

How Do I Know if I Can Make a Claim?

Personal injury law is complex and you cannot be expected to know whether or not you are entitled to make an employer's liability claim. To find out, you need to speak to a specialist Personal Injury Solicitor who will review the details of your case before suggesting what your options are.

If a Personal Injury Solicitor believes that you have wrongfully developed an injury or illness at work, and it would be possible to prove this, then you will have the opportunity to pursue an employer's liability claim. At Co-op Legal Services most employer's liability claims can be dealt with on a No Win No Fee basis.

Will I Lose My Job?

The thought of making a claim against a current employer can make people feel uncomfortable as they worry they will lose their job. This is understandable, but it is important to know that if you wish to make an employer's liability claim, then you cannot be treated any differently in the workplace. This is a legal requirement, and it protects people making an employer's liability claim from being bullied, dismissed, demoted or unfairly treated by their employer or fellow colleagues.

Will My Employer Suffer Financially?

Another common concern is that the employer will suffer financially. Again, this is not something you should worry about, as all employers in England and Wales are legally required to have employers' liability insurance, so the insurance company will generally be responsible for paying the compensation.

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